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Kazakh Report: August 25, 2000


25 August 2000

KAZAKH DEFENSE MINISTER HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE.
Kazakh Defense Minister General Sat Toqpaqpaev told journalists on 24 August that Kazakhstan's southern borders are being reinforced due to the clashes between religious extremists and Uzbek Army troops in the Bostandyq area of Tashkent Oblast, which is very close to the Kazakh-Uzbek border. Uzbek President Islam Karimov made a statement on Tashkent State Radio late on 24 August confirming that several Uzbek soldiers have been killed and others captured by religious militants who infiltrated Uzbek territory. Kazakhstan moved its Separate Offensive Brigade of the recently created South Military Area from Qapshaghay to the Kazakh-Uzbek border.

Toqpaqpaev also said that he had held telephone talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Essen Topoev. According to Toqpaqpaev, Astana is ready to provide the Kyrgyz Army with, as he said "the necessary military and technical assistance in the anti-terrorists operations in Batken area." Anti-Karimov forces managed to intrude into Kyrgyzstan's Batken Oblast from neighboring Tajikistan earlier this month. It is not clear if Kyrgyzstan has any intention of asking for any assistance.

KAZAKH PREMIER MEETS WITH CHINESE DELEGATION.
Kazakhstan's Premier Qasymzhomart Toqayev met with a Chinese delegation led by Dai Binguo, the Head of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee, on August 25. That delegation had been invited to visit Kazakhstan by the pro-presidential OTAN party, whose acting chairman Sergei Tereschenko also attended the talks together with the Chinese Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Yao Paosheng. Expanding economic and trade cooperation between Astana and Beijing was discussed.

CENTRAZBAT - 2000 MILITARY MANEUVERS SCHEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER 10--18.
The Kazakh Defense Ministry announced on 25 August that Russian Army Chief of General Staff General Anatolii Kvashnin, U.S Army General Staff's Henry Sheldon, Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksander Kuzmuk, and Chief of Mongolian Army General Staff General Serilbajiin Tajsebek will take part in the Centrazbat-2000 military maneuvers on September 10-18. The exercises will take place in Almaty Oblast.

Defense Minister Toqpaqbaev had said at his 24 August press conference that in addition to the members of the Central Asian Battalion (the military forces of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan), troops from Georgia, Mongolia, Russia, Turkey and the U.S. will take part in the exercises.

Kazakh Defense Ministry Press Secretary Major Abish Smailov told RFE/RL correspondents on 24 August that Toqpaqpaev would leave that day for Astrakhan, which borders on West Kazakhstan, to attend the last day of military exercises by Russian troops there.

SHYMKENT OIL REFINERY SUSPENDS OPERATIONS.
The Shymkent Oil Refinery, the largest in the country, suspended operations on 25 August. That move may lead to a further rise in gasoline prices.

NEW HEAD OF OSCE OFFICE IN ALMATY ARRIVES.
Herbert Salber, the new Chief of the OSCE office in Almaty, arrived in the former capital late on 24 August. Salber used to work in the OSCE mission in Yugoslavia. Since 1997 he had been working as Vice Chairman of German delegation at OSCE headquarters in Vienna. The former Chief of the OSCE's mission, Ulrich Schoening completed his tour of duty earlier this month.

PRESIDENT NAZARBAEV MET WITH KAZAKH OLYMPIC ATHLETES.
President Nazarbaev met with Kazakh Olympic athletes at his Almaty residence on August 25. In all, 131 Kazakh athletes will participate in the Olympic Games in Sydney next month, competing in 20 different sports. One of the winners of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ermakhan Ibraimov, will carry the Kazakh national flag at the opening ceremony. Kazakh sportsmen won 11 medals at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

CITIZENS OF KAZAKHSTAN MOURN KURSK SUBMARINE VICTIMS.
A memorial service was held at the Voznessenskii Cathedral in Almaty on 24 August for the118 sailors of Russia's Kursk Submarine. Hundreds of ordinary citizens and well known politicians visited the Russian Embassy in Almaty that day and expressed their condolences on the tragedy in the Barents Sea. RFE/RL correspondents reported that the sunken submarine's staff included several Muslims, among them Navy Captain of the Third Rank Marat Baygharin, an ethnic Kazakh from Saint-Petersburg and seamen Ildarov, Ghadzhiev and Mainaghashev. Two sailors from Tashkent, Sergei Rychkov (an ethnic Russian) and Rashid Ariapov (an ethnic Tatar) are among the victims.

Dozens of Uzbek and Kyrgyz soldiers are dying in the Surkhan-Dariya, Andizhan and Bostandyq areas of Uzbekistan, as well as in Batken area of Kyrgyzstan in the clashes with anti-Karimov forces. No commemoration ceremonies are being held there.

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT TO START ITS AUTUMN SESSION ON SEPTEMBER 1.
Both chambers of Kazakhstan's Parliament (Senate and Mazhilis) will start their autumn session on September 1. That will be the first joint session of the Kazakh Parliament's Upper and Lower Chambers after an almost two-month long break. Several draft laws are expected to be discussed at the session, including the law on CIS agreement on joint efforts against terrorism, signed on July 4, 1999 in Minsk. Draft laws on customs and judges are also scheduled for discussion.

PRESIDENT NAZARBAEV MADE STATEMENT ON SITUATION IN CENTRAL ASIA.
President Nazarbaev commented on the situation in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan late on 22 August. Speaking to journalists at his residence in Almaty, the Kazakh leader called on all citizens of Kazakhstan to be ready to "locate any alien, any possible extremist or armed person, in order to prevent a possible intrusion by religious extremists on to Kazakh territory." Nazarbaev also added that "the time has come to pay more attention to the possible threat posed to Kazakhstan from abroad than to be involved into internal political struggles." RFE/RL correspondents and those of 31 Kanal TV station were not invited to the press conference.

DEPUTY CHIEF OF SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN OBLAST'S INTERIOR AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT SAYS THERE ARE NO ALIENS IN THE AREA.
Colonel Talghat Kobelekov, who is Deputy Head of South Kazakhstan Oblast's Internal Affairs Department, told RFE/RL on 23 August that no aliens or armed persons have been found in South Kazakhstan as a result of the special survey operations carried out by local police and National Security Forces there. ITAR-TASS had reported that anti�Karimov groups entered Uzbek territory in the Northern part, namely in Bostandyq area of Tashkent Oblast, which is very close to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. Similar clashes have been going for about two weeks in the Surkhan�Dariya region of Uzbekistan and the Batken Oblast of Kyrgyzstan. The armed groups consisting mainly of ethnic Uzbeks claim that their main goal is to overthrow Islam Karimov's regime in Uzbekistan.

CONFERENCE TO BE HELD ON CONSTITUTION DAY.
Kazakhstan's Parliament and Constitutional Court are planning to hold a conference on law making on August 28�29, which is the eve of Kazakhstan's Constitution Day. Such issues as improving the Criminal and Civic Codes of the country, and other important laws and documents will be discussed at the conference. Kazakhstan's last Constitution was adopted on August 30, 1995. In October, 1998 it was drastically changed by the Kazakh Parliament.

CHANGES IN ASTANA CITY ADMINISTRATION.
Eskendir Seidikhanov was named Deputy Mayor of the Kazakh capital on 22 August. The First Deputy Mayor of Astana, Asqar Mamin, was reportedly appointed as Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications. Sansyzbay Yesimov, who used to be Deputy Mayor, became First Deputy Mayor of the city, while Gennadii Listopadin was appointed a new Deputy Mayor.

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