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Kazakh Report: August 18, 2000


18 August 2000

KAZAKHOIL COMMENTS ON RISE IN CRUDE OIL PRICES.
Gulbanu Nurghalieva, who is spokeswoman for Kazakhstan's State oil company KazakhOil, told RFE/RL correspondents on 18 August that the increase in crude oil prices to $32 per barrel will be of great benefit to Kazakhstan. She added that the Kazakh government should be responsible for raising the price of gasoline on the domestic market, not KazakhOil (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 14 August 2000).

CHIEF OF KAZAKH STATE AGENCY OF STATE SERVICES APPOINTED.
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev signed a decree on 17 August appointing Zautbek Turisbekov as Chief of the Kazakh State Agency of State Services. Turisbekov had earlier worked in the Presidential Office. Before that, he was Chief of the State Agency for Migration and Demography.

PUTATIVE KILLER OF TALGHAT IBRAEV COMMITTED SUICIDE.
Amangeldy Amanghaliev, a suspect in the April murder of leading Kazakh arms exports expert Talghat Ibraev (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 21 April 2000) committed suicide last night in a restaurant in Almaty's Orbita-3 district. Police had been searching for him since the end of last year after a number of murders had taken place in the former capital. In April this year Talghat Ibraev, a leading arms expert and head of KazSpetsExport Company was shot dead near his house by unknown persons. According to official data, AmanghAliyev may have been involved in the assassination.

When a group of policemen tried to arrest AmanghAliyev on 16 August, he opened fire and tried to escape. The police returned his fire and wounded Amanghaliev, who then killed himself with a shot in the head. Amangeldy AmanghAliyev was the son of a former leading KGB top official. He served with the Soviet Army in Afghanistan from1984--1986, then studied at Moscow State University.

RFE/RL correspondents report that the Ibraev assassination case may now be closed. Ibraev's murder happened after the scandal resulting from the illegal sales of obsolete Soviet MiG-21 military jets from Kazakhstan to North Korea. Two persons who might have been involved into the deal, Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbaev and Chairman of National Security Committee Nurtay Abyqaev, were sacked last year in the wake of the scandal, but were later reappointed to top posts. The former is now Commander-in-Chief of Kazakhstan Military Air Forces, and the latter is a Deputy Foreign Minister.

EXPLOSION REPORTED IN A MILITARY CAMPUS IN ALMATY AREA.
An explosion occurred on 16 August in one of the apartments of a five-storey building in a military campus in the Almaty area. Preliminary investigations suggest that a gas oven may have been left turned on.

SPECIAL COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE HEART ATTACK DEATHS AMONG WORKERS OF TENGIZCHEVROIL.
The Kazakh government has set up a special state commission to investigate fatal heart attacks among employees of the Kazakh-American joint venture Tengizchevroil. Eleven persons died of heart attacks or stomach problems between 1998 and 1999, and five more so far in 2000.

ALMATY DISTRICT COURT POSTPONES HEARINGS OF '21 VEK' CASE.
The Bostandyq District Court in Almaty decided to postpone hearings of the suit against the newspaper "21 VEK" scheduled for August 16. The new date of the hearings is August 28. The firm "Sakharniy Tsentr" has accused the paper of insulting its dignity and spreading lies about its activities. Bigeldy Gabdullin, who is editor-in-chief of "21 VEK," told RFE/RL that the case is politically motivated. He said Sakharniy Tsentr used to be headed by President Nazarbaev's son-in-law Rakhat Aliev, who is now head of the Almaty Oblast department of the National Security Committee.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT MEETS LEADER OF JAPAN'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
On August 17 President Nursultan Nazarbaev met with the visiting leader of Japan's Democratic Party, Sutomu Hata. The two men discussed further economic cooperation between Tokyo and Astana. Hata used to be Japanese Premier in 1994, and has also been a member of three Japanese Cabinets. He has headed the opposition Democratic Party since1998. Kazakhstan's Vice Premier Erzhan Otembaev also met with the visiting Japanese guest and expressed his gratitude to the Japanese investors helping to build the Trans-Asian railroad and a bridge over the Irtysh River in eastern Kazakhstan.

AIR KAZAKHSTAN COMPANY FACES FUEL SHORTAGE.
Air Kazakhstan Company was constrained on 15 August to postpone flights to Bangkok and Seoul because of a fuel shortage. Air Kazakhstan official Yurii Gurev told journalists on 16 August that the shortage has already lasted one month, and that Air Kazakhstan aircraft are now forced to land in Azerbaijan, Russia and Uzbekistan on their way to other countries in order to refuel. All international airlines have been asked to bring extra fuel for return flights. The three major oil refineries in oil-rich Kazakhstan reportedly do not produce aviation fuel. Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry spokeswoman Gulsum Zhaleldinova told RFE/RL on 16 August that the situation is under the Ministry's control and that the gasoline shortage problem will be solved in the nearest future.

ALMATY REGIONAL COURT BANS ANOTHER NEWSPAPER.
The Medeu District Court in Almaty on 16 August banned a private newspaper called "Do i Posle Ponedel'nika" for "publishing articles damaging Kazakhstan's statehood." The newspaper faced similar charges earlier this year and had to change its name. (It was originally called "Nachnem s Ponedel'nika.") The paper's editor-in-chief, Ramazan Esergepov, says that the verdict was politically motivated, adding that the Court's decision could be defined as "another step towards censorship in the country." During the seven years he has worked as an independent journalist, Esergepov has been brought to trial 22 times. He plans to appeal the 16 August ruling to the Almaty City Court.

KAZAKH VICE PREMIER MEETS OUTGOING OSCE OFFICE HEAD.
Deputy Premier Aleksander Pavlov held talks in Astana on 16 August with Ulrich Schoening, who will shortly leave his post as head of the OSCE Office in Kazakhstan. The two men exchanged views on the current political, economic and ecological situation in Kazakhstan.

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT DELEGATION ARRVES IN ASTANA.
A U. S. State Department delegation held talks in Astana on 16 August with Marat Tazhin, who is an advisor to Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev and secretary of the Kazakh National Security Council. U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Richard Jones is reportedly accompanying the U.S. delegation. The delegation is supposed to divide into several groups in order to hold talks with various state and non-government boards. The U.S. politicians are also expected to visit customs points along Kazakh-Uzbek and Kazakh-Kyrgyz borders during their fortnight stay in Kazakhstan.

CABINET DISCUSSES NEW DRAFT TAX CODE.
The cabinet discussed the new draft tax code at a 15 August session chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Pavlov. Pavlov. told ministers that the old Tax Code adopted in Kazakhstan in July 1999 does not correspond to current conditions. Minister of State Revenues Zeinolla Khakimzhanov said that Special Committee at his Ministry has outlined the new draft code, adding that some taxes will be reduced, and some increased. Khakimzhanov also said that the rate of VAT will not change. Interior Minister Qayirbek Suleymenov argued that the new Tax Code should alleviate the burden on the Kazakh Army and Police. According to Khakimzhanov, the revised version of the draft tax code will be reviewed by the Cabinet in September.

ETHNICITY OF KAZAKHSTAN CITIZENS DEFECTED IN NORWAY REPORTED.
Unnamed sources in Kazakh National Security Committee told RFE/RL on 15 August that no ethnic Kazakhs are among more than a dozen Kazakh citizens who defected in Norway earlier this month. According to that information, the Kazakh citizens were ethnic Chechens, Koreans, Russians and Uyghurs from the cities of Almaty and Taldy-Qorghan. They said one of the reasons for their request for political asylum in Norway was the unstable situation in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and the threat of a spillover of religious extremism in those regions into southern Kazakhstan. Some 30 tourists from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have applied for political asylum in Norway this month.

KAZAKHSTAN'S SOUTHERN BORDERS REINFORCED IN RESPONSE TO SITUATION ON TAJIK-AFGHAN, TAJIK-UZBEK AND KYRGYZ-UZBEK BORDERS.
The Kazakh authorities on 15 August started reinforcing the southern border of the country in the wake of the new clashes between Uzbek militants and government troops in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The 5th Infantry Division at Otar garrison was moved to Zhambyl Oblast's Zhualy region, which borders on Kyrgyzstan. A separate Marines Battalion of Qapshaghay garrison was moved to the area as well. In addition, Almaty's Military Hospital was partially moved to Taraz City, the administrative center of Zhambyl Oblast.

INHABITANTS OF A JUVENILE PENITENTIARY SLASH THEIR VEINS TO PROTEST CONDITIONS IN DETENTION.
Forty-six young prisoners at one of the juvenile jails in Taldy-Qorghan area opened their veins last weekend in an attempt to attract journalists' attention to their problems. Some of them also slit open their stomachs. Investigations are underway. Conditions in Kazakhstan's prisons are known to be critical.

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