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Kazakh Report: June 25, 1999


25 June 1999

PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV PARTICIPATED IN THE CENTRAL ASIAN UNION'S SUMMIT IN BISHKEK.
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev took part in the 24 June summit of Central Asian leaders held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as the summit of Central Asian Economic Union member states, RFE/RL correspondents reported quoting the Kazakh Presidential Press Service. Nazarbaev together with his Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Tajik counterparts Asqar Aqayev, Islam Karimov and Emomali Rakhmonov signed a joint communique on further multilateral economic cooperation between the four Central Asian States. Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine have expressed the intention to participate in the Central Asian Economic Union as observers. RFE/RL correspondents also report that it was decided to hold the next summit of the Union in Dushanbe, Tajikistan next year.

KAZAKH CABINET'S OFFICIAL DELEGATION IS SCHEDULED TO PAY A VISIT TO MOSCOW NEXT WEEK.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents in Astana, an official Kazakh Government delegation led by Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev is scheduled to start a two-day official visit to Moscow on June 28. The delegation will reportedly also include the Kazakh Ministers of Transport and Communication, Trade, Industry and Energy, as well as oil experts and executives. Qasymzhomart Toqayev is scheduled to meet Russian Premier Sergei Stepashin, Deputy Premier Viktor Khristenko, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and other leading officials. The main issues to be discussed will be the Baikonur space complex lease, the joint use of some Soviet-era military test fields in Kazakhstan, joint Caspian oil exploration and other matters.

RESULTS OF MIGRANT OPERATION ANNOUNCED.
Kazakhstan's Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs, Ivan Otto, and the Chief of the Republican Passport Regime Department, Omirbay Musayev, held a press conference in Astana on June 25. They reported that in all about 5,000 illegal immigrants and foreigners with expired visas had been found in Kazakhstan and deported to their native countries as a result of the special operation called MIGRANT which was conducted by Interior Ministry officers last week (14-20 June). Musayev also said that 13 of those illegal immigrants had committed crimes in Kazakhstan, and more than 100 of them had committed different crimes in their native countries. He also noted that many of the deported illegal immigrants were involved in drugs trafficking. The MIGRANT operation was held in all Oblast Centers and large cities.

"NACHNEM S PONEDELNIKA" NEWSPAPER ANNOUNCED ITS CLOSURE.
The Editor-in-Chief of "Nachnem s Ponedelnika" weekly and her deputy held a press conference on June 24 in Almaty at which they announced the paper's closure. The newspaper's account in an Almaty bank was frozen on orders from the Almaty City Justice Department earlier this year. The Chief of Almaty's Metrostroy Joint Stock Company, Marat Oqshibayev, demanded the newspaper pay him 50 million Tenges as compensation for "moral damage" allegedly caused by articles the newspaper published this year. The newspaper's editors said that such actions could be defined as an "attack on the free press".

Meanwhile a journalist was reportedly beaten in Almaty on June 23. Yevgenii Kosenko, who works for recently opened "Vremya" newspaper, was heavily beaten by unknown persons outside his house. Kosenko has been covering problems of private gasoline stations in Almaty.

LOST CONTAINER WITH RADIOACTIVE STUFF STILL NOT FOUND.
A container containing cobalt and cesium stolen from the territory of Almaty Energy Research Institute has not been found yet. It was reported officially that the container was made of stainless steel and holds 3000 liters of liquid. The volume of cobalt and cesium lost with the container was not reported. The theft was reported on 24 June.

ALMATY MAYOR MET ELDERLY CITIZENS OF THE FORMER CAPITAL.
The Mayor of Almaty, Victor Khrapunov, held a meeting with elderly citizens of the city on June 24. Representatives of pensioners, World War II veterans and other elderly residents of the former capital complained that their situation had got worse starting June 1, when many privileges given to elderly citizens, cripples and war veterans had been annulled by the Kazakh government. Mr. Khrapunov promised the pensioners that the city authorities will try to allocate some funds forveterans' needs.

MEDICAL PERSONNEL OF QALQAMAN HOSPITAL ON STRIKE.
250 employees of hospital No.7 in the town of Qalqaman (Almaty Oblast) started a protest action on June 25. They are demanding the reversal of a decision by the Almaty Health Protection Department to cut the hospital's staff.

PETROLEUM GETS MORE EXPENSIVE IN OIL RICH AREAS OF KAZAKHSTAN...
Gasoline prices are rising even in Kazakhstan's oil-rich Atyrau and Aqtau regions. The oil refinery in Atyrau stopped functioning in the spring of 1999 after Pavlodar oil refinery in North Kazakhstan had also ceased operations. The cheapest petroleum marked as A76 in the area costs 35 Tenges per 1 liter. Just one month ago that sort of gasoline used to cost 14-15 Tenges per liter. ($1 equals 132.5 Tenges currently.)

... AND IN ALMATY TOO.
Gasoline prices in Almaty rose by 7-8 Tenges on June 23. The cheapest gasoline marked as A80 now costs 30 Tenges per liter, compared with the previous price of between 22-23 Tenges per liter.

KAZAKH GOVERNMENT RECEIVES CONFIDENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Kazakhstan's Cabinet headed by Nurlan Balghymbayev survived a vote of no confidence in both chambers of parliament on 24 June. As a result, both the Parliament and the Cabinet will remain in office. The proposed 1999 state budget cuts put forward by the Kazakh government were adopted automatically after it became clear that neither the Mazhilis nor the Senate mustered the required two-thirds of all votes to carry a vote of no-confidence. Balghymbayev told journalists right after the vote that he had been certain of his victory beforehand, and that the Parliament's popularity had fallen "since it failed to accomplish the issue it had raised."

LEADER OF CIVIC PARTY DISTRIBUTES MEMBERSHIP CARDS IN PARLIAMENT.
Just after the results of the 24 June parliament confidence vote was announced, Azat Peruashev, the Chief of the Civic Party's Central Committee, distributed six party membership cards among the members of the Kazakh Parliament. It turned out that one member of the Parliament's Upper House (Senate), and five members of its Lower House (Mazhilis) had become members of the Civic Party. Peruashev told RFE/RL correspondents that in all his party has more than 50,000 members and that number is expected to increase to 100,000 by the Parliamentary elections scheduled for this fall. He also confirmed that his party would participate in the elections. The Civic Party is known as one of the numerous pro-government parties in Kazakhstan.

ETHNIC RUSSIANS DEMAND CULTURAL AUTONOMY.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents from Almaty, organizations uniting ethnic Russians and Slavs in Kazakhstan sent a letter to President Nursultan Nazarbayev on June 23. In the letter, ethnic Russians and members of the Russian- speaking population of Kazakhstan ask the President to take into consideration the fact that Kazakhstan has committed itself to union with Russia and Belarus. Yurii Bunakov, one of the leaders of the ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan, told journalists on 23 June that Kazakh requiring the mass media to issue 50 per cent of its output in the state language, which is Kazakh, violate the rights of the country's Russian population.

He also said that the Union of all Slavic organizations and movements, including those of the Russian Cossacks, should be registered with the Kazakh Justice Ministry as soon as possible. Bunakov warned that the activists and leaders of the Union would stage actions of protest in the Kazakh Presidential Residence if the organization is not registered. He also said that the Union of Slavs in Kazakhstan wants to propose its own candidates for the Parliamentary elections due this fall. Bunakov also called for the opening of more Russian Universities and gymnasiums in all the regions and cities of Kazakhstan, and for Russian Cossack units to guard the Kazakh-Chinese border.

CONTAINER WITH DANGEROUS SUBSTANCE DISAPPEARED FROM THE ATOMIC ENERGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE'S TERRITORY.
A container containing anti-radioactive cobalt and cesium was reported stolen from territory of the Kazakh Atomic Energy Institute in Almaty. Experts say that the substance within the container may damage the environment and cause contamination. Investigations are underway. Officers of the Interior Affairs Ministry and National Security Committee are on the spot trying to trace the lost container.

AZAMAT PARTY VICE-CHAIRMAN MURAT AUEZOV CRITICIZED THE ALMATY OBLAST LEADERSHIP'S PROPOSAL TO BROADEN GOLD COLLECTING CAMPAIGN.
The Ile, Koksu, Rayimbek and some other regions of Almaty oblast have started collecting gold from local citizens to contribute to the Kazakh State treasury. Almaty Oblast Governor Zamanbek Nurqadilov appealed to all citizens to follow the example of the Almaty Oblast this week. AZAMAT party deputy chairman Murat Auezov harshly criticized that proposal on June 23, saying that the campaign is "an attempt to rip off the robbed population." In all, Almaty Oblast managed to collect 7,000 items of gold jewellery worth 12 million Tenges.

SEISMOLOGISTS PREDICT EARTHQUAKE IN ALMATY BY 2003.
Almaty City's Seismologic Center has predicted that a strong earthquake might take place in Almaty area by 2003. Asqar Ospanov, a top official of the Center, told journalists on June 23 that the earthquake would be very strong and its center would be in a place between the towns of Turgen and Shelek in Almaty Oblast. Meanwhile experts of the Republican Seismologic Complex in Kurchatov town say that such an earthquake might occur only in 400-500 years.

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT TO VOTE FOR CONFIDENCE TO THE CABINET TOMORROW.
On June 23, the Chairman of the Kazakh Parliament's Mazhilis (Lower Chamber), Marat Ospanov, announced that a joint session of both Chambers (Senate and Mazhilis) would take place the following day to debate confidence in the cabinet. The parliament had refused on 21 June to approve the Cabinet's proposed cuts in the 1999 state budget, after which Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbayev demanded a vote of confidence in his Cabinet. If the Kazakh Parliament votes no confidence in the Kazakh government, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has the right to dismiss either the government or parliament.

KAZAKH GOVERNMENT ANNULS ITS DECREE LIMITING RUSSIAN FOOD IMPORTS.
The press service of the Kazakh Trade, Energy and Industry Ministry reported on 23 June that the Kazakh government's decree on Russian food imports adopted on May 24 has been rescinded, effective next month. The limitations on imports of food from Russia was defined as a "temporary measure." It was also mentioned in the Ministry's press release that during the short period that the decree was in force, Kazakhstan' s local producers of meat and chicken increased the volume of their output by 10.2 percent, of margarine by 12.3 percent, and of butter by 60.8 percent, in comparison with the same period last year.

STRIKERS OF SHYMKENT PHOSPHORUS PRODUCING PLANT WARN THEY WILL START MARCH OF PROTEST TO ASTANA.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty, hunger strikers at the Phosphorus Producing Plant in Shymkent in South Kazakhstan warned the local administration that they will start a march of protest from Shymkent to Astana if their overdue salaries for the last three years are not fully paid off within one week. The workers have been hunger-striking for one and a half months now. The Kazakh Government declared the Facility bankrupt and made it clear that the plant will be sold through tender. The workers fear that if the plant is sold, the debt to the workers, which is about 450 million Tenges ($1 equals 132 Tenges currently) may never be paid. Some of the hunger strikers have threatened to commit self-immolation if their wages are not paid.

CONFERENCE ON INVESTMENTS TO THE KAZAKH CAPITAL STARTS IN LONDON.
An international conference called ASTANA-INVEST opened in the British capital on 22 June, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry announced. Foreign Minister and Vice Premier Qasymzhomart Toqayev, other leading Kazakh officials and leaders of international companies working in Kazakhstan are expected to speak at the conference, which will focus on investment opportunities in the new capital, Astana.

MINOR AMENDMENTS TO THE KAZAKH LAW ON ELECTION APPROVED BY THE KAZAKH PARLIAMENT.
According to reports by RFE/RL correspondents from Astana, on 21 June the Kazakh Parliament approved some amendments to the Kazakh law on elections. Under those amendments, the fees for presidential and parliamentary candidates were drastically reduced. Presidential candidates had to pay about $30 thousand to the Kazakh Elections Commission before. The obligatory fee for parliamentary candidates was cut from about $3,000 to 65,000 Tenges ($1 equals 140 Tenges currently). Well known Kazakh politician Dos Koshim told RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty that the adoption of the amendments was one of the main victories of the Kazakh intellectuals and opposition. But he added that even now the fee is too high, since 65,000 Tenges is a sum he personally could earn in one year even if his family did not eat and pay everyday expenses. A second amendment eliminated the ban on participation in elections for persons who have received legal reprimands.

AKEZHAN KAZHEGELDIN WANTS GUARANTEES OF HIS SAFETY.
Vitalii Voronov, the lawyer of former Kazakh Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin, who now heads the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan, made an official statement saying that his client needs guarantees of his safety and security before returning to Kazakhstan. Kazhegeldin has been officially summoned to the Almaty Justice Department and Tax Police for interrogation several times, most recently on June 23. He is charged with tax evasion and illegally acquiring real estate in Belgium.

POKOLENIYE MOVEMENT CALLS TO CONTRIBUTE PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS TO STATE TREASURY INSTEAD GOLD.
POKOLENIYE Movement leader Irina Savostina held a press conference in Almaty on June 20 at which she called on all elderly citizens of the former capital to contribute unused privatization vouchers and checks to the Kazakh state treasury instead of gold. Almaty Oblast governor Zamanbek Nurqadilov contributed half a kilogram of pure gold to the Kazakh state treasury and appealed to the oblast's citizens and the whole country to continue the campaign called ALTYN QORGHA ALTYN QOS (Gold Contribution to the State Golden Treasury) launched by the oblast's Qarasay Region.

STATE COMMITTEE ON MONOPOLY REGULATION AND COMPETITION STARTED INVESTIGATING SITUATION AT KAZAKH OIL REFINERIES.
Kazakhstan's State Committee on Monopoly Regulation and Competition started investigations at all Kazakhstan's main oil refineries on 21 June to determine the reasons for the sharp increase in petroleum prices on the Kazakh market. Inflation and the stop of Pavlodar oil refinery are believed to be the main cause of the price rises. The Russian oil industry supplies 38 per cent of all the petroleum consumed in Kazakhstan, while the share of Russian petroleum used in the northern oblasts of Kazakhstan is estimated at about 60 per cent.

FIVE ETHNIC UYGHURS FROM CHINA RELEASED FROM KAZAKH NATIONAL SECURITY JAIL.
The leader of the ethnic Uyghurs living in Almaty Oblast, Yusufbek Mukhlisi told RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty that five ethnic Uyghurs accused of illegally crossing the Sino-Kazakh border were released from the Kazakh National Security jail last weekend. The five, who are citizens of China, will try to get political asylum in some other countries, possibly in Turkey and Canada. Mr. Mukhlisi also said that the release of the five Uyghurs was the result of activities by international Human Rights organizations and ethnic Uyghurs in Kazakhstan, also expressing his gratitude to RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty and Astana.

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