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Kazakh Report: September 8, 2000


8 September 2000

PLANE CRASH REPORTED IN BALKHASH.
General Kopen Akhmadiev, who heads the Kazakh Air Force General Staff, told journalists on 8 September that a MiG-21 military jet crashed near Lake Balkhash on 6 September. The pilot, Colonel Zhiyentay Sandybaev, who is Deputy Commander of the Kazakh Anti-Airstrike forces' General Staff, and Major General Anatoliy Starysh suffered injuries when they ejected from the aircraft shortly before it crahsed. A state commission headed by Air Force commander Mukhtar Altynbaev is investigating the crash.

KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTRY RECALLS ALL KAZAKH STUDENTS FROM RELIGIOUS UNIVERSITIES IN ISLAMIC COUNTRIES.
Responding to a proposal by President Nursultan Nazarbaev (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 1 September 2000), Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry decided to recall all young men from Kazakhstan studying at religious institutions in Islamic countries. Nazarbaev had expressed concern at the possible import of extremism and radical Islam from neighboring countries. Currently 30 Kazakh students are studying at Islamic Universities in Saudi Arabia and 29 at Islamic schools of Iran.

FIRE REPORTED AT NUCLEAR PLANT IN MANGHYSTAU.
Itar-TASS-Kazakhstan reported on 8 September that a fire occurred at the nuclear plant in Manghystau in western Kazakhstan the night. The fire occurred in the cooling water reservoir and took about three hours to extinguish. A duty officer of Manghystau Oblast Administration told RFE/RL he had no information about the blaze.

250th ANNIVERSARY OF MUSLIM HOLY MAN MARKED.
Local religious and civic officials organized Islamic prayers and "dastarkhan" in Manghystau and Astana on 8 September to mark the 250th anniversary of Pir-Beket, a religious leader and warrior who led the Kazakhs of West Kazakhstan two centuries ago.

KAZAKH EDUCATION OFFICIAL: MICROSOFT HAS ISSUED PC PROGRAMS IN KAZAKH.
Deputy Minister of Education and Science Erlan Arynov told a seminar on the country's libraries on 7 September that Microsoft Corporation has recently issued special PC programs in Kazakh. It was also reported at the seminar that the first on-line newspaper in Kazakh, "Zhas Alash," started operating in Internet. The newspaper's net address is not yet available. Arynov also told RFE/RL correspondents that in the near future the first 20 volumes of the 100-volume Encyclopedia of Kazakh Oral Literature will be printed.

FIRST ANTHRAX VICTIM DIES IN SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN.
Taubay Omirzaqov of the village of Altyn Tobe in the Qazy-Qurt Oblast in South Kazakhstan died of intestinal anthrax on September 6 at the age of 47. He contracted the disease through eating contaminated meat. Nine other people who ate the same meat are under under medical surveillance and a further 31 are hospitalized in the city of Shymkent.

OTAN PARTY OFFICIAL HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Qazbek Qazkenov, who is Vice-Chairman of the pro-Nazarbaev Otan party, told a press conference in Almaty on 7 September that the party published a special photo-album devoted to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's 60th birthday in early July. The Sonar Company, QazaqMys Joint Stock Company and Tsentrkredit-Bank assisted the party in publishing the album in London.

NEW COINS ISSUED TO MARK ANNIVERSARY.
Kazakhstan's National Bank issued two new coins this week, one in gold worth 19,800 Tenges and one in silver worth 2,900 Tenges, to mark the 1500th anniversary of the city of Turkistan.

HUMAN REMAINS FOUND ON THE TERRITORY OF AQTOBE METAL PRODUCING PLANT.
The skeletons of hundreds of unidentified persons were found on the territory of the Aqtobe Metal Producing Plant in north-west Kazakhstan earlier this week. Officials say that the remains may be those of German soldiers captured by Soviets during World War II. Thousands of German prisoners used to work at different construction sites in Siberia and Kazakhstan in 1940s. The remains were unearthed by chance by excavators during the construction of new shops at the plant. The spot appeared to be a mass grave in which the bodies were interred methodically in several layers.

CHECHEN REFUGEES IN KAZAKHSTAN MARKED INDEPENDENCE DAY OF CHECHEN REPUBLIC OF ICHKERIA.
Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's official representative in Kazakhstan, Amancha Gunashev, told RFE/RL on 7 September that that about 10,000 Chechen refugees in Kazakhstan marked the independence day of Ichkeria on September 6. According to Gunashev, Chechens consider Kazakhstan as their second motherland, which hosted them in the most critical period of Chechen history. Hundreds of thousands of Chechens were deported to Kazakhstan by Stalin in 1944.

KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTRY PRESS CONFERENCE.
Kazakh Foreign Ministry advisor and Chairman of the Kazakh State Commission on Border Delimitation Bighali Turarbekov and the Deputy Head of the Kazakhstan Border Guard Forces, Major General Khusain Bergaliev, told a press conference in Almaty on 6 September that Kazakhstan and China have managed to resolve the issue of their disputed border areas. The only thing to be still discussed and solved by Astana and Beijing is the joint use of border crossing rivers (Ertis and Ile), Turarbekov said. It is well known that the People's Republic of China is building a dam across the Ertis river which may adversely affect the water level in the Ertis in neighboring Eastern Kazakhstan and Pavlodar oblasts. As for the border stand-off between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Turarbekov said the main problem is that of citizens of Kazakhstan living in villages situated on territory currently defined as belonging to Uzbekistan. The process of demarcating the Russian-Kazakh border is underway, but it will be a long process, Kazakh Foreign Ministry officials said.

SEVENTH KAZBUILD EXHIBITION TAKES PLACE IN ALMATY.
The International exhibition known as KAZBUILD opened in Almaty on September 6. Paul Blackford, a director of ITE company which organized the exhibition, told RFE/RL that over 100 construction companies from 24 countries including Belgium, Finland, Italy, Iran, Poland, and Turkey are taking part in the event. This is the seventh exhibition of its kind to be held in the CIS.

70 MILITARY RADIO STATIONS STOLEN FROM A MILITARY DIVISION IN ALMATY.
Six soldiers of the military unit # 61993 were arrested this week by Almaty police on suspicion of stealing 70 military radio stations last month. The stations were then sold for 35,000 tenges ($204) to a private company collecting non-ferrous scrap metal. Their value was estimated at 14 million tenges.

CENTRAL BANK CHAIRMAN HELD MONTHLY PRESS CONFERENCE.
Grigorii Marchenko, the chairman of Kazakhstan's Central Bank, held a press conference on September 6, at which he reported that the inflation rate last month was 0.2 per cent, and 5.1 per cent for the first eight months of this year. Marchenko told journalists that the main reasons for inflation in August were the abrupt rise in gasoline prices (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 4 and 11 August 2000) and in fees for general services.

OSCE CONVENES ROUND TABLE.
The OSCE Office in Almaty held a seminar in Astana on 2 September with the participation of Kazakh officials and pro-government and opposition political parties and movements. OSCE office director Herbert Salberg told RFE/RL that the OSCE managed to gather politicians of different viewpoints in one place in order to discuss the current political situation in Kazakhstan. He also expressed the hope that the round table will mark the first step towards a wider political dialogue between the authorities and the opposition in Kazakhstan. In general, both pro-government and opposition parties expressed their satisfaction with the results of the round table, in which officials of Kazakhstan's Central Elections Committee reportedly took part. Three more such dialogues will be held by OSCE's Almaty office in future.

Some political observers believe that President Nazarbaev agreed to send government officials and activists of pro-government parties to the seminar in order to try to improve his image abroad on the eve of his trip to New York. Nazarbaev left for New York on 4 September to take part in UN Millennium Summit. UN spokesman Vladimir Poliyakov told a press conference in Almaty on 5 September that Nazarbaev is expected to address the summit on September 6. OSCE and international human rights organizations have criticized Nazarbaev's dictatorial domestic policy and fraud and violations during last year's presidential and parliamentary elections.

LOWER CHAMBER OF KAZAKH PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES FORTHCOMING LEGISLATION.
Kazakhstan's Justice Minister Baurzhan Mukhamedzhanov told members of the Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber (Mazhilis) on 5 September that 62 new law drafts have been sent to parliament for discussion. Premier Qasymzhomart Toqayev said at the session that the adoption of lesgislation requires greater attention, adding that in many cases laws are adopted too fast without any preliminary discussion with competent experts. Unfortunately, Toqaev said, many experienced lawyers prefer to work for private law companies. He said ministries should make a greater effort to recruit competent lawyers.

It was also mentioned at the session that only 10 of 12 new laws termed priorities by President Nazarbaev were submitted for discussion. Mukhamedzhanov said the new draft Tax Code and Law on Transverse Prices have not been completed.

INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON ASSISTANCE TO HANDICAPPED CITIZENS HELD IN ALMATY.
A three-day international Seminar on Assistance to Handicapped Citizens opened in Almaty on September 4. It was organized by the Association of Handicapped Citizens of Kazakhstan and that of Almaty, with the assistance of Finland's Foreign Ministry. There are about 300,000 handicapped persons living in Almaty currently. The current economic crisis has made their lives even more difficult.

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