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Kazakh Report: November 3, 2000


3 November 2000

ROUND TABLE ON REGIONAL SELF-GOVERNING HELD IN ALMATY.
Representatives of the Alash, Otan, Orleu, Azat, Azamat, Lad, Patriots Party, People Congress and other political parties, parliament deputies and experts held a round table discussion in Almaty on 3 November on regional self-government in Kazakhstan. Kazakh Justice Minister Igor Rogov told the participants that the regional self-government in Kazakhstan is legally supported by the Constitution adopted through National referendum in 1995. Kazakh Minister of Information and Social Concord Altynbek Sarsenbayev also took part. Azamat party co-chairman Peter Svoik said that Kazakhstan should stop conducting experiments on elections of regional akims (governors) and that the time had come to adopt laws on elections of regional governors. Patriots' Party leader Ghany Qasymov, who is a member of the Mazhilis (the Lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament), supported Peter Svoik's idea, saying that the election of local governors should have begun at least five years ago. At a similar seminar on regional self-government held at the parliament building on 1 November, Senator Zhandar Karibay-Uly told RFE/RL that no mechanisms for regional self-governing had ever been defined by Kazakh experts. Nor have the optimum number of Akimat (governing board) members for each region, or the functions and duties of Maslikhats (councils) and Akimats been clearly defined, Karibay-Uly said.

SEMINAR ON JAPANESE ECONOMY.
A seminar of Japan's experience in economic development was held at Kazakhstan's National Academy of Sciences on 3 November. The seminar was organised by Japanese Embassy in Almaty and the Oriental Department of the Kazakh National Academy of Sciences. Professor Hitsuto Kato of Hitotsubashi University acquainted Kazakh scientists with the history of Japan and its culture, while Professor Hashimoto of Hosi University gave a lecture on Japan's experience of economic development since the Second World War. Kazakhstani orientalist Maten Bazilkhan-Uly told RFE/RL that Japan's experience in economic development is of great importance for nowadays Kazakhstan.

CHAIRWOMAN OF ATA-MEKEN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Sholpan Sarmurzina, the Chairwoman of Ata-Meken Rights Protection Committee held a press conference late on 2 November, at which she said Minister of Information and Social Concord Altynbek Sarsenbayev should be fired. Sarmurzina blamed the drastic situation faced by independent mass media in Kazakhstan on the policy conducted by Kazakhstan's Ministry of Information and Social Concord. She also said that some journalists,including well-known Kazakhstani publicist Erik Nurshin, should first be examined by psychiatrists. Nurshin told RFE/RL on November 3 that Sarmurzina's statement on his mental state is groundless. He added that Sarmurzina had violated at least two Kazakh laws, one on mass media, another one on protection of journalists, by having made such a statement.

KAZAKH LEADERS MEET WITH VISITING SAUDI DEPUTY PREMIER.
Vice Premier of Saudi Arabia Prince Sultan ibn Abdul Aziz al-Saud and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev held talks in Presidential Palace in Astana late on 1 November. At press conference held after the talks, Saudi Vice Premier said he was very happy that Kazakhstani side expressed its support for the Saudi Arabia's official position supporting the idea of Palestine's statehood with its capital in Jerusalem. The Kazakh President did not comment on that statement, but said that he wanted to express his gratitude to Saudi officials for allocating $15 million for construction of the new building of the Kazakh Parliament's Upper Chamber, the Senate.

President Nazarbaev also told journalists that the situation in Afghanistan was discussed at the meeting, and that Almaty is ready to host possible peace negotiations between the Taleban and those of Burkhanuddin Rabbani's government. According to the Saudi Vice Premier, the second session of the Saudi-Kazakh inter-state economic commission will be held in the holy month of Ramadan this year. Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud met earlier on 1 November with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev. The two men signed an agreement whereby Saudi companies will invest in reconstruction of the Astana-Qaraghandy highway.

Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan established diplomatic ties in April 1994. A Saudi Embassy opened in Kazakhstan in February, 1996 , and a Kazakh Embassy was established in Er-Riad in May 1997.

CHIEF OF KAZAKHSTAN'S CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE.
Leonid Solomin, the head of Kazakhstan's Confederation of Free Trade Unions, told a press conference at National Press Club in Almaty on 2 November that his organisation was accepted into membership of the World Labour Confederation (WLC) at that organization's last session in Brussels on October 2. Solomin said that his organisation was the first such organisation in a former Soviet republic to join the WLC.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON OPEN ECONOMIC POLICY OPENS.
An international conference devoted to Open Economic Policy and Peculiarities of Its Implementation sponsored by the OSCE opened in Almaty on 2 November. Representatives of Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry, Justice Ministry, Ministry of Economy, and NGOs are taking part. The conference was organised within the framework of preparations for the 9th Economic Forum scheduled for May 15-18, 2001 in Prague. Omirbek Baygeldy, the Vice Speaker of the Kazakh Parliament's Upper Chamber, told RFE/RL that the main idea of the conference was to discuss how to introduce a truly open economic policy in countries like Kazakhstan. He said that open economic policy meant transparency of all the financial operations conducted by the government. Ordinary citizens should know how the government is using foreign investments, and all officials who commit any sort of economic crimes should be brought to trial, Baygeldy said.

PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES PLIGHT OF KAZAKH REPATRIATES FROM UZBEKISTAN.
Parliament deputies discussed the situation of Kazakh repatriates from Uzbekistan on November 1. Altynshash Zhaghanova, who is Chairwoman of the Kazakh State Agency on Migration and Demography, said that Kazakh government is not able to pay the $100 fee for each ethnic Kazakh intending to move to Kazakhstan from neighboring Uzbekistan for permanent residence. According to Uzbek law, every person refusing Uzbek citizenship must pay $100 worth fee to the state treasury. Zhaghanova also said that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have not yet ratified an agreement regulating migration process signed by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan a couple of years ago.

FORMER PREMIER IGNORES SUMMONS FROM PROSECUTOR-GENERAL.
Kazakhstan's Prosecutor General Yuriy Khitrin told journalists on November 1 that former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin failed to comply with a summons to his office that day. Kazhegeldin, who is leader of Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan and the main political opponent of President Nazarbaev, has lived in exile since early last year. Eight administrative and criminal accusations have been brought against him. Republican People's Party Executive Committee Amirzhan Qosanov told RFE/RL on 1 November that Mr. Kazhegeldin never received any official summons from the Kazakh Prosecutor General. Qosanov also said that in the current circumstances it is not safe for Kazhegeldin to come to Kazakhstan. he said the accusations against Kazhegeldin are politically motivated. Last week, Qosanov was deprived of his exit visa to travel abroad.

KAZAKH CABINET SESSION.
A session of the Kazakh Cabinet on October 31 focussed on economic trends for the first nine months of the year. Kazakh Economy Minister Zhaqsylyq Kulekeev said that in all, the volume of industrial output increased by 15.4 percent year-on-year in that period. It was also mentioned that Kazakh repatriates arriving in Kazakhstan for permanent residence face problems finding employment. Only 13.7 per cent of the Kazakh repatriates who arrived from abroad between 1991 and 1999 have found jobs, Kulekeev said. Prosecutor General Yurii Khitrin said that criminal cases have been opened against several former Kazakh officials Kazakhstan, who allegedly committed crimes while in office. No surnames were mentioned.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF 'SOLDAT' NEWSPAPER INTERROGATED.
Ermurat Bapi, the Editor-in-Chief of "SolDat" newspaper was interrogated by officers of Interior Affairs Ministry's Military Crimes Branch on October 31. Bapi told RFE/RL that as a result of the interrogation, two of the four main accusations put forward against him have been dropped. All the accusations concerned alleged insults by Bapi of the personal honour and dignity of President Nazarbaev, which is a criminal offense under the Kazakh Criminal Code.

"SolDat" printed articles criticising Nazarbaev earlier this year. and has been under pressure ever since.

NEW BOOK ACCUSES KAZAKH PRESIDENT.
A book entitled "Materials on Genocide of the Kazakh Nation Organised by Nursultan Nazarbayev" was launched in Almaty on 31 October. Its author Arken Uaqov is a former Professor of the Kazakh Institute of Architecture who was accused of organising "a mass action of disobedience" in December 1986 against the election of ethnic Russian Gennadii Kolbin as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and was sentenced by Almaty City Court to four years in a labor camp. In 1994 he returned home and was fully exonerated. Uaqov told journalists that the main goal of his book is to show the people of Kazakhstan what really happened during the rebellion by the Kazakh youth in Almaty and several other cities of Kazakhstan in December 1986. Uaqov said Nazarbaev, who was then Chairman of the Kazakh SSR Council of Ministers played one of the key roles in the oppression organised by the Soviet system and KGB against activists and participants to December events.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT ARRIVES IN SPAIN.
President Nazarbaev, who is on his official visit to some European states, arrived in Spain on 30 October for an official visit during which he was to meet with King Juan Carlos I, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and parliament chairwoman Louise Fernando Rubi. Presidential press service official Aleksandr Ivanov said Nazarbaev and Aznar will discuss bilateral trade and economic cooperation. Nazarbaev will also address a conference on investment possibilities in Kazakhstan on 31 October.

KAZAKHSTAN TO APPOINT NEW AMBASSADOR TO US.
KODA news agency reported on 30 October, citing unnamed Kazakh Foreign Ministry sources, that Kanat Saudabaev, a former Kazakh Foreign Minister and Ambassador to Turkey and UK, will be appointed as the new Kazakh ambassador in Washington. Saudabaev is close to President Nazarbaev and was director of the Kazakh State Circus before the demise of the USSR.

ALMATY PENSIONERS PROTEST.
The traditional monthly gathering pensioners in Almaty took place on Republic Square on 30 October. On this occasion, Almaty's elderly citizens expressed their protest against the new draft Law on Land adopted by the Lower Chamber of the Kazakh Parliament on 26 October.

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