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Kazakh Report: April 30, 1999


30 April 1999

U.S. AMBASSADORS TO THE CASPIAN STATES TO START DISCUSSING THE CASPIAN OIL ISSUE.
RFE/RL correspondents quote Kazakh News Agencies as reporting that on April 30, U.S. Ambassadors to Azerbaijan, Iran Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan are expected to gather in New York for discussions of the Caspian Sea oil exploration projects.

UZBEK-KAZAKH ECONOMIC STANDOFF CONTINUES.
According to RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty, governors of Zhambyl, South Kazakhstan and Almaty Oblasts returned from Tashkent, Uzbekistan this week. They were there in order to negotiate the situation of natural gas delivery. Uzbekistan drastically cut the volume of the natural gas delivered from its territory to Kazakhstan, allegedly because of Kazakh debts. In addition, the Uzbek side warned Kazakhstan that the price of natural gas would double in the nearest future. The governors of the three Kazakh Oblasts reportedly failed to reach any agreement with Uzbek authorities. The Kazakh government is reportedly going to bar all Uzbek trains from crossing Kazakh territory again, starting May 1. Turkmenistan agreed to deliver cheaper natural gas to Kazakhstan earlier this year, but there are no alternative pipelines for that project.

KAZAKH JOURNALIST PLACED IN PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC.
Armial Tasymbekov, a very well-known Kazakh journalist, was reportedly arrested at the Almaty railroad station on his arrival from Astana by train this week. RFE/RL correspondents quote Mr. Tasymbekov�s colleagues and officials of the Kazakh National Security Committee (KNB) as saying that Armial Tasymbekov was arrested and placed in the Almaty Clinic for Patients with Mental Disabilities by KNB officers for "his having been involved in making anti�Nazarbayev and pro�Kazhegeldin graffiti on buildings and fences of Astana." Investigations are underway. Armial Tasymbekov is the author of several books on victims of the Soviet regime. One of his books entitled ALZHIR (the name of a complex of labour camps for wives of oppressed Soviet leaders � Aktyubinskiy Lager Zhen Izmennikov Rodiny) had been screened by film-makers several year ago.

KAZAKH PILOT ARRESTED IN TAJIKISTAN FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING.
A member of the Kazakh air crew, Mayor S. (name is not available) was arrested by Tajik authorities in Dushanbe airport for having in his bags 2,5 kilograms of heroin and 18 kilograms of opium. Investigations are underway. According to RFE/RL correspondents, the Kazakh pilot was arrested last week.

UP-TO-DATE DATA ON SIX KAZAKH MILITARY JETS RETURNED TO KAZAKHSTAN BY AZERBAIJAN.
Kazakh Defense Ministry announced that the 6 MIG-21 military jets that were returned to Kazakhstan by Azerbaijan after having been impounded en route to Eastern Europe, have been brought to Shymkent City area from the military airbase in Taldy�Qorghan. The 6 airplanes are being prepared for sale to some foreign states. The military airbase in Taldy�Qorghan area has reportedly tens of more similarly outdated military airplanes that have remained from the former Soviet Military system. All the old MIGs will be sold in the nearest future, said officials of the Kazakh Defense Ministry.

BOLSYN MOVEMENT PROTEST NEWLY ADOPTED LAWS ON SOCIAL ALLOWANCES AND COMPENSATIONS.
The BOLSYN movement, comprising the Association of Afghanistan War Veterans, the Union of Chernobyl Veterans, Single Mothers Organization and other social boards, held a session on 28 April in the former capital of Kazakhstan. RFE/RL correspondents report that the leaders of the movement protested some laws adopted by the Kazakh Parliament earlier this week. The new laws annulled some privileges, namely financial compensations and allowances for crippled citizens, war veterans and single mothers. Members of the BOLSYN movement accused the Kazakh government and Parliament of having adopted the law without preliminary discussions in the mass media.

KIMEP AND INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION HELD SEMINAR ON THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SITUATION IN KAZAKHSTAN ON THE EVE OF THE 3RD MILLENNIUM.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty, the Kazakh Institute of Management and Economic Prognosis (KIMEP), together with the International Management Association, held a scientific seminar on the economic and social situation in present-day Kazakhstan. It was mentioned at the seminar that Kazakhstan is facing enormous economic problems, some of which had been caused by "improperly organized privatization, the result of which the interests of only a limited group of people had been taken into account". It was also said at the seminar that "the democratic situation in Kazakhstan on the eve of the 3rd millennium was far from being sound, since all the power in country was concentrated in one person".

RULES ON STUDENT ADMISSIONS TO UNIVERSITIES TO BE CHANGED THIS YEAR.
On 28 April, Kazakh Premier Nurlan Balghymbayev confirmed a new regulation on university education adopted by the Kazakh Parliament this week. A special commission led by Finance Minister and Vice Premier, Oraz Zhandosov, and Minister of Higher Education and Science, Vladimir Shkolnik will work out the new rules about student admission to Kazakh universities. No details are available. But RFE/RL correspondents in Astana quote some Parliament members as saying that only 45 per cent of the Kazakh students (mainly those who have families to support) will be given monthly stipends starting this academic year.

STATE LANGUAGE FESTIVAL TOOK PLACE IN THE CAPITAL.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Astana that on 28 April, a Kazakh Language Festival was organized in the capital of Kazakhstan. Ethnic Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and Germans living in the capital and speaking fluent Kazakh and knowing Kazakh national traditions and rites were given a floor to perform their skills.

VETERANS OF SHYMKENT PHOSPHORUS PRODUCING PLANT DEMAND THEIR RIGHTS TO BE RESPECTED.
According to a report sent by RFE/RL correspondents, 344 crippled veterans of Shymkent Phosphorus Producing Plant in South Kazakhstan started an action of protest on 27 April. The protest organizers have lost their health while working for the plant. Their financial compensations and pensions have not been paid since last year reportedly. Now the plant's handicapped veterans demand some part of the Plant's property to be distributed among them instead of overdue pensions.

HOMELESS CITIZENS OF ALMATY CITY STAGED A PICKET.
Hundreds of homeless inhabitants of the former Kazakh capital gathered in front of the Almaty Mayor's office on 27 April to demand that City authorities pay attention to their problems. Hundreds of collective farms (kolkhozes) of Almaty oblast that were dissolved after the collapse of the former Soviet system have been abandoned by local villagers in favor of Almaty, the largest city of Kazakhstan. All these newcomers have been facing a housing problem since that time. The protestors demanded that all of Almaty City's dormitories and closed kindergartens be distributed among the homeless free of charge. RFE/RL correspondents report that 20 homeless people have started a hunger strike.

BIRLESU MOVEMENT CRITICIZE DRAFT LAW ON ELECTIONS THAT WAS DISCUSSED AT THE KAZAKH PARLIAMENT.
The recently-created BIRLESU political movement has harshly criticized the Kazakh Parliament's lower Chamber - Mazhlis - for its preliminary adoption of the Draft law on amendments to the Kazakh Presidential Decree on Elections. Representatives of the movement said at a press conference in Almaty on 27 April that the amendments were "anti-democratic", noting that all the local governors had to be elected by local citizens, not appointed or elected by regional maslikhats (councils). Also the regulation about a fee to be paid by any candidate to the Kazakh Parliament was attacked by the movement's leaders. They said that the fee was too high for ordinary people, which meant that not anyone could try himself or herself to become a possible member of Kazakh Parliament.

ORLEU MOVEMENT AND THE KAZAKH REPUBLICAN PEOPLE'S PARTY PROTEST DRAFT LAW ON MASS MEDIA.
One more law, discussed at Kazakh Parliament this week faced harsh criticism on 27 April. Seydakhmet Quttyqadam - Leader of Orleu Movement and Amirzhan Qosanov - Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Kazakh Republican People's Party said at press conference held yesterday in Almaty that the draft of the new law on mass media in Kazakhstan, discussed by Kazakh Parliament, was "very far from being democratic." RFE/RL correspondents quote Mr. Quttyqadam and Mr. Qosanov as saying that the new law on mass media "would increase Kazakh state control over all periodicals, TV channels and radio stations

AMNESTY IS EXPECTED TO BE LAUNCHED SOON.
RFE/RL correspondents reported on 27 April that the Kazakh Justice Ministry is working on an amnesty for those who have committed minor crimes. The Amnesty-to-be will be devoted to celebrations of the beginning of theThird Millennium, scheduled for the end of this year. The situation in Kazakh jails and labor camps has been reported to be very dramatic. Lack of food and clothes, unemployment and the increasing number of inmates in penitentiaries and also the financial shortage made the situation in prisons very tough. The decision to announce the amnesty for at least some part of imprisoned Kazakh citizens might have been motivated by the idea to relieve the burden of the Interior Ministry.

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