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Kazakh Report: January 4, 2000


4 January 2000

PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV REPORTEDLY CAUGHT COLD.
Correspondents of RFE/RL in Astana quote Kazakh Presidential Press Service as reporting that Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev fell sick after having participated in the celebrations of the beginning of the new millennium. President Nazarbayev reportedly caught cold and left the capital for Almaty on January 3. He is receiving medical treatment at Presidential Medical Service branch in the former capital.

UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO KAZAKHSTAN AWARDED BY KAZAKH PRESIDENT.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that President Nursultan Nazarbayev issued a Decree on January 3, according to which Victor Bohatyr - Ukrainian Ambassador to Kazakhstan - was awarded the Dostyq Order of the Second Level. Ambassador Bohatyr was awarded for "his contribution in the development of Kazakh-Ukrainian mutual economic, cultural and political ties."

KAZAKH PREMIER CHAIRED CABINET'S SESSION.
Kazakh Premier Qasymzhomart Toqayev held a Cabinet session on January 4. The main issue discussed at the session was the preparation of a special three-year anti-unemployment program due to Presidential advice. Also the need to prepare a new tax code was reportedly discussed at the session.

HUNDREDS OF KAZAKHSTANIS INJURED DURING THE NEW MILLENNIUM CELEBRATIONS.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that about 200 citizens of Almaty and about 100 of Astana were injured during the celebrations of the new millennium in the last four days. The injured people, mainly young kids, have burnt their hands, sometimes faces, while trying to shoot Chinese fireworks. Some of them were injured while enjoying the Ice -Town built for children in the new capital of Astana.

2,000 NEWBORN CHILDREN OF KAZAKHSTAN TO RECEIVE FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM DEMOGRAPHY FUND.
Kazakh Demography Fund led by the former Minister of Transport and Communications, Erkin Qaliyev, announced its program of financial support for the first 2,000 children born in Kazakhstan this year. All the hospitals of the country were asked by the Fund to give reports on births during the first days of the year 2000. Each of the first 2,000 children born in Kazakhstan during this period will receive 100,000 Tenges from the Fund. ($1 equals 139 Tenges currently). The program was officially announced as an action to support the birth rate. The population of Kazakhstan drastically decreased in the last couple of years due to the imigration process caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic hardships faced by the former Soviet Republics. According to the preliminary results of the last census held in Kazakhstan, the number of Kazakhstanis is about 14.9 million nowadays. It used to be about 17 million people just several years ago.

KAZAKHSTAN HAS NO PROBLEM WITH Y2K.
Correspondents of RFE/RL quote Vice President of the Kazakh Extraordinary Situations Agency - Valeriy Petrov, as saying that Kazakhstan has managed to shift to the new millennium without any problems with Y2K. All the transports, communication and financial operations were not affected by the Y2K problem, said Valeriy Petrov on January 3 when speaking to journalists in Almaty.

NEW LABOR LAW STARTS FUNCTIONING IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Kazakh Minister of Labor and Social Protection, Nikolay Radostovets told journalists on January 3 that starting January 1, the new law on labor began functioning in the country. According to the new law, all labor conditions will be defined by each separate contract signed between employer and employee. The system of Labor Books that remained from the Soviet-era has been eliminated.

SNOWY BLIZZARDS REPORTED IN NORTH AND EAST OF KAZAKHSTAN.
Heavy snow and blizzards are reported in the North and East parts of Kazakhstan these days. According to correspondents of RFE/RL, the night between January 4 and January 5 is expected to be very cold in the northern regions. The temperature may fall to 40-45 Degrees below Zero (Celsius). In the Pavlodar Region three persons froze to death last Sunday reportedly. 11 more persons were given medical treatment due to injures caused by the frost. Four of them are still in hospital in very serious condition. All the inhabitants of Qostanay, Pavlodar, North Kazakhstan and East Kazakhstan Oblasts were asked not to leave their towns and villages these days due to blizzard and cold weather.

ULBA METALLURGICAL PLANT IN OSKEMEN TO GET FINANCIAL SUPPORT THIS YEAR.
Correspondents of RFE/RL quote officials of the Kazakh Atomic Industry Joint Stock Company as saying that this year one of Kazakhstan's main uranium developing industrial facilities - the Ulba Metallurgic Plant (UMP) in Oskemen, Eastern Kazakhstan, will receive $33 million for improvement of the quality of its output. UMP's main activities are connected with enriching the natural uranium and making dry nuclear fuel for industrial needs.

REGIONAL ADMINISTRATIONS WILL TAKE CARE OF THE MEDICAL SERVICE.
Due to a decision of the Kazakh Cabinet, starting January 1, all medical services will be financially supported by regional administrations. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, leaders of independent Kazakhstan made several attempts to reform the health protection system. The experiments with Mandatory Health Insurance at the Kazakh State Medical Insurance Fund and the creation of the State Center of Medical Services gave no positive results. Now, the health protection issue is becoming the responsibility of the local authorities.

KAZAKHSTAN'S STATE RUN MASS MEDIA ON PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV'S TRIP TO D.C.
According to information provided by correspondents of RFE/RL, Kazakhstan's propaganda machine is using the Kazakh Presidential working trip to Washington D.C. last week for advertising President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his policies. Almost everyday Kazakh officials, namely Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrisov, Defense Minister Sat Toqpaqpayev, President's Press Secretary Asylbek Beysenbayev and others give interviews and hold press conferences for local journalists saying that the "United States fully supports democratic reforms and economic programs conducted by the current Kazakh leadership", adding that the conclusion was made after meetings with top officials of the United States, UN and IMF held by the Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev during his trip to the United States last week. Kazakhstan's state run mass media controlled by the State Information Agency "Khabar" led by President Nazarbayev's daughter Darigha, quote Kazakh officials as saying that such issues as the Presidential and Parliamentary elections held in Kazakhstan this year and harshly criticized by OSCE and the U.S. state Department, and the illegal sell of 40 Soviet-era military jets to North Korea "have never been discussed during President Nursultan Nazarbayev's meetings with American officials". Meanwhile RFE/RL's special correspondent, as well as other journalists, including Khabar Agency's reporters were present at the ceremony of the opening of the 6th session of the Kazakh American Economic Commission held on December 20 at the Eisenhower Executive Building. U.S. Vice-President Al Gore said in his opening speech that he had expressed his concerns about the situation of human rights, as well as of Parliamentary and Presidential elections in Kazakhstan at the dinner shared with the Kazakh President before the session. He also said that among the problems in U.S.- Kazakh ties, the scandal around Kazakhstan's former Soviet military jets sold to North Korea was also discussed. Al Gore expressed his hope that these problems would never take place again, adding that "fortunately, President Nazarbayev expressed his commitment to improve the election law through amendments and to do his best in order to clear out and punish the persons involved in the arms trade with North Korea."

ELDERLY CITIZENS OF THE FORMER CAPITAL HELD MASS GATHERING.
Pensioners of Almaty held a mass gathering in front of the city Mayor's office on December 30. The elderly citizens of Almaty traditionally gather in this spot on the 30th of every month. Today they demanded that pensions be increased. They also expressed their protest to the decision of the Kazakh-Belgian Joint Venture "Almaty Power Consolidated" to increase housing utility fees starting January 1, 2000. Almaty pensioners say that the decision to give the former capital's drinking water supply system to a French Company's control is a "crime".

HOUSING UTILITY FEES TO INCREASE IN ALMATY NEXT WEEK.
Almaty City's Anti-Monopoly Committee announced this week that fees for electricity supplies in the former capital would be 20 per cent higher starting January 1, 2000. Meanwhile the increase of hot water and heating fees will be between 6 and 23 per cent, depending to the districts of Almaty.

ALMATY CITIZENS SENT HUMANITARIAN AID TO TURKEY'S EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that on December 29 citizens of Almaty sent humanitarian aid to Turkey's regions hit by earthquake earlier this year. The amount of the aid was 1,600 thousand Tenges worth medicine and 580 thousand Tenges cash. ($1 equals 138 Tenges currently).

HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS ON MR. KAZHEGELDIN'S BODYGUARDS.
Bodyguards of Akezhan Kazhegeldin - former Kazakh Premier, currently Kazakh Opposition leader - Pioytr Afanasenko and Satzhan Ibrayev are still kept in the prison of the Kazakh National Security Committee. They were arrested earlier this month and accused of illegal weapons possession. Yevgeniy Zhovtis - Chief of the Kazakh Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law told journalists that lawyers of the two detained officers do not have regular access to their clients. Also the detainees' colleagues, activists of the Republican People's Party, led by Akezhan Kazhegeldin from exile, have no possibility to meet with their colleagues behind bars. International League on Human Rights sent a letter to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev urging him to pay attention to the situation faced by Afanasenko and Ibrayev. The two detained activists of the Republican People's Party have not received official accusation papers yet.

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