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Kazakh Report: May 14, 1999


14 May 1999

KAZAKH PRESIDENT MET WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF JAPANESE MITSUI & CO COMPANY.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents in Astana, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with top officials of the Japanese "Mitsui and Co" Corporation in the Kazakh capital on May 13. The main issue discussed at the meeting concerned further cooperation between the Japanese giant and the Kazakh government. Possible investments to the Kazakh economy, purchase of Kazakh nonferrous metals, exchange with valuable metals, involvement of Japanese specialists and capital in works on improving the Kazakh communications system, import of Japanese electronics and technologies, and many other issues were discussed reportedly. Mitsui and Co has helped Kazakhstan to construct the first Central Asian Golf Club in Almaty. Also the Japanese company's participation in the reconstruction of the Astana airport has been discussed before.

CHIEF OF THE KAZAKH AGENCY ON STRATEGIC PLANNING AND REFORM THINKS THE CABINET CRISIS IN RUSSIA MIGHT AFFECT KAZAKH ECONOMY.
Erzhan Otembayev � Chief of the Kazakh State Agency on Strategic Planning and Reform - said at a press conference held on 13 May in Astana that the current government crisis in the neighboring Russian Federation might affect the Kazakh economy. He added though that the size of such an affect was not clear. Meanwhile the Kazakh national currency, the Tenge, continues to devaluate. It has become more than two Tenge less in comparison with the situation last week. The rate of the Kazakh national currency on 14 May was quoted as 117 Tenges 08 Tiyins to the US dollar.

KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER QASYMZHOMART TOQAYEV COMMENTS ON OSCE�s CRITICISM OF THE KAZAKH ELECTIONS LAW.
Qasymzhomart Toqayev, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, told RFE/RL journalists on May 13, that Kazakhstan "would always welcome free dialogue with the OSCE, in terms of opinion exchange regarding the situation around human rights and democratic reforms in Kazakhstan." Mr. Toqayev added though that Kazakhstan was searching for a path of its own to attain real democratic achievements. An OSCE delegation led by Gerar Stoudman had visited Astana and Almaty this week and expressed its regrets on the human rights situation and elections laws of Kazakhstan. Kazakh FM Qasymzhomart Toqayev declined to comment on situation concerning Russia's Cabinet at a press conference held on 13 May.

KAZAKH POLITICIANS ON THEIR PARTICIPATION IN US CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ON KAZAKHSTAN.
Chairman of the Kazakh Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law, Yevgeniy Zhovtis, and Co-chairman of the Azamat Movement, Piyotr Svoik, held a press conference in the former capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty, on 13 May, where they introduced journalists with the results of the US Congressional Hearings on Kazakhstan held last week, May 06. Mr. Zhovtis and Mr. Svoik, along with Akezhan Kazhegeldin � the former Kazakh Premier and current leader of the Kazakh People's Republican Party - took part in the hearings. According to Mr. Zhovtis and Mr. Svoik, US congressmen expressed their concern regarding the human rights situation and rule of law in Kazakhstan, as well as weak points in the Kazakh election law.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV TALKED WITH CHAIRMAN OF THE KAZAKH NATIONAL BANK QADYRZHAN DAMITOV.
According to RFE/RL correspondents report, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev held talks with Qadyrzhan Damitov, Chairman of the Kazakh National Bank. The talks were held on 12 May. Mr. Damitov briefed President Nazarbayev on the National bank's activities over the past year. At a press conference held afterwards the Chairman of the Kazakh National Bank told journalists that in general the Kazakh National Bank had managed to preserve a more or less stable situation in spite of the world's economic crisis.

AIR KAZAKHSTAN COMPANY FACING PROBLEMS.
A TU�154 plane had to return back to Astana airport on 12 May due to technical problems. The plane was scheduled to bring passengers from Astana to Moscow. Just several minutes after the beginning of the flight, fire was noticed in one of the plane's engines and the crew had to land the aircraft at Astana Airport. A new plane brought from Almaty to replace the Astana�Moscow plane was also not allowed by flight safety inspectors to complete its flight "due to technical problems".

KAZAKH MINISTER OF TRADE, INDUSTRY AND ENERGY ON PRIMAKOV�S SACKING.
Mukhtar Abliayzov, Kazakh Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, made a statement at a press conference held in Almaty on 12 May. He said that the decision of Russian President Boris Yeltsin to oust Prime Minister Yevgeniy Primakov was not going to affect either Kazakh economy nor the Kazakh energy supply system. Mr. Abliyazov said that the energy supply systems of the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan were working absolutely separately and were not dependent to each other. He added that Russia remained the main economic partner for Kazakhstan and that the volume of mutual trade between the two neighboring countries had reached $3,214 thousand last year.

REGIONAL SEMINAR ON CASPIAN REGION HELD IN ALMATY.
A two-day regional seminar devoted to the ecological situation around the Caspian area, namely to change of the level of the Caspian Sea, started working in Almaty on 11 May. Experts from the Caspian states � Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan- are discussing the ecological situation in the area, proposing some programs on the preservation of the region's ecological balance.

DRUG TRAFFICKER DETAINED IN PAVLODAR.
RFE/RL correspondents report that a 25-year old lady was detained by the Kazakh police this week at Pavlodar�s railway station, aboard the Novokuznetsk�Qaraghandy train. 30 kilograms of marijuana were found in her belongings. Investigations are underway.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT MET UAE ECONOMY AND TRADE MINISTER.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Astana that an official delegation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) visited the Kazakh capital on 11 May. The UAE delegation led by Economy and Trade Minister Sheykh Fakhmi Bin Sultan al�Qasimi met Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Such officials as the UAE Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Tariq al�Khaydari; the Chairman of Abu Dabi Trade and Industry Chamber, Rakhman al�Massood; the Secretary General of UAE Trade and Industry Chamber, Abdallah Sultan Abdallah; and others were among the members of the UAE delegation. Sheykh Fakhmi Bin Sultan al�Qasimi held a briefing after his meeting with President Nazarbayev. He told journalists that such issues as further economic cooperation between Kazakhstan and UAE, assistance in improving of railroads and air communications, and ways to improve the avoidance of double taxation were all discussed.

KAZAKH FM MADE A STATEMENT ON KAZAH-CHINESE TALKS ON The WATERS OF THE ERTIS AND ILE RIVERS.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev made a statement at a press conference held in Almaty on 11 May, in which he informed journalists that the first stage of Sino�Kazakh negotiations on the waters of the Ertis (Irtsyh) and Ile (Ili) Rivers crossing the Kazakh�Chinese borders had been taken place that day. The next stage in the negotiations will be held in Astana later this year. Qasymzhomart Toqayev told journalists that the talks had been held in a friendly atmosphere. He also mentioned that the waters issue has nothing to do with the demarcation of the Kazakh�Chinese border made earlier last year. According to Mr. Toqayev, statements made recently by Kazakh politician Murat Auezov "might be defined as attempts to get more popularity among the Kazakhstanis on the eve of the Parliamentary elections". Murat Auezov, formerly Kazakh Ambassador to China, harshly criticized the Kazakh government for "shortages in the issue of Kazakh�Chinese relations."

PRO-NAZARBAYEV OTAN PARTY HELD SESSION.
The Otan Party led by the former Kazakh Premier Sergey Tereshchenko, held its first session in Almaty on 11 May. Acting Chairman of the Otan Party, Mr. Tereshchenko said that the number of party members would reach 300,000 by this autumn. The Otan Party was established by politicians supporting Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev right after the presidential elections held in January this year. In almost all state institutions, workers and clerks are being pushed to become party members. RFE/RL correspondents report that six parties decided to merge with the Otan Party. One more minor party called Adilet and United Kazakh car drivers decided to join the Otan Party on 11 May. Marat Ospanov, Chairman of Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber � Mazhlis, participated in the Otan session on 11 May as Vice�Chairman of the party.

BOMB THREATS AT KTK TV CHANNEL AND TRANSPORTS ACADEMY.
An unknown person called Almaty Police department and said that bombs had been installed in buildings of the KTK TV Company and Kazakh Transports and Communications Academy in Almaty May 11. Police checked the premises thoroughly, no bombs were found.

OSCE DELEGATION CRITICIZED KAZAKH ELECTIONS LAW.
Gerard Stodeman, Chairman of the OSCE delegation to Kazakhstan held press conference in Almaty on May 11. Before the press conference, Mr. Stoudman met Marat Ospanov, Chairman of Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber � Mazhlis, and Zaghipa Baliyeva, Chairwoman of the Kazakh State Election Committee. Mr. Stodeman said at the press conference that the Kazakh law on elections adopted by the Parliament recently had no major differences from the Kazakh Presidential Decree on Elections. He highlighted three major "weak points of the law". The first problem, found by OSCE delegation in the Kazakh law on elections was about fees. Every candidate to Kazakh Parliament has to pay about $1,000 to the Kazakh treasury as a fee. In Kazakhstani circumstances this is a very big amount, said Mr. Stodeman, adding that the fee obligation breaks the international principles on equals opportunities for all candidates. Secondly, the Kazakh law on elections bans any candidate brought to trial for any sort of laws from participating in the elections. That, said, Mr. Stodeman also does not correspond OSCE standards. And as to the third weak point, the regulations concerning local elections committees were pointed out. According to the OSCE delegation, members of non�government organizations and boards, as well as representatives of any political party or movement have to be elected by the voters themselves. Currently the local governors appoint the members of the local elections committees.

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