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Kazakh Report: April 16, 1999


16 April 1999

CZECH PRIME MINISTER EXPECTED TO KAZAKHSTAN THIS WEEKEND.
RFE/RL correspondents in Astana quote the Kazakh government press service as reporting on 16 April that Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman is expected to arrive in Astana on 18 April. He is scheduled to meet his Kazakh counterpart Nurlan Balghymbayev and President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Mainly economic issues are expected to be discussed. After a ceremony of signing economic cooperation agreements, the Czech and Kazakh delegations will hold apress conference. Milos Zeman and his delegation will visit Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 20 April.

NUMBER OF PROTESTERS IN QYZYL-ORDA OBLAST INCREASING.
RFE/RL correspondents report on 16 April that the number of strikers in Aral area is increasing. Numerous workers of local plants and other people are joining a group of women gathered in front of Qyzyl-Orda City Mayor's office demanding payment of their overdue salaries. Reports about the strike made by KHABAR News Agency were not allowed to be sent to Almaty and Astana by the local authorities.

Meanwhile 13 of 15 hunger strikers at Mangystauprom-geofizika Joint Stock Company in western Kazakhstan were hospitalized on 15 - 16 April. RFE/RL correspondents reported earlier this week that the workers of the Joint Stock Company were demanding their overdue salaries for the last 24 months. Their salaries were offered to be paid off in spaghetti and pasta reportedly. The workers refused to receive their salaries in such form and continued fasting. Two of the hunger strikers continue fasting.

PRICES FOR SUGAR AND PETROLEUM INCREASING.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Almaty on 16 April that prices for sugar and petroleum, which are largely imported from abroad, are rising by up to 30-40 percent. After the abrupt fall in value of the Tenge earlier this month, many goods became more expensive.

CINEMA MAKERS OF KAZAKHSTAN COMPLAIN.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Almaty on 16 April that Kazakhstan's film makers held a session on 15 April in the former capital. The main issue discussed at the gathering was the problems currently faced by the Kazakh cinema. It was reported at the session that the Kazakh cinema could die if the Kazakh government "continues to neglect its needs".

OTANSHYLDAR PARTY HOLDS SESSION.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Almaty on 15 April that leaders of the pro-Nazarbayev party OTANSHYLDAR (Fatherland Lovers) held a session on 14 April. The party members announced that nowadays Kazakhstan's priority is not the idea of an open society, but of strengthening national statehood. The OTANSHYLDAR party is going to take part in Parliamentary elections scheduled for this year.

LEADER OF ORLEU PARTY COMPLAINS.
Seydahmet Quttyqadam, leader of ORLEU party, complained at a press conference in Almaty on 14 April that the city authorities were creating obstacles and pressure upon his party. He pointed out the circumstances in which his party held its session earlier this week. According to Seydahmet Quttyqadam, his party had been supposed to gather in the building of Trade Union's Confederation But at the last moment the administration of the building refused to open the doors and ORLEU party had to hold its session at Democracy House. The ORLEU party will also participate in the elections to the Kazakh Parliament's lower Chamber - Majilis.

IMPORT OF RUSSIAN AUTOMOBILES TO KAZAKHSTAN EXPECTED TO INCREASE.
After the introduction of the new laws on additional taxes on cars brought to the Kazakh territory for sale, the number of Russian-made vehicles is expected to increase. RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty quote Russian Federation's Embassy in Kazakhstan on 15 April as stating that since Kazakhstan is a member of the Customs Union, which comprises also Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, Russian cars imported to Kazakhstan will continue to be tax free, which will help to increase their import to Kazakhstan.

KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER MET CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO KAZAKHSTAN.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Astana on 15 April that the main issue discussed at the meeting held between Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev and Chinese Ambassador to Kazakhstan Li Huei on 14 April was the problem of the joint use of rivers crossing the Kazakh-Chinese borders, including the Irtysh river crossing Chinese Western province of Xin Jing (also known as Eastern Turkistan) and Eastern Kazakhstan Oblast. The Chinese Ambassador told Toqayev that Beijing was discussing Kazakh proposals on the matter. No details are available.

PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV MET SOME LOCAL AND FOREIGN OFFICIALS YESTERDAY.
RFE/RL correspondents report on 15 April from Almaty that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met several Kazakh officials and US. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Richard Jones at his Almaty residence the previous day. Among the Kazakh officials who met with the Kazakh leader there was Qadirzhan Damitov, Chief of the Kazakh National bank, who reported on the situation following the decision to allow the Kazakh National currency to float. Mr. Damitov said that the first wave of the abrupt devaluation had passed, and Tenge had started to stabilize. The Leader of Kazakhstan's Orthodox Christians, Reverend Father Alexis, told President Nazarbayev that the Eparchy of Almaty, Astana and Semey Orthodox Christians will be moved from Almaty to Astana soon.

U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan Richard Jones reportedly expressed his satisfaction with Kazakhstan's official position on Kosova and NATO's anti-Serb airstrikes. Ambassador Jones is scheduled to leave for Washington DC. today, to take part in talks on the Caspian Sea. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is expected to go to Washington DC. in a week. He will participate in celebrations devoted to the 50th anniversary of NATO.

LATEST RATES AT THE KAZAKH NATIONAL BANK.
RFE/RL correspondents report on 14 April from Almaty that the rate of the Kazakh Tenge to the US$ was fixed as 113.45 tenge/$1 Tenges at the Kazakh Central Currency Stock Market on 13 April. Today's rate is reportedly unchanged. Meanwhile, RFE/RL correspondents reported from Eastern Kazakhstan that on 13 April at some exchange points in Oskemen City the rate was 138 Tenges for $1. Many exchange offices in the capital, Astana, are closed today, allegedly because of a lack of hard currency.

WORKERS OF MANGYASTAUPROMFIZIKA JOINT STOCK COMPANY ON HUNGER STRIKE.
RFE/RL correspondents report on 14 April from Almaty that hundreds of workers at Mangystaupromfizika Joint Stock Company in Western Kazakhstan have been on hunger strike for 15 days now. The Joint Stock Company is involved in research works at the natural oil and gas fields of the Western Kazakhstan. Kazakh government and KAZAKOIL company have not paid their salaries for more than two years.

WOMEN OF QYZYL-ORDA ON HUNGER STRIKE TOO.
RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty were told by telephone on 14 April that seven women of Qyzyl-Orda Oblast, in the Aral Sea area, started a hunger strike on 12 April. They are striking in the center of Qyzyl-Orda City demanding their salaries for the last 18 months. The leader of the striking group, Baytgul Alimbetova, says that several families in Qyzyl-Orda oblast have died of famine. One of the striking ladies, Bartagul Aldabergenova, was reportedly hospitalized on 12 April with a nervous breakdown.

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