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Kazakh Report: June 30, 2000


30 June 2000

ELDERLY CITIZENS OF ALMATY HELD MASS GATHERING IN REPUBLIC SQUARE.
Almaty pensioners congregated on Republic Square on 30 June, as they traditionally do on the last day of every month. The pensioners adopted a special resolution addressed to the city's mayor, Victor Khrapunov, demanding that their pensions be raised. Representatives of the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan and other political parties also participated, as well as the pensioners and activists of the POKOLENIYE (Generation) movement. Attan-Qazaqstan Movement leader Amantai-Haji Asylbek accused the RPPK chairman Akezhan Kazhegeldin of having left the Kazakh economy in a critical situation when he was fired three years ago.

'NATIONAL DIALOGUE' TO TAKE PLACE WITHOUT PRESIDENT.
Ermukhambet Ertisbaev, head of the Political and Social Department of the Presidential Office, told RFE/RL correspondents on 30 June that President Nursultan Nazarbaev will not take part in the National Dialogue to be held this year. Ertisbayev said he will represent the Kazakh President at that dialogue, in which all political movements and parties of the country will participate. The idea of a National Dialogue was proposed by the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan last year. President Nazarbaev promised U.S officials to organize such a dialogue. It is now clear that pro-government and pro-Nazarbayev parties including Otan, the Civic Party, AUL and other political organizations will participate in the National Dialogue. RFE/RL corresponsdents say that it is not likely that the main opposition parties and movements agree to take part in such a dialogue if President Nazarbaev is absent. Zharmakhan Tuyaqbaev, who is speaker of the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament) told RFE/RL that the term "dialogue" is not appropriate, adding that National Dialogues might be held only in states with unstable economic and political situations. According to Mr. Tuyaqbaev, the situation in Kazakhstan is stable.

KAZAKH STATE SERVICES AGENCY OPENED ITS WEB SITE IN INTERNET.
RFE/RL correspondents quote the Press Service of the Kazakh State Services Agency as reporting that the Agency has recently opened its Internet web site. The home page provides Internet users with the latest news about job vacancies at regional administrations in Kazakhstan, as well as with general information about Kazakhstan administrative boards' activities.

DRAFT LAW ON LAND OWNERSHIP WILL BE DISCUSSED AT THE PARLIAMENT.
Bakhyt Ospanov, who is Chairman of the Kazakh State Agency for Land Resources, told Parliament deputies on 29 June that the draft law on land ownership in Kazakhstan is ready for debate in parliament. According to Ospanov, the draft law should be adopted in the first reading. Meanwhile a member of the Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber, Ghaniy Qaliev, and the chairman of the "Land and Destiny" Committee of Kazakhstan's Writers Union, Sapabek Asip, told RFE/RL correspondents that it is too early to start discussing the law, adding that there are many details still to be clarified in the draft.

CASE OF AKEZHAN KAZHEGELDIN'S FORMER BODYGUARDS TO BE REVIEWED ON JULY 5.
Amirzhan Qosanov, who is Vice Chairman of the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan's Executive Committee, told RFE/RL correspondents on 29 June that the criminal case against officers Piotr Afanasenko and Satzhan Ibrayev, who formerly served as bodyguards to the party's exiled chairman, former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, was supposed to be reviewed by Almaty City Court on June 28. But it was officially announced that the case was postponed till July 5 because the presiding judge is ill. The two officers were found guilty of illegal arms possession on 25 April and sentenced to 3 1/2 years' imprisonment. The leaders of the Republican People's Party say that the verdict was politically motivated.

KAZAKHSTAN'S PEOPLE BANK OPENED BRANCH IN LONDON.
People's Bank of Kazakhstan (KPB) chairman Karim Massimov announced on 29 June that his bank opened a branch in London this week. The KPB opened its first foreign branch in Beijing earlier this year.

KAZAKHSTAN PREPARES TO CELEBRATE PRESIDENT'S 60TH BIRTHDAY.
RFE/RL correspondents report that special preparations for celebrating President Nursultan Nazarbaev's 60th birthday are underway in all oblasts and both capitals of Kazakhstan. Special events, such as concerts, exhibitions, movies about Nazarbaev and other measures will take place all over Kazakhstan to mark that occasion on Monday July 4. Unnamed sources informed RFE/RL that the governor of Aqmola Oblast, Sergey Kulagin, has ordered local furniture makers to make a special throne reminiscent of a Khan's throne as a special gift to Nazarbaev. The same sources say that a special ceremony of lifting Nazarbaev on white koshma (carpet) is expected to be held in front of Ablay-Khan's sculpture in Kokshetau. (Lifting the khan on a white koshma was the central point of nomads' medieval traditional ceremony of the Khan's coronation). Those reports have not been independently confirmed.

KAZAKHSTAN MARKS PRESS DAY.
On 28 June journalists in Kazakhstan celebrate their professional holiday. Leading members of the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan Ghaziz Aldamzharov and Amirzhan Qosanov invited all Almaty journalists to mark the Day at the Medeu Sports Complex in Almaty. They also held a press conference at which they addressed the nation.

Thirty-four journalists were nominated for special state prizes by Kazakhstan's Culture Ministry. Zharmakhan Tuyaqbaev, who is Chairman of the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament) convened a press conference in Astana at which he congratulated all journalists present.

Questioned about the Draft Law on the First President of Kazakhstan adopted by the Kazakh Parliament earlier this week, Tuyaqbaev said that the Law was adopted in conformity with all the legislative norms of the country, adding that Kazakhstan is not going to follow Russia's example whereby the former Russian president's status was defined by a simple decree issued by his successor Vladimir Putin.

ALASH PARTY ACTIVISTS SWITCHED TO "DRY" HUNGER STRIKE.
RFE/RL correspondents reported from Almaty on 28 June that the Alash Party members who embarked on a hungerstrike in late May have now decided not to take any liquids (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 16 and 23 June 2000). The hungerstrike is to demand that the draft law on land ownership to be dropped from the Kazakh parliament's agenda. Seitay Abenov, one of the hunger strikers' leaders, told RFE/RL on 28 June that starting that day, the strikers are refusing water as well, adding that the decision to start the "dry" hunger strike had been made after Kazakh Parliament announced its intention to start discussions of the draft law next week.

ILLEGAL PRIVATE OIL REFINERY FOUND IN AQTOBE.
An illegal underground oil refining device was found by police in Qandagash Village of Aqtobe Oblast, North West Kazakhstan this week. The owner of the illegal refinery managed to extract one ton of pure gasoline per night. The quality of the home made gasoline was reportedly very high. This was the first reported case of illegal gasoline production in Kazakhstan. Investigations are underway.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT STARTED HIS OFFICIAL VISIT TO FRANCE.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev's Press Service reported on 28 June that Nazarbaev began an official visit to France the previous evening. President Nazarbaev arrived in Paris from Belgium where he had spent two days meeting with leading Belgian officials and European Commission Chairman Romano Prodi. Topics discussed during those meetings reportedly included the political and economic situation in Kazakhstan and the further development of ties between Kazakhstan and the EC.

JOINT SESSION OF BOTH CHAMBERS OF PARLIAMENT ADOPTS DRAFT LAW ON FIRST PRESIDENT IN THE SECOND READING.
On June 27 the parliament Senate and Mazhilis (Upper and Lower Chambers) adopted the Draft Law on the First President of Kazakhstan in the second and final reading. President Nazarbaev must now sign the draft into law. According to the law, President Nazarbaev will enjoy wide powers even after his possible retirement.

The law gives President Nazarbaev full and limitless access to the future presidents of Kazakhstan, to the Parliament's work, and to that of the Cabinet even after he relinquishes the presidency. He will also have the right to address the nation and to announce a state of emergency or war. A lifetime state pension and free medical service for himself and his family are also guaranteed by the law. The joint session of the both Chambers did not approve the article of the law granting to Nazarbaev the right to be a Senator for life.

Parliament deputies also discussed a draft law on establishing an Award called "First President of Republic of Kazakhstan - Nursultan Nazarbaev." President Nazarbaev said publicly on 23 June that he was not going to veto the draft law in the event that it was approved by the Parliament.

KAZAKH PREMIER WROTE TO CHAIRMAN OF CHINA'S STATE COUNCIL.
Kazakh Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev has written to Zhu Jui Xin, the chairman of China's State Council, expressing his satisfaction with the work of the joint Kazakh-Chinese Consulting Commission session held in Beijing on May 23-30, Toqaev's Press Service reported on 27 June. That session discussed the joint usage of rivers crossing Kazakh-Chinese border. Toqaev mentioned in the letter that he is very satisfied with Chinese side's decision "to take Kazakhstani interests into account" when outlining all the projects on construction of any objects on and/or along the rivers crossing the borders of the two countries.

DRINKING WATER SHORTAGE REPORTED IN ASTANA.
The new Kazakh capital faces a drinking water shortage following an accident on 20 June that has halted the functioning of the city's main drinking water purification station, RFE/RL correspondents in Astana reported on 27 June. The water supply system in Astana (formerly Aqmola - Tselinograd - Akmolinsk) is very outdated and has not been repaired since 1969-1970.

KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER TO ATTEND ISLAMIC CONFERENCE SESSION.
Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Erlan Idrisov will take part in the work of Islamic conference in Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysia on June 29-30. Idrisov will reportedly also hold separate talks with his Indonesian, Malaysian and Saudi counterparts. The main issue to be discussed by the Foreign Ministers of Islamic Conference's member states will be preparations for Islamic Conference's summit scheduled for this autumn in Qatar. Idrisov will pay an official visit to Singapore on July 1-2.

NEW LEADER OF KAZAKH MUSLIMS IS A PROFESSIONAL DIPLOMAT.
At their Third Quryltay (Congress) on 24 June, Kazakhstan's Muslims elected as their new mufti Absattar Derbisaliev. An orientalist and Arabist by profession, DerbisAliyev previously served as a diplomat in the Middle East. DerbisAliyev succeeds Ratbek-Haji Nysanbay-Uly, who had been the leader of Kazakhstan's Muslims since before the collapse of the USSR in 1991.

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