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Kazakh Report: June 1, 1999


1 June 1999

AMBASSADOR OF LUXEMBOURG HANDED CREDENTIALS TO KAZAKH STATE SECRETARY.
RFE/RL correspondents quote Press Service of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry as reporting that on May 31, Abish Kekilbayev, State Secretary of Kazakhstan, met Paul Schuler, Ambassador of Luxembourg to Kazakhstan, who presented his credentials. During subsequent talks, the sides discussed democratic reforms in Kazakhstan and mutual cooperation between Kazakhstan and Luxembourg. Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev also met Ambassador Schuler in Astana the same day.

KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER CHAIRED SESSION OF THE KAZAKH STATE COMMITTEE ON DRUGS CONTROL.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev chaired a session held by the Kazakh State Committee on Drugs Control on May 31. The latest developments on drugs control, illegal drugs trade and the ways of counter-measures were reportedly discussed. In the last seven years, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian states have become a transit corridor for drugs smugglers transporting drugs from Afghanistan and other Asian states to Russia and then to Europe.

PENSIONERS OF ASTANA CALL ON LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO REFUSE CELEBRATIONS OF THE CAPITAL'S DAY AND PAY OFF THEIR PENSIONS INSTEAD.
RFE/RL correspondents report from Astana that elderly citizens of Astana, the Kazakh capital, held an action of protest in front of the building of the City's Mayor on May 31. The pensioners hoped to persuade the local authorities not to mark the Capital's Day, scheduled for next week, and to pay off their overdue pensions instead. Meanwhile elderly citizens of the former capital, Almaty, also staged an action of protest the same day. As on the last day of every month, they gathered in front of the Almaty City Mayor's office on May 31 to demand their pensions and social allowances. They also called on local authorities to annul a new law according to which all the pensioners must now pay to use the city transport system.

PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV MEETS ALMATY CITY MAYOR.
RFE/RL correspondents report from the former capital, that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met Almaty Mayor Victor Khrapunov in Almaty on May 31. The two men discussed pensions payments, support of WW2 and Afghanistan war veterans, the construction of the new Opera Theater, the development of tourism in Almaty area, continuation of the subway construction in the city and other matters.

MASS FISH DYING IN ILE RIVER CAUSING RUMORS.
Thousands of fish are dying in Ile (Ili) river which flows from China into Kazakhstan, RFE/RL correspondents report. In the last few days the number of the dead fish in the Ile river has risen drastically. Investigations are underway. Experts hesitate to give any sort of explanations. Some fishermen say that the situation may have been caused by massive chemical contamination of the water on the Chinese side.

TENGE'S RATE TODAY.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents, the Kazakh National Currency, the Tenge started stabilizing following its loss of value late last week. Today's rate was 129 Tenges 30 Tiyins for $1.

KAZAKHSTAN COMMEMORATES VICTIMS OF POLITICAL REPRESSSION.
Formal ceremonies were held in several cities of Kazakhstan on 31 May to commemorate the victims of the 1930s famine and political repression. Such commemorations have become an annual event since Kazakhstan became independent in 1991.

In Astana, City Governot Adilbek Zhaqsybekov attended such a ceremony and visited a memorial to victims of political repression during the Soviet era.

In Almaty region, descendents of victims held a meeting in the village of Zhanalyq near the former capital.

FIRST VILLAGE MAYOR ELECTED IN DIRECT POLL.
The inhabitants of President Nursultan Nazarbaev's native village of Shemolgan went to the polls on 29-30 May to elect a village mayor. Qayrat Baybaqtinov, a 38-year-old businessman, defeated six rival candidates.

It was the first time in Kazakhstan that a local mayor has been directly elected. Until now, all heads of administrative districts have been appointed. Nazarbaev has said several times recently that in future not only local mayors but also regional governors should be elected.

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