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Kazakh Report: May 7, 1999


7 May 1999

FORMER PRIME MINISTER DISCLAIMS ALLEGATIONS.
RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty report that an open letter by former Kazakh PM and current leader of the Kazakh Republican People's Party, Akezhan Kazhegeldin, was published in the 7 May issue of 21VEK newspaper. Akezhan Kazhegeldin announced in his letter that all the accusations against him and his wife Nataliya Bykova�Kazhegeldina put forward by the General Procuracy of Kazakhstan were "groundless." Kazakh Procurator General Yuriy Khitrin had accused Kazhegeldin and his wife of breaking the laws for paying taxes earlier last month.

DAY OF NATIONAL ARMY MARKED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
May 7 is the Day of Kazakh Defense Forces and the 7th anniversary of the establishment of the Kazakh National Army. RFE/RL correspondents report from Almaty that the Almaty Mayor's Office gathered together veterans of WW II in the building. Chevron company distributed food among 400 WWII veterans, many of whom were also given free automobiles. Meanwhile in Astana, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev awarded several top military officials with medals and orders "for their contributions to the strengthening of the National Defense Forces."

POLICE DISMISSED HUNGER STRIKERS IN SHYMKENT.
Hunger strikers of Shymkent Phosphorus Producing Plant were reportedly dismissed by police forces from the central square of Shymkent City on 6 May. 17 strikers have been demanding overdue salaries for the last 3 years. In all, the bankrupt Plant owes its former workers about 600 million Tenges ($1 equals 114 Tenges currently). The City administration says that it had permitted the strikers to hold their action of protest on the Plant's territory, not in the Center of Shymkent. That was the reason why the hunger strikers were dismissed by police reportedly.

30 crippled veterans of another Phosphorus Producing facility in Taraz City started a strike too. They are also demanding their overdue salaries.

STANDOFF BETWEEN TV CHANNEL KTK AND NATIONAL SECURITY COMMITTEE.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Almaty that the administration of Channel KTK accuse officers of the National Security Committee (formerly KGB) for their intrusion into the TV channel's headquarters without preliminary warnings and for their "groundless demands to dispose some materials on the Russian Cossacks used a week ago by the Channel. KTK administration considers the action as a violation of the Kazakh law on mass media. 8 officers entered the building without permission on May 6.

NEW DETAILS ON ARMIAL TASYMBEKOV.
RFE/RL correspondents and Ermek Begishev, a representative of the International Human Rights Watch in Astana, met with students and colleagues of Armial Tasymbekov, who had been released from Astana Central Psychiatric Clinic earlier this week. Mr. Tasymbekov was placed in the hospital for patients with mental disorders at the end of last month. Before being "hospitalized" he was accused by officers of the Kazakh National Security Committee of "having been involved in making anti�Nazarbayev and pro-Kazhegeldin graffiti on walls and fences of Astana" His colleagues and students told RFE/RL correspondents today that officers of the Kazakh National Security Committee had interrogated them asking questions about their friends and teachers but adding that the officers had never mentioned Armial Tasymbekov�s name.

JOURNALIST ARMIAL TASYMBEKOV RELEASED FROM PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Astana that journalist Armial Tasymbekov was released from Astana City's Central Psychiatric Clinic on 5 May. Doctor Dmitriy Degtiyarev told RFE/RL correspondents by phone that Armial Tasymbekov had received the necessary treatment in the clinic and was "absolutely sober and healthy." Doctor Degtiyarev declined to give any detailed information about Mr. Tasymbekov�s diagnosis and treatment process, saying that it was confidential data, and according to the Kazakh laws he had no right to give that sort of information to anyone except the police or other official boards. According to Dr. Degtiyarev, Armial Tasymbekov "had a temporary mental disorder." Mr. Tasymbekov himself told the RFE/RL correspondent in the hospital on Monday that he had been surveyed by some unknown people before his being put to the clinic, adding that a Colonel of the Kazakh National Security Committee (formerly KGB) had tried to interrogate him at his work place (Lev Gumilev�s Eurasian University) asking questions connected to appearances of anti�Nazarbayev and pro�Kazhegeldin graffiti on walls and fences of Astana earlier this year.

TWO US CITIZENS BEATEN AND ATTEMPTED TO BE ROBBED IN ALMATY.
During the night between May 4 and May 5, a criminal group tried to rob an apartment of two U.S. ladies - representatives of several American Charity foundations working in Kazakhstan. Neighbors of the two American females, living in the same 9-story apartment block, heard a loud noise and women screaming in the night and called the police. The police immediately surrounded the building and the criminals were arrested. Investigations are underway. The two ladies are hospitalized with serious injuries. RFE/RL correspondents quote the Almaty Police Department as saying that the criminals attempted to rob the apartment.

WORKERS MOVEMENT CALLS TO MARK THE VICTORY DAY.
Leader of the Almaty City Workers Movement, Otegen Qabaziyev, called all the veterans of WW II, as well as the members of the Movement and those of the Communist Party to mark Victory Day on May 9. Mr. Qabaziyev said at a press conference held on 5 May that his movement had sent a letter to the Almaty Mayor's Office asking for permission to hold the demonstration on May 9. He also told journalists that special red flags and banners had been prepared for the participants of the demonstration to be held.

LEADERS OF OTAN PARTY MET WITH VETERANS OF WWII.
OTAN party leaders and activists held a special meeting with veterans of World War II on 5 May. Special gifts, namely watches, were reportedly distributed among the veterans, and a special concert was staged for them in Almaty City. RFE/RL correspondents report that the war veterans were asked to join the ranks of the OTAN party. OTAN is a party led by pro�Nazarbayev politicians.

NUMBER OF HUNGER STRIKERS IN SHYMKENT INCREASING.
According to RFE/RL correspondents, the number of hunger strikers at the Shymkent Phosphorus Producing Plant rose to 17 on 6 May. The strikers are demanding their salaries for the last three years to be paid off.

KAZAKH-CHINESE NEGOTIATIONS ON ERTIS AND ILE RIVERS STARTED IN BEIJING.
RFE/RL correspondents quote local mass media as reporting that Chinese�Kazakh talks on the joint use of the Qara Ertis (Irtysh) and Ile (Ili) rivers crossing the Sino�Kazakh borders started on 5 May in the Chinese capital, Beijing. It is well known that Chinese authorities have been increasing the volume of construction works at the Qaramay Oil Field, digging Canals connecting the Qara Ertis and Ile rivers with the Oil Producing Complex. The construction activities of the Chinese Oil Producers caused some anxiety in Kazakhstan and Russia, since the volume of water being brought by Qara Ertis and Ile rivers to North-East Kazakhstan and Russian Siberia might be decreased as a result of the huge canals construction work taking place in the Xin Jiang province, also known as Eastern Turkistan, West China. The negotiations are expected to last until May 12.

WORKERS OF SHYMKENT PHOSPHORUS PRODUCING PLANT CONTINUE HUNGER STRIKE.
Twelve former workers of the bankrupt Phosphorus Producing plant in Shymkent, South Kazakhstan are continuing their hunger strike that started earlier last week. They demand their overdue salaries and social allowances to be paid. Local authorities tried to persuade the hunger strikers to stop their protest action, promising to solve the problem in the nearest future. But the hunger strikers demand the debts to be paid immediately. The Shymkent Phosphorus Producing Plant was declared bankrupt last year after nobody expressed any interest in its purchase.

FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER MET KAZAKH JOURNALISTS AT BBC.
According to information provided by the Kazakhstan mass media and quoted by RFE/RL correspondents, Akezhan Kazhegeldin, the former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, held meetings with Kazakhstani journalists working at the BBC, London, on May 03. Mr. Kazhegeldin said that he was not going to take part as a candidate in the Parliamentary elections this year, adding though that some members of his Kazakhstani Republican People's Party might participate in the races. Akezhan Kazhegeldin also said that his new book called Economic Modeling would be published in Russian and English this year, and after its publication, he was going to return to Kazakhstan. Meanwhile....

BOSTANDYQ DISTRICT COURT IN ALMATY STARTED HEARINGS INTO CASE CONNECTED TO KAZHEGELDIN�S RESPUBLIKA NEWSPAPER.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Almaty that on 5 May the Bostandyq District Court of Almaty City chaired by Judge Nataliya Rusakova started hearings into a case opened against the Kazakh Justice Ministry by Akezhan Kazhegeldin�s people. The accusation faced by the Kazakh Justice Ministry is about its refusal to register the newspaper Respublika. Vice Chairman of the Kazakhstani Republican People Party's Executive Board, Amirzhan Qosanov, told RFE/RL correspondents on 5 May that all the papers needed for the official registration of the newspaper Respubl.ika had been collected and sent to the Kazakh Ministry of Justice in August last year. The newspaper started suing the Kazakh Justice Ministry after the later had been delaying the registration of the periodical.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT REPRIMANDS SEVERAL TOP OFFICIALS.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Astana that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev reprimanded several top officials of Kazakhstan, including Vice Premier and Finance Minister Uraz Zhandosov, Minster of Energy, Trade and Industry Mukhtar Abliyazov and others for "their failure to conduct the implementation of some Presidential Decrees and programs." President Nursultan Nazarbayev gave an exclusive interview to RFE/RL correspondents in Astana on 4 May, where among other "important issues" he mentioned the situation surrounding the independent mass media in the country, saying that "Kazakhstan needs further democratic reforms, including further strengthing of speech and press freedoms'. The new Draft Law on Mass Media was published in Kazakh periodicals this week. Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber is expected to start discussing the Draft Law on Mass Media very soon. The Chairman of the Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber, Marat Ospanov, also mentioned in interviews he gave to local TV channels that Kazakh mass media needed to be more free and really independent.

SLOVAK DELEGATION VISITED ASTANA.
Official delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister of the Slovak Republic, Frantisek Dlouhopolcek, visited Astana on 4 May. Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymozhomart Toqayev met with Mr. Dlouhopolcek and discussed perspectives of Kazakh�Slovak mutual relations in economic, political and cultural aspects. Also the role of the UN and Balkan conflict was reportedly taken into consideration in the discussions.

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB OPENED IN THE KAZAKH CAPITAL.
On May 05, the National Press Club was officially opened in the Kazakh capital, Astana. RFE/RL correspondents report that Vice Premier and Finance Minister Uraz Zhandosov and other top officials of Kazakhstan took part in the ceremony of the Press Club's opening. The National Press Club in the former capital, Almaty has been functioning since the early 90's.

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