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Kazakh Report: April 23, 1999


23 April 1999

KAZAKH PREMIER HELD CABINET SESSION.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Astana that Kazakh PM Nurlan Balghymbayev held a Cabinet Session on 23 April, where Presidential Decrees and the government's programs on anti-corruption measures were discussed. Premier Balghymbayev said that the main decisions made at the session held by the Kazakh Anti-organized Crime and Corruption Commission earlier this month, as well Presidential Decrees on shortening of the official boards expenses should be implemented by all officials of the country. Meanwhile the anti-corruption campaign seems to have been getting wider.

RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty report that Executive Director of Finconcord Company Vitaliy Frolov was supposed to report to the Tax Police on 22 April in order to answer some questions in connection with the criminal case started against the Finconcord Company, owner of Oskemen Tantalum Producing Plant, but failed to do so. Some sources say that Mr. Frolov escaped to Russia. Finconcord Company is accused of having not paid taxes (about 60 million Tenges) and salaries to the plant's workers (141 million Tenges).

RFE/RL correspondents quote some unnamed officials as saying that the former Deputy Finance Minister Zhomart Muqashev, who was arrested last week for "power misuse," might have had some connections with Vitaliy Frolov. Finance Minister of Kazakhstan Alexander Pavlov in his interviews with the local mass media tries to persuade journalists not to draw preliminary conclusions before the investigations are over.

Vice-Mayor of Semey (Semipalatinsk) City - Mr. Salimbayev was also arrested this week, being accused of financial mishandling. The chiefs of Internal Affairs Departments in South Kazakhstan and Qostanay Oblasts were arrested this week as well. Deputy Interior Minister Nikolay Vlasov is in jail too, facing similar accusations.

NEW CHIEF OF THE KAZAKH CUSTOMS COMMITTEE APPOINTED.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Astana that Kazakh PM Nurlan Balghymbayev issued a Decree on 23 April appointing a new Chief of the Kazakh Customs Committee. Vice Chairman of the Kazakh National Security Committee Maratqaliy Nukenov replaced General Ghaniy Qasymov in that post. The latter is in Israel on a working visit. Sergey Kuzmenko, who was acting Chief of the Kazakh Customs Committee during Ghaniy Qasymov's absence became an officer at the Kazakh Tax Police Department.

KAZAKH SCIENCE AND HIGHER EDUCATION MINISTER VLADIMIR SHKOLNIK VISITED PAVLODAR.
Valdimir Shkolnik, Kazakhstan's Minister of Science and Higher Education, visited the Chemical Plant in Pavlodar City, North Kazakhstan, on 22 April. He has got acquainted with the situation at the plant's used mercury store. About 900 tones of processed mercury had been accumulated at one of the plant's stores. There is a danger of the mercury's spill to the Ertis (Irtysh) river.

SNOW, BLIZZARDS IN KAZAKHSTAN AFFECTING ECONOMY.
RFE/RL correspondents report that strong blizzards in Kazakhstan this week seriously affected the Kazakh economy. Three men were killed by a sudden storm on the Qapshghay Lake. The bodies of the drowned people have not been found yet. 12 family houses in Rysqulov Town, South Kazakhstan oblast were ruined by flood caused by the snow storms.

TRADE UNIONS SEEM TO ORGANIZE A NEW MOVEMENT.
Leonid Solomin, leader of the Kazakh Free Trade Union Confederation, said at press conference on 22 April in Almaty that his organization is going to create a new political movement called BIRLESU (Unity). The new movement-to-be will take part in the Parliamentary elections scheduled for December this year.

EMIR OF QATAR PAID AN OFFICIAL VISIT TO ASTANA.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Astana that on the evening of 21 April the Emir of Qatar, Sheykh Khammad Bin Khalifa Attani arrived in the Kazakh capital on an official visit. He was met at the Astana airport by the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. They reportedly held tete-a-tete talks, at which they discussed the future perspectives of the bilateral cooperation of the two countries. The main issue discussed at the meeting was about the work of the joint Kazakh-Qatar Economic Commission. RFE/RL correspondents report that due to the sudden weather change, Qatari top officials cut short their visit. Moreover, it had been expected that 9 official documents would be signed. But in fact only two documents, namely agreement on the further diplomatic relations signed by the Qatari and Kazakh Foreign Ministers and joint economic communique signed by Emir Sheykh Khammad Bin Khalifa Attani and President Nuirsultan Nazarbayev were adopted. No press conference was held either.

PRESIDENT NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV LEAVES FOR WASHINGTON DC.
RFE/RL correspondents in Astana quoted Kazakh Presidential Press Secretary Asylbek Bisenbayev as reporting that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev left for Washington DC on 22 April. He is taking part in official marking of NATO's 50-th Anniversary. Beyond that Kazakh President plans to hold talks with IMF and EBRD officials, as well as with US State Secretary Madeleine Albright. Kazakh leader is also expected to be given a floor at the US Congress and the Carnegie Endowment. Meetings with top officials of the US Oil Giants Chevron and AEC are also planned.

KAZAKH COMMUNISTS HELD PRESS CONFERENCE IN ALMATY.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents in the former capital of Kazakhstan Serikbolsyn Abdildin, leader of the Kazakh Communist Party, held a press conference at the Scientists House of Almaty on 22 April. He told RFE/RL correspondents that the Communists of Kazakhstan marked Vladimir Lenin's birthday by putting flowers to his monument situated in the Ibray Altynsarin park. Mr. Abdildin also said that the Communist Party is going to take part in the Parliamentary elections scheduled for December this year, adding that he did not believe that the elections would be held in a real free and democratic atmosphere.

KAZAKH PREMIER'S DAUGHTER MARRIED MILITARY PROCURATOR'S SON.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Almaty that the daughter of the Kazakh Prime Minister Nulran Balghymbayev married the son of Kazakh Military Procurator Zharmakhan Tuyaqbayev. Russian TV star Valdis Pelsh and the famous Kazakh Actor Nurlan Onerbayev were reportedly invited to the wedding party for entertaining the guests. Fireworks and other luxurious moments of the wedding were broadcast by the KHABAR TV Agency.

SIX KAZAKH MILITARY JETS RETURNED TO KAZAKHSTAN.
RFE/RL correspondents quote Kazakh Defense Minister General Mukhtar Altynbayev as saying that six Kazakh Military jets MIG-21 impounded in Baku, Azerbaijan earlier last month, were returned to Taldy-Qorghan Military airbase in Kazakhstan on 19 April. General Altynbayev made the statement on 20 April at a press conference in Almaty. The jets were on board a Russian air-cargo RUSLAN heading to Eastern Europe. Mukhtar Altynbayev gave no details on the background of the story, adding that the six airplanes had been inherited by the Kazakh air force after the collapse of the Soviet Union and that they would be sold to some other countries in the nearest future.

VICE INTERIOR MINISTER OF KAZAKHSTAN ARRESTED.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Almaty that General Nikolay Vlasov, Kazakh Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs, was arrested this week. General Vlasov is accused of abuse of power and financial irregularities. His main duties were to control the penitentiary system of the country. It turned out that he had used some state finance allocated by the Interior Ministry for jails and labor camps, for his own purposes. His colleague General Musayev was reportedly involved in the "illegal activities" too. Some private firms led by General Musayev's relatives were misusing the above mentioned money, depriving in such a way, inhabitants of Kazakh prisons of coal, heating and food.

FORMER PRIME MINISTER AKEZHAN KAZHEGELDIN FACES PROBLEMS AGAIN.
RFE/RL correspondents report that the Kazakhstan Prosecutor-General Yuriy Khitrin and Chief of the Kazakh State Commission on Fight against Corruption and Organized Crime Oralbay Abdikarimov have announced that a criminal case has been brought against the former Kazakh Premier, now leader of the Kazakh People's Democratic Party Akezhan Kazhegeldin and his wife. They are accused of "having avoided tax payments". Akezhan Kazhegeldin's lawyer and aide Vitaliy Voronov said to journalists yesterday that the "criminal case started against Mr. Kazhegeldin might be defined as a political step of the Kazakh government against the leader of the opposition." .

NATIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE STILL INVESTIGATIONG ANTI-NAZARBAYEV SLOGANS.
Nurtay Abyqaev, head of Kazakhstan's National Security Committee told RFE/RL correspondents that investigations into appearances of anti-Nazarbayev and pro-Kazhegedlin inscriptions on walls and fences of Astana and Almaty are still underway. Abyqayev told RFE/RL correspondents in Astana on 21 April that the inscriptions noticed on some walls and fences of Astana had been made by members of some political parties and movements, who were arrested and interrogated. As for Almaty, according to Abyqayev, the anti-Nazarbayev inscriptions and posters there had been written by hooligans and other people, who are far from any political activities. Investigations are continuing.

CENTRAZBAT MILITARY MANEUVERS DISCUSSED.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Almaty that on 20 April, official representatives of the countries interested in participation in the CENTRZABAT military exercises, held talks at Ankara Hotel in the former capital. CENTRAZBAT, or Central Asian Battalion maneuvers have been held twice on the Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek territories earlier in 1997 and 1998. On those occasions military units of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Russia, Turkey and US took part in the exercises. The maneuvers were held under the auspices of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Russian and Uzbek officials did not attend the 20 April talks.

NEW STRIKES AT OSKEMEN TANTALUM PRODUCING PLANT.
RFE/RL correspondents reported on 20 April that workers of Tantalum Producing plant in Oskemen are again on strike, demanding their overdue salaries. Meanwhile Vitaliy Frolov, Executive Director of Finconcord Company, the owner of the facility, fled to Russia after a criminal case against him had started. He is accused of financial mishandling and power misuse.

SITUATION IN ARAL AREA.
In response to the hunger strikers, namely women demanding their overdue salaries and social allowances, the Governor of the Aral Region Berdibek Saparbayev promised to pay off all the debts to the local citizens (about 167 million Tenges, $1 equals 113 Tenges currently) by the end of this year.

SEMIRECHYE COSSACKS WARN OF EXODUS.
RFE/RL correspondents reported from Almaty that Vladimir Ovsiyannikov - leader of Semirechye Cossacks complained about the situation of the Russian Cossacks living in Kazakhstan. He told journalists on 20 April that the "Kazakh government is oppressing some traditions and culture of the Cossacks". Kazakh laws prohibit the existence of any military units other than regular army troops on Kazakh territory. Russian Cossacks are traditionally a military social group remaining from old tsarist Russia times. Vladimir Ovsiyannikov warned that in the event that the Kazakh government does not change its attitude to the Russian Cossacks, all the Russian Cossacks living in Kazakhstan would move to Russia.

KAZAKH-CHINESE NEGOTIATIONS ON THE RIVERS CROSSING THE TWO COUNTRIES TO BE HELD ON 5 MAY.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev told RFE/RL correspondents in Astana on 21 April that the first round of the Kazakh-Chinese negotiations on the joint usage of rivers crossing the Sino-Kazakh borders would be held in Beijing on 5 May. Mr. Toqayev also mentioned that Kazakh-Turkmen borders will be "demarked" very soon. He added that one of the Turkmen-Kazakh documents signed at the Ashgabat summit held earlier this month in the capital of Turkmenistan was on the Turkmen-Kazakh border demarcation. Also according to Mr. Toqayev, Kazakh officials held talks with Taleban leaders recently (no dates mentioned). The main issue discussed between the Kazakh authorities and Taleban leaders was the possible export of the Kazakh wheat to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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