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Kazakh Report: August 11, 2000


11 August 2000

KAZAKH PRESIDENT HARSHLY CRITICIZED SOME MINISTERS AND REGIONAL GOVERNORS.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev took part in a session of the Kazakh Cabinet on 11 August at which Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev reviewed the Cabinet's activities in the last seven months. Nazarbaev challenged the assertion by South Kazakhstan Oblast Governor Berdibek Saparbaev that the economic situation in South Kazakhstan is improving, and asked how many plants and factories in the region are facing problems. Saparbaev failed to give the exact figure. Minister of State Profits Zeinolla Khakimzhanov and Minister of Trade, Energy and Industry Vladimir Shkolnik similarly failed to supply exact information about the number of industrial enterprises that have suspended operations. Nazarbaev harshly criticized all three men, terming their performance "inappropriate."

AZAMAT PARTY LEADERS HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Azamat party leaders Ghalym Abelseitov, Murat Auezov and Piotr Svoik held a press conference in Almaty on 11 August. It was their first public appearance since the parliamentary elections last year. Svoik criticized the current Kazakh government's alleged failure to solve social and economic problems in the country. Svoik also criticized former Kazakh Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin, the main political challenger to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who is . currently living in self-imposed exile in Europe. Svoik argued that "Mr. Kazhegeldin has no right to announce himself as the only leader of Kazakhstan's joint opposition forces." He said that such a "corrupt person as Akezhan Kazhegeldin" has no "moral right to call himself the leader of the opposition." Kazhegeldin is chairman of the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan. The Azamat party leadership expressed their positive attitude to the idea, first proposed by Kazhegeldin, of holding a National Dialogue between the government and opposition.

INVESTIGATION INTO GASOLINE PRICE HIKE INCONCLUSIVE.
Members of the special commission created to determine the reasons for the recent 150 percent rise in gasoline prices in western Kazakhstan told a press conference in Astana on10 August that they could not determine the causes of that price hike, RFE/RL's Astana bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 4 August 2000). The commission members said they are not empowered to interfere in the activities of privately-owned gas stations.

QUARANTINE IMPOSED IN FOUR REGIONS OF SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN.
Officials of Kazakhstan's Sanitary Control Agency have imposed quarantine in the Tulkibas, Tole-bi, Qazyqurt and Baydibek regions of South Kazakhstan where cases of intestinal anthrax have been reported resulting from the consumption of infected meat. A total of 28 people have been hospitalized with the disease.

FIRE IN EASTERN KAZAKHSTAN REACHES CHINESE TERRITORY.
A forest fire in the Altay mountains in Eastern Kazakhstan Oblast crossed the Kazakh-Chinese border this week and destroyed some 400 square kilometers of Badan-tea plantations in Xin Jiang Uyghur Autonomous Province.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT DISCUSSED THE SITUATION ON TAJIK-UZBEK BORDER WITH CHIEF OF KAZAKH NATIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev met with Kazakh National Security Committee Chairman Alnur Musaev in Astana on August 8 to discuss the situation on Tajik-Uzbek border and its possible consequences for Kazakhstan. Forces opposed to Uzbek President Islam Karimov have clashed with Uzbek troops near the Tajik-Uzbek border. National Security Committee Press Secretary Kenzhebulat Beknazarov told RFE/RL on 9 August that Kazakh forces are ready to prevent any incursion into Kazakh territory.

COMMANDER OF SOUTH MILITARY AREA APPOINTED.
President Nazarbaev has signed a Decree appointing General Major Alikhan Zharbolov Commander-in-Chief of Southern Military District. Alikhan Zharbolov used to be Vice Minister of Defense. He also was Commander of an Infantry Battalion in Otar, South Kazakhstan.

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT DEPUTY BRANDS MINISTERS 'ILLITERATE.'
Serik Abdrakhmanov, who is a member of the Mazhilis (the lowr chamber of the Kazakh Parliament), convened a press conference in Almaty on August 8 at which he criticized Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrisov and Kazakh Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev for illiteracy. According to Abdrakhmanov, the Kazakh-language text of an agreement on joint anti-crime efforts signed by Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrisov and Iranian officials earlier this year contained at least 150 spelling and grammatical errors. An Indian-Kazakh agreement on cooperation signed by Kazakh Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev and Indian officials contains similar mistakes, Abdrakhmanov said. Abdrakhmanov also expressed his negative attitude to the fact that there were no exact explanations from the Cabinet on its decision to cede about 5,000 square kilometers of Kazakh territory to China last year.

PRESIDENT NAZARBAEV AGAIN CRITICIZES OIL GIANTS.
Arriving in Astana on 7 August, President Nazarbaev met with several ministers and highly evaluated the "excellent work" of Minister of State Profits Zeinolla Khakimzhanov. Nazarbaev harshly criticized U.S. Chevron's activities in West Kazakhstan, as well as those of other domestic and international oil companies working in the area. He said Chevron, the MangystauMunayGaz Company and the Eurasia Financial group should make their activities, especially their financial operations, transparent and accessible to ordinary citizens of the country. "We know," said Nazarbaev, "how other companies work in the world. And we are not going to allow international companies working on Kazakh soil to evade taxes." Nazarbaev issued a similar warning in Pavlodar last week (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 4 August 2000).

Anatolii Diller, the Financial Director of MangystauMunayGaz Company, told RFE/RL on 8 August that his company has paid all its taxes promptly and owes nothing to the Kazakh State Treasury.

Meanwhile unnamed sources in Astana told RFE/RL, that Nazarbaev's 30 year old nephew Qayrat Nazarbaev has been appointed Vice President of KazakhOil State Company. Qayrat Nazarbaev was Vice Governor of Astana City until 7 August.

KAZAKH CABINET RESHUFFLE.
President Nazarbaev signed a Decree on 7 August dismissing Minister of Transport and Communications Serik Burkitbaev and Minister of Labour and Social Protection Nikolai Radostovtsev. Nazarbaev simultaneously appointed as new Transport Minister the former head of the Kazakh People's Saving Bank, Karim Massimov. Alikhan Baymenov, who used to be Chief of the Kazakh Presidential Administration, was named to succeed Radostovtsev.

On 8 August, Nazarbaev named Serik Burkitbaev a Presidential Advisor. His main duty will reportedly be supervision of the Internet and high technology.

GHANI QASYMOV'S PATRIOTS' PARTY REGISTERED AT KAZAKH JUSTICE MINISTRY.
The Patriots' Party led by former Kazakhstan Customs Committee head Ghani Qasymov, who is currently a deputy to the Lower Chamber of parliament, was registered at the Kazakh Ministry of Justice on 7 August. Qasymov told RFE/RL on 8 August that the party's membership is increasing every day.

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