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Kazakh Report: May 4, 1999


4 May 1999

KAZAKH JOURNALISTS CRITICIZE DRAFT LAW ON MASS MEDIA.
Journalists representing both independent and state periodicals, as well as international companies and organizations, marked the International Media Day at the National Press Club in Almaty on 3 May. In particular, they harshly criticized the Draft Law on Mass Media in Kazakhstan, which was published in the local newspapers last week. It was stated at the gathering that if the Draft Law was not modified drastically, the situation around speech and press freedom in Kazakhstan would be difficult. It turned out that nobody knew anything about the draft's authors. It was also mentioned at the meeting that the Draft Law has never been distributed among the Kazakh Parliament members for discussion.

KYRGYZ AND UZBEK TRAIN TRANSIT THROUGH KAZAKH TERRITORY RESUMES.
Chiefs of Kazakh and Kyrgyz Railroad Communications Departments and Uzbek UZBEKISTON TEMIR YOLLARY Company held talks in Almaty on 3 May, where the issue of the Kyrgyz and Uzbek Trains Transits through the Kazakh territory was discussed. RFE/RL correspondents report that it was decided that the Uzbek and Kyrgyz trains would be allowed to resume journeys to Russia through Kazakhstan. All the Kyrgyz and Uzbek debts to the Kazakh Railroad Communications Department are to be paid off by 31 May.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT DEFINES THE REPATRIATE QUOTA FOR THIS YEAR.
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a Decree on Definition of the Quota for Kazakh Repatriates for 1999 on 3 May. According to RFE/RL correspondents, the Decree will allow 500 families of ethnic Kazakhs to move to Kazakhstan from other countries this year for permanent residence. Since Kazakhstan became independent in 1991, thousands of Kazakh families immigrated to Kazakhstan from Afghanistan, China, Mongolia, Iran, Turkey, Russia and Uzbekistan.

FOREST FIRES REPORTED IN NORTHERN KAZAKHSTAN.
RFE/RL correspondents quote local news agencies as reporting that unusually hot weather in the northern part of Kazakhstan, namely North Kazakhstan, Qaraghandy and Aqmola Oblasts, has caused forest fires. Hundreds of hectares of unique woodland are reportedly being destroyed. Four children were killed by thick smoke caused by a forest fire in Qaraghandy Oblast.

PROMINENT KAZAKH JOURNALIST IN PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL.
Prominent Kazakh journalist Armial Tasymbekov was arrested in Almaty last week when he arrived from Astana by train and put into a mental hospital. He is accused of daubing graffiti in Almaty criticizing President Nazarbayev and expressing support for former Prime Minister Kazhegeldin.

According to RFE/RL correspondent in Astana, Tasymbekov is in a clinic for patients with mental disorders in Astana. In an interview he gave to RFE/RL on 3 May, Tasymbekov, who is a prominent journalist and author of several books about black spots in Kazakh-Soviet history, denied the accusations against him.

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT VISITED KAZAKHSTAN DURING WEEKEND.
Kyrgyzstan's President Asqar Aqayev and his wife visited Kazakhstan over the weekend. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose one of whose daughters is married to the Kyrgyz President's son, welcomed Aqayev at the Almaty airport. No details of Aqayev�s visit are available for now.

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