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Kazakh Report: August 4, 2000


4 August 2000

EMPLOYEES OF LEBANESE CCC COMPANY ON STRIKE.
Some 400 Kazakhs working at the Qarashyghanaq Gas Producing Complex in western Kazakhstan have been on strike for three days to protest their living and work conditions, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 4 August. The workers are permanent employees of the Lebanese CCC company. They say they work about 12 hours daily, with no working clothes provided by the company, for a current monthly salary of less than $100. They are demanding their salaries be increased to $300 per month. CCC representatives say that the work and living conditions correspond to the standards defined in every individual contract signed by the workers and the company.

Meanwhile ITAR-TASS reported that seven workers of the Tengizchevroil Kazakh-U.S. joint venture also working in western Kazakhstan died of heart attacks in the last couple of months.

DOZENS OF KAZAKHS AND KYRGYZ DEFECTED IN NORWAY?
Local news agencies in Kazakhstan report that about 40 citizens of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan visiting Scandinavia as tourists decided this week to remain permanently in Norway. Some of them have already been settled in a refugee camp. The information has not been confirmed by the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry.

KAZAKH CENTRAL BANK CHAIRMAN HOLDS MONTHLY PRESS CONFERENCE.
On August 4 Kazakh Central Bank chairman Grigorii Marchenko held his monthly press conference in Almaty. Marchenko said inflation in July was just 0.4 per cent, which made the annual inflation rate 9 per cent. He also said that the program to eliminate old bank notes has been successfully completed. In all, about 50 billion Tenges worth of old and torn bills were destroyed ($1 equals 143 Tenges).

KAZAKH PROSECUTOR GENERAL'S PRESS CONFERENCE.
Speaking at a press conference in Astana on 3 August, Yurii Khitrin reviewed his office's work for the first seven months of this year. Khitrin admitted that the detention of former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin at Rome's international airport last month was sanctioned by his office and by Kazakhstan's National Security Committee (KNB, the former KGB). Previously Kazakh government officials had consistently denied that the Kazakh authorities played any role in Kazhegeldin's detention. According to Khitrin, Kazakhstan has not received any official explanation from the Italian authorities for Kazhegeldin's release on July 14. Khitrin also told journalists that new accusations of bribe-taking, illegal arms possession, legalization of illegal property and funds and abuse of power have been brought against the former premier. He said Kazakh officials are negotiating with several European countries, including United Kingdom, and the U.S. on the possible extradition of Kazhegeldin to Kazakhstan to stand trial.

Amirzhan Qosanov, the Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan told a press conference in Almaty on July 26 that in detaining Kazhegeldin, Italian officials were acting on a document coded as 01336 sent by Kazakh Officials to Interpol. On 4 August, Qosanov rejected Khitrin's claim during his press conference the previous day that Kazhegeldin was released by the Italian authorities after his detention in Rome on 15 July because of his influential son-in-law's connections in the Italian government.

Khitrin also denied all the facts cited in western press publications on the presumed oil money laundering scandal in which President Nazarbaev and former Premiers Akezhan Kazhegeldin and Nurlan Balghymbaev are implicated. He characterized those press reports as "attempts to spoil Kazakhstan's image abroad".

KAZAKH PRESIDENT CALLS FOR TRANSPARENCY IN BANKING SPHERE.
Visiting the city of Pavlodar in northern Kazakhstan late on 2 August, President Nursultan Nazarbaev said that all local banks and other financial institutions, as well as international companies working in the area should make their activities more transparent in order to make all the operations available for the ordinary citizens. Nazarbaev also criticized several international companies, including Chevron, Eurasia-Bank and the foreign administration of QazaqMys, Kazakhstan's largest copper-producer, for failing to pay all their taxes.

SALESMEN AT ALMATY CENTRAL MARKET ON STRIKE.
Thousands of salesmen at the Central Market, also known as Green Bazaar, in Almaty blocked one of the city's central streets for several hours on 1 August to demand the annulment of a decision by the Market's administration to increase the market place fees as of 1 August. City Police Chief General Qalmukhambet Qasymov personally tried to persuade the strikers to return to their working places but they refused. Police reportedly confiscated and destroyed the video-camera of journalists from KTK TV channel who tried to film clashes between the strikers and policemen.

On August 3, the market's butchers continued their strike, but the market administration still refuses to lower the fees they must now pay to the previous level. They insist that butchers have to show all their daily earnings, including tips, to the cashier's office.

LEADER OF ZHANGYRU MOVEMENT RELEASED FROM JAIL.
Kazakhstan's Zhangyru (Revival) movement leader Dauren Satybaldy was released from jail on August 3. Satybaldy spent three days in custody after Almaty Regional Court found him guilty of supporting "illegal demands of inhabitants of a hostel #3 belonging to Almaty Management Academy." About 30 inhabitants of the hostel demanded the Academy's decision to sell the hostel building be reversed as they have no other place to live. The Academy administration argues that it is the responsibility of the Almaty City Mayor's Office to find alternative housing for the hostel's inhabitants. Satybaldy told journalists that he declared a hungerstrike during his three day prison term.

The leaders of the Zher-Ana, Alash, Azat, Attan and Zhangyru movements had held a press conference on July 27 to denounce the planned sale of the hostel to a Japanese company.

131 SPORTSMEN WILL REPRESENT KAZAKHSTAN AT SYDNEY OLYMPIC GAMES.
On August 2, members of Kazakhstan Olympic Committee and the chairman of the Kazakhstan's People's Bank, Karim Massimov, met with Kazakh sportsmen who will represent Kazakhstan at the Sydney Olympic Games next month. It was reported that gold medal winners will receive $100,000 Silver medal winners - $50,000 and Bronze medal winners - $30,000 from the Kazakh government.

TALGHAT IBRAEV'S ASSASSINATION STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.
The investigation continues of the 15 April murder in Almaty of leading Kazakh arms sales expert Talghat Ibraev (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 18 April 2000). Several persons, including Ibraev's driver and military intelligence officer Anatoliy Adamov, have been arrested as suspects, the most recent being the head of the KazakhSpetsExport State Joint Stock Company, Ersi Qoshqarov, who was detained by Almaty City Police on 25 July. Adamov's lawyer Asqar Alenov told journalists on 2 August that the investigators have committed numerous procedural violations while interrogating the murder suspects.

WORKERS MOVEMENT OF KAZAKHSTAN TO ESTABLISH AN ALTERNATIVE COMMUNIST PARTY.
Leaders and activists of Kazakhstan's Workers Movement announced on 2 August that they intend to establish a new Communist Party of Kazakhstan. They termed the current Communist Party led by Serikbolsyn Abdildin a puppet of the Kazakh government. They also told journalists that they had to hold their conference in the neighboring Russian city of Chelyabinsk in June because the Kazakh authorities refused to permit them to organize it in Kazakhstan.

ETHNIC UYGHURS AGAINST THE IDEA OF REPATRIATION TO KAZAKHSTAN OF KAZAKHS FROM XIN JIANG.
Yusufbek Mukhlisi, the leader of the Almaty-based Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Eastern Turkistan, told RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty on 2 August that his organization opposes the mass repatriation of ethnic Kazakhs from Xin Jiang to Kazakhstan. During the official visit of Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao to Kazakhstan last week, the Chinese official promised the Kazakh leadership Beijing will allow the Kazakhs to emigrate to Kazakhstan. But according to Mukhlisi, if the estimated 2 million ethnic Kazakhs leave China's Xin Jiang province, ethnic Hans will replace them, which, in turn would be one more step towards the total "Hanization" of the province which the Uyghurs consider their home.

KAZAKHOIL STATE COMPANY DISCLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR GASOLINE PRICE HIKE.
Representatives of KazakhOil State Company told a press conference in Astana on August 2 that the company is not to blame for the abrupt rise in gasoline prices. The administration of Shymkent Oil Refinery in Almaty made a similar staement on 1 August. According to KazakhOil, which has a monopoly on oil and gas production in the country, and Shymkent Refinery administration, the price increase was not related to production processes. KazakhOil press secretary Gulbanu Nurghalieva said that the situation in the petroleum market is too complex to evaluate immediately and that there are many problems in the sector, including the fact that two other main oil refineries in Atyrau and Pavlodar are facing huge problems and too many intermediate organizations and companies were involved in selling gasoline.

The Shymkent Oil Refinery announced in mid-July its decision to raise gasoline prices by 50 percent. Vice Premier Danial Akhmetov told journalists on July 20 that an additional 100,000 tons of gasoline would be made available to Kazakhstan's farms at a lower price.

KAZAKH MINISTER OF ECOLOGY OUTLINES CONCERNS.
Ecology and Natural Resources Minister Serikbek Daukeev told a press conference in Astana on 2 August that his Ministry will implement a special program within the parameters of President Nursultan Nazarbaev's Program Kazakhstan- 2030. Daukeyev also said that China's activities on Ertis (Irtysh) river have led to a fall in the water level on the Kazakh side, which in its turn could affect drinking and technical water supplies in the cities of Oskemen, Semey and Pavlodar.

According to Daukeev, the mass deaths of Caspian seals earlier this summer were caused by contaminated waters of the Volga river, which, he said, brings pesticides and crude oil into the Caspian Sea. As for the water shortage problem in South Kazakhstan's cotton fields, Daukeev said that the Inter-government Department on water supply regulation has been led by an Uzbek official for more than seven years and has its headquarters in Tashkent, which means that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are not able to take part in the equal distribution of the irrigation waters among the four Central Asian states.

PETS BANNED IN CENTRAL ASTANA.
KODA News Agency reported on 2 August that starting this week, inhabitants of central Astana will be forbidden to keep dogs in their apartments. Some 3,000 homeless dogs and cats have been rounded up and destroyed.

PRESIDENT ATTENDS MILITARY MANEUVERS IN SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev observed military maneuvers in Otar Military Division in South Kazakhstan on July 31. He told journalists after the military exercises that additional financial support will be provided to the newly established South Kazakhstan Military Region.

KAZAKH OFFICIALS REFUSE TO COMMENT ON LATEST 'KAZAKHGATE' REVELATIONS.
Kazakh cabinet press spokesman Rasul Zhumaly told RFE/RL correspondents on 1 August that he was not able to comment on report published on 25 July in the "New York Times" that the Swiss authorities temporaraily froze Kazakh government bank accounts last year in connection with allegations that Western oil companies had channelled multi-million-dollar brivbes to leading Kazakh officials..

CHINESE OFFICIAL VICE CHAIRMAN MET WITH KAZAKH PREMIER, PRESIDENT.
A Chinese delegation led by Vice Chairman Hu Jintao arrived in Astana late on 27 July. and met the following day with Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev. At a subsequent press conference, the Chinese guest said that he feels "as if at home." Toqayev told journalists their talks focussed on further cooperation in oil and gas production, trade, and use of the waters of the Irtysh and Ile rivers. The only document signed after the meeting was an agreement on Chinese Financial Aid to Kazakhstan. The delegation left later on 28 July for Almaty, where Hu will hold talks with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT MET REPRESENTATIVES OF DIFFERENT POLITICAL PARTIES AND MOVEMENTS.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev held talks with representatives of different political movements and parties in his Almaty residence on July 27.

OTAN PARTY HELD ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION ON RELIGION.
On July 26, members of the pro-Nazarbaev OTAN party held a round-table discussion on religion in Kazakhstan. The main issue was a letter sent to the Kazakh government by experts of the Islamic Studies Institute earlier this month asking the Kazakh government to consider designating Friday a holiday as in other Islamic countries, and allowing traditional Islamic dress. OTAN religious expert Bolat Zhamkenov told RFE/RL correspondents Kazakhstan has about 44 different faiths and so it is not possible to make Friday a non-working day.

KAZAKH PREMIER HELD OFFICIAL MEETINGS.
Kazakh Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev held talks with IMF official Emmannuil Van der Messbruegge on 25 July in Astana. Van der Messbruegge highly evaluated Kazakhstan's successful repayment of its debts to IMF ahead of schedule. Toqaev told Van der Messbruegge that the Kazakh Cabinet is ready to start discussing the state budget allocations for 2001. The same day, Toqaev met David McManus, the Vice President of British Gas Company's head office, to discuss future cooperation.

TALIBAN'S SHARIYA RADIO BROADCASTING IN RUSSIAN TO CENTRAL ASIA.
RFE/RL correspondents reported on 26 July that the Taliban-controlled Radio Shariya broadcasts programs in Russian to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. A representative of Burhannuddin Rabbani's government-in-exile told RFE/RL that the radio station's headquarters are in Kabul. He also said that a special publishing house has been opened in Gerat, which produces literature in Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uighur, Uzbek, Tajik and Turkmen. That literature is reportedly available in Almaty.

SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN OBLAST ADMINISTRATION SENDS COMMISSION TO MAQTA ARAL AREA.
The administration of South Kazakhstan Oblast sent a special Commission to the Maqta Aral region on July 21 to study the situation in Kazakhstan's main cotton producing region, which.faces a severe water shortage as a result of the reduction by neighboring Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan earlier this month of the volume of irrigation water supplied to southern Kazakhstan. Vice Premier Danial Akhmetov visited Tashkent on July 15 trying to find a solution to the problem, and on July 18 Vice Premier Akhmetov and South Kazakhstan Oblast Governor Berdibek Saparbaev visited Dushanbe to ask the Tajik authorities to increase irrigation water supplies to South Kazakhstan Oblast. The results of the negotiations have never been officially announced. The chief of South Kazakhstan Oblast's Agriculture Department, Ismat Tursunqulov, told RFE/RL South Kazakhstan has received from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan only half the 80,000 cubic meters of irrigation needed for the region's 147,000 hectares of cotton fields.

KAZAKHTELECOM STOPPED RELAYING TRANSIT PHONE CALLS FROM UZBEKISTAN.
On July 17, KazakhTeleCom Company stopped providing services to clients in Uzbekistan who will now have to use expensive Western telephone lines instead of the former Soviet ones crossing Kazakhstan in order to call to CIS countries, including Russia. RFE/RL correspondents say that step might have been motivated by Uzbekistan's decision to stop irrigation water supply to South Kazakhstan's cotton fields.

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