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Kazakh Report: January 15, 2000


15 January 2000

KAZAKHSTAN PETROLEUM ASSOCIATION PRESENTED ITS NEW LEADERSHIP.
The non-profit organization called Kazakhstan Petroleum Association, which unites all the foreign oil companies working in Kazakhstan, presented its new rotating leadership on January 14. A representative of BG International gives his duties to Edward Verona of Texaco International Petroleum. At the pres conference held on 14 January in Almaty, Mr. Verona said that international companies working on Kazakhstan's oil fields have opened 50,000 work places for Kazakh citizens in general. He also said that 30 million tons of crude oil was planned to be produced in Kazakhstan in 2000, of which 8 million tons would be sold to the Kazakh oil refining facilities for lower prices.

LEADERS OF KAZAKH SLAV ORGANIZATION MADE STATEMENT.
According to a report sent by correspondents of RFE/RL, leaders of LAD - an organization uniting ethnic Slavs of Kazakhstan, made a statement on January 11 in Oskemen, Eastern Kazakhstan, calling Russian Federation's officials to be involved in investigations of the case opened against 12 Russian citizens led by Victor Pugachev (Kazimirchik), who intended to overthrow the local administration in Eastern Kazakhstan and Pavlodar Oblasts in order to establish a so-called "Autonomous Land of Russian Altay". In his statement, the Leader of LAD's branch in Oskemen, Mr. Shushannikov, who is also known as an active member of the Russian State Duma's Compatriots Council, called the investigations conducted by the Kazakh officials as "hysteria". The 12 Russian citizens and 10 ethnic Russians of Kazakhstan were arrested on November 18 last year in Oskemen. They are accused of being involved into anti-government activities and the preparation of terrorist acts in Kazakhstan. Mr. Shushannikov accused the Russian Embassy in Kazakhstan of "ignoring the fate of the compatriots". Meanwhile Russia's Council in Kazakhstan, Vladimir Nestoyanov made an official statement on January 13, saying that Mr. Shushannikov's accusations were "groundless". He said that all the investigations around Pugachev's team were in accordance with international standards and Kazakh law. According to the Council, Nestoyanov himself had an opportunity to meet with the accused Russian citizens in jail. He also mentioned that there was no need to bring lawyers from Russia in order to protect Pugachev and his people at the trial hearings.

MASHKEVICH'S PRESS SECRETARY ON KAZAKHGATE SCANDAL.
Rinat Asqarov, Press Secretary of Alexander Mashkevich - an influential Kazakhstani businessman, told journalists on January 13 that all the data about Belgian Tractebel Company's having bribed Kazakhstan top officials through Alexander Mashkevich and two other influential businessmen working in Kazakhstan were "very far from truth." According to Rinat Asqarov, the Belgian "Le Soir" newspaper, which published the data, will be sued by Mr. Mashkevich and his colleagues for "giving wrong information, hurting the honor and dignity of innocent people". Le Soir published some material earlier in December, according to which the Belgian Tractebel Company had allegedly given $55 million to Alexander Mashkevich and his colleagues in order to gain the right to control all the energy and heating supply systems in Almaty. The sum was allegedly supposed to be passed further to top officials of Kazakhstan. Alexander Mashkevich - formerly a Soviet citizen and currently an Israeli national, is controlling the main part of the non-ferrous metal producing facilities of Kazakhstan. He accompanied President Nursultan Nazarbayev on his recent trip to Washington D.C. and New York. Mr. Mashkevich is also known as the Chairman of Kazakhstan's Jews Association.

KAZAKH MIG TRIAL WILL RESUME ON JANUARY 18.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from the former Kazakh capital, that the trial of 40 Kazakh MiG-21 military planes sales to North Korea will resume on January 18. The trial had to stop on Tuesday, after one of the accused persons - General Bakhytzhan Ertayev, Chief of the Kazakh Army's General Staff, had minor heart problems that occurred during the trial process. General Ertayev is in Almaty Central Military Clinic now. His health state is reportedly stable, although he has high blood pressure. Meanwhile a member of the Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber - Mazhilis - Serik Abdrakhmanov made a statement on January 12, saying that Bakhytzhan Ertayev was only implementing the action conducted by the Kazakh Government.

KAZAKH-UZBEK BORDER STAND-OFF BECOMING MORE COMPLICATED.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that last week a Kazakh citizen was shot by Uzbek border guards without any warning when trying to cross the Kazakh-Uzbek border. The wounded Bauyrzhan Ishakov is in the hospital currently. Some local citizens in South Kazakhstan also say that another ethnic Kazakh of Bostandyq District, currently belonging to Uzbekistan, was shot to death by Uzbek border guards when crossing the Uzbek-Kazakh border last month. Kazakhstan's Bostandyq District, together with several other Kazakh districts, was allowed to lease to Turkistani Military Okrug of the former Soviet Union in 1954. The center of the Turkistani Military Okrug was in Tashkent then. The main part of the leased territories were returned to Kazakhstan later on, with the exception of Bostandyq. Ethnic Kazakhs, who are the dominant ethnic group of the region, visit their relatives in South Kazakhstan on a regular basis. This is becoming more complicated now, since Uzbek authorities restricted border crossing regulations. Kazakh Foreign Minister sent a note to the Uzbek official demanding an investigation of the shooting that happened last week on the Kazakh-Uzbek border.

RAILWAY TICKETS BECAME MORE EXPENSIVE.
Starting January 12, the Kazakh Railroads Agency increased railway transportation fees to 10 per cent. Officials of the Agency explained that measure as a necessary step to increase the railroad workers� salaries.

KAZAKH VICE MINISTER OF TRADE, ENERGY AND INDUSTRY RECEIVES ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES.
Nurlan Kapparov - Kazakh Vice Minister of Trade, Energy and Industry - received additional responsibilities as Chief of the National Energy Company - KEGOK. KEGOK controls energy producing and distribution all over the country. It is not clear what sort of position the former Finance Minister Oraz Zhandosov received. Zhandasov had been leading the KEGOK until yesterday.

21 VEK NEWSPAPER RESUMED OPERATIONS THIS WEEK.
21 Vek (21 Century) newspaper resumed its functions this week. On January 12, its first copy of this year was available in Almaty. Editors of 21 Century newspaper had to suspend their activities due to the refusal by all Kazakhstani publishing houses to print the newspaper in December. It is not clear though where the newly issued copy of 21 Vek newspaper was printed.

MEAT SELLERS OF ALMATY CENTRAL MARKET PROTEST.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that on January 11, all the meat sellers of Almaty Central Market held a mass gathering protesting the decision of the Market's administration to increase the fees (formerly 1,000 Tenges per month, now 1,300 Tenges per month - $1 equals 140 Tenges currently) and to receive annual fees instead of monthly ones. The meat sellers say that they had never been explained about the reasons of such a decision, adding that not all of them are going to sell meat in the Central Market during the year, which means that "the idea about the annual fee to be paid in the beginning of each year is absurd". A similar action of protest was held by traders of a market place in Qostanay, North Kazakhstan on January 11. Clashes between the traders and police are reported as taken place their. No details are available.

11 FOOD-POISONED WORKERS OF AITAS PLANT BROUGHT TO HOSPITAL.
On January 11, 11 workers of Aitas Iron Ore Developing Facility in Qaraghandy Oblast, Central Kazakhstan, were brought to the hospital in Balkhash City. All of them were diagnosed as having food-poisoning. Correspondents of RE/RL quote Interfax-Kazakhstan News Agency as reporting that local police and sanitary control services started investigations.

KAZAKH KURDS SAY OCALAN SHOULD NOT BE EXECUTED.
Ethnic Kurds of Kazakhstan held a gathering in Almaty January 11, where they said that the leader of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) Abdullah Ocalan should not be executed by the Turkish government. Leader of Kazakh Kurds, Academician Nadir Nadirov said that Turkish authorities should realize that millions of new Ocalans were ready to replace Abdullah Ocalan in case his death verdict would be carried out. According to Mr. Nadirov, all the 40 million Kurds of the world have given up any sort of violent demonstrations of protest. He said that starting this year the Kurds would start holding peaceful demonstrations of protest only.

CHAIRMAN OF THE KAZAKH NATIONAL BANK HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Grigoriy Marchenko - Chairman of the Kazakh National Bank � told journalists on January 11 that the rate of inflation in Kazakhstan last year might be defined as 18 per cent. He also said that the volumes of investments to the National bank increased last year compared with the situation in 1998. He did not give any figures though. According to Mr. Marchenko, the number of currency exchange points in Kazakhstan will be decreased in the nearest future. The Chairman of the Kazakh National bank added that starting January 1, any person buying hard currency exceeding $200 would be registered at the exchange office and and would need to show his or her ID.

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