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Kazakh Report: December 21, 2001


21 December 2001

KAZAKH MINISTER OF DEFENSE: REGIONAL SECURITY IS MAJOR PRIORITY
According to the Press Service of Kazakhstan's Ministry of Defense, Defense Minister General Mukhtar Altynbayev told a NATO Council session in Brussels on 19 December that the major priority of Kazakhstan's defense doctrine is regional security.

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT UPPER CHAMBER APPROVES KAZAKH-UZBEK AGREEMENT ON BORDER REGULATIONS
On December 20, the Senate ( the upper chamber of the Kazakh Parliament) approved the Kazakh-Uzbek agreement on border regulations signed in July, 2000, within the framework of the Kazakh-Uzbek Treaty on Eternal Friendship signed by the two countries' presidents in 1997. Under that agreement, citizens of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan may travel to each others' country without any visa or special permission. After entering the host country, the tourists are required to register, and any stay longer than one month must be approved by the local police department. The agreement also provides for the suspension of all border crossing traffic in the event of an emergency. Senator Zhandar Karibay-Uly harshly criticized the chapter saying that any stay longer than thirty days is at the discretion of the local authorities, arguing that it will encourage corruption and bribery, but he nonetheless voted in favor of the agreement.

SEMINAR FOR JOURNALISTS OF NORTH AND CENTRAL KAZAKHSTAN HELD IN ASTANA
A seminar was held in Astana on 20 December for journalists from North and Central Kazakhstan on the role of journalists in the struggle against poverty. It was reported at the seminar that wages of over 32 per cent of Kazakhstan's population could be defined as survival minimum, and that there is an 11-fold gap between the poorest 10 percent of Kazakhstan's population and the wealthiest 10 per cent.

KAZAKHOIL AND JAPANESE INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION BANK SIGN DEAL
On December 20, KazakhOil and the Japanese International Cooperation Ban signed an agreement on a $200 million loan to be used for the renovation of the Atyrau Oil Refinery in western Kazkahstan. The deal was signed within the framework of a long-termed agreement signed recently between KazakhOil and Japan's Marubeni Corporation (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 5 December 2001). Renovation works at the Atyrau Refinery will begin in March 2002 and last until December 2004. As a result of the renovation work, the output of the refinery is expected to increase by 31 per cent.

RUSSIA'S MINISTRY OF EMERGENCY SITUATIONS TO ASSIST KAZAKH COLLEAGUES IN PAVLODAR AND ARAL AREAS
The head of Kazakhstan's Agency for Emergency Situations, Zamanbek Nurqadilov, held talks with his Russian counterpart, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow this week during which agreement was reportedly reached that the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situation will help liquidate huge amounts of mercury wastes in Pavlodar Oblast, North Kazkahstan and will participate in a program to improve the ecological situation in the Aral Sea region.

BOLAT ABILOV STRIPPED OF HIS PARLIAMENTARY MANDATE
On December 19, Bolat Abilov, a deputy of the Mazhilis (the Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber) was deprived of his parliamentary mandate following a decision by the majority of his fellow deputies. Deputy Dvoretski proposed postponing discussion of the issue discussion by at least one week. But the issue was discussed and Bolat Abilov had to surrender his Deputy's mandate. Abilov, who is President of the BUTYA Company, announced his decision to quit the Otan party last month after he co-founded Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice movement earlier in November. Kazakhstan's Central Election Committee (CEC) demanded that Abilov end his activities in Parliament. According to CEC chairwoman Zaghipa Baliyeva, any person elected to the Parliament as a member of any party should give up his or her Parliamentary activities if he or she quits that party or political movement.

Abilov told journalists on 19 December that the decision to strip him of his Parliamentary mandate was politically motivated, and that he will continue his political activities as a member of the Political Council of Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice.

MINISTRY OF LABOR AND SOCIAL PROTECTION OFFICIAL CAUGHT RED HANDED TAKING A BRIBE
On December 19 a spokesman for the Astana City Interior Affairs Department told journalists that a top official of Kazakh Ministry of Labor and Social Protection had been caught red handed when accepting a $100 bribe from a local businessman. Omarkhanov was reportedly detained immediately. Investigations are under way. The bribe was given in order to obtain a license to hire laborers abroad.

DEPUTY SERIK ABDRAKHMANOV SENDS LETTER TO PROSECUTOR GENERAL.
Mazhilis deputy Serik Abdrakhmanov told RFE/RL that he has sent a special letter to Prosecutor-General Rashid Tusupbekov, urging him to pay more attention to the case of mothers in Baidibek Region of South Kazakhstan Oblast who are still in Astana trying to meet with senior officials to demand payment of their overdue social allowances dating back to1997.

ALMATY NGOS HOLD CONFERENCE IN ALMATY
A special international conference on social problems opened in Almaty on December 19. A special resolution on joint measures for improvement of social conditions in the country was adopted.

REPRESENTATIVES OF UN HIGH COMMISSIONER ON REFUGEES HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE
Representatives of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees in Kazakhstan, Abdul Karim Gul and Fikret Akcura, held a press conference at National Press Club in Almaty on 19 December at which they told journalists that the number of refugees entering Kazkahstan and other Central Asian states since the beginning of U.S.-led anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan was much lower than had been expected. It was also reported that the 50th anniversary of the International Convention on Refugees was going to be marked this month. Kazakhstan joined the Convention in January 1999.

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