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Kazakh Report: December 13, 2001


13 December 2001

CHAIRMAN OF KAZAKH PARLIAMENT'S LOWER CHAMBER HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE
Zharmakhan Tuyaqbayev, chairman of the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) held a press conference in Astana on December 13 at which he admitted that many laws adopted by Parliament are, as he said "raw." Unfortunately, Tuyaqbayev said, many laws have to be amended just one or two months after their passage. Tuyaqbayev also admitted that in some cases it is extremely difficult to differentiate between lobbying and corruption. Answering a question about Mazhilis deputy Bolat Abilov, who has encountered problems following his decision to quit the pro-presidential OTAN Party (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 12 December 2001), Tuyaqbaev said that any member of parliament who decides to leave the ranks of the political party from which he or she was elected should lay down his or her deputy's mandate as well.

PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV MEETS A GROUP OF KAZAKH REPATRIANTS
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev held a meeting at his residence in Astana on 13 December with a group of Kazakh repatriants. He said at the meeting that it is the duty of every Kazakh to help and support ethnic Kazakhs returning to their historic motherland. Nazarbayev quoted data provided by Kazakhstan's Agency on Demography and Migration, showing that about 500,000 ethnic Kazakhs have immigrated to Kazakhstan from foreign countries for permanent residence since 1991. He added that among the repatriates there are 80 post-graduates of various universities, 600 artists and over 2,500 businessmen.

WORKERS OF MUNARAL MINE IN CENTRAL KAZAKHSTAN TO START HUNGER STRIKE
Workers at the Munaral mine in Central Kazakhstan are going to start hunger strike on December 14 in a bid to pressure the leadership of the ABS-Balkhash Company pay them their overdue salaries dating back to 1996. A spokeswoman for the workers told RFE/RL that the hunger strikers will need a lawyer and a journalist in order to inform Kazakh society about their problems and demands. She also said that a special conciliatory commission should have been established to resolve the crisis, but it was never created.

KAZAKH CURRENCY CONTINUES TO LOSE VALUE
According to Kazakhstan's Central Stock Exchange, the Kazakh Tenge lost 4 Tiyins in value on 13 December. Over the past one month, the exchange rate has risen by 2 Tenges to 149.82 Tenges to the US$1. At some exchange points in Almaty, the U.S. dollar was trading at 151 Tenges on 13 December. Some experts attribute the fall in the Tenge to President Nazarbayev's decision to sack several young economists from top positions last month.

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