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Kazakh Report: July 9, 1999


9 July 1999

KAZAKH STATE COMMISSION CONTINUES INVESTIGATING THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE RUSSIAN PROTON ROCKET EXPLOSION.
Investigations around the explosion of the Russian PROTON rocket over Central Kazakhstan on 5 July are underway. A special State Commission led by the Kazakh Presidential Aide, Cosmonaut Tokhtar Aubakirov and Kazakh Ecology and Bio-resources Minister Serikbek Daukeyev revealed the following facts. The parts of the blasted rocket were dispersed all over the Central Kazakhstan Oblast. At least 5000 square meters of the Kazakh soil were contaminated by hepthil liquid, known as a very dangerous substance. RFE/RL correspondents quote Kazakh experts as reporting that in 1986 hepthil liquid leaked from a similar exploded Soviet rocket and killed about one million Kazakh antelopes (sayghaqs). One of the rocket's parts fell in a lake not far from Karbyshevka village. Local citizens were officially banned from using the lake's water. Ways of evacuating the local population are under discussion. Some parts of the blasted rocket caused a fire, which reportedly destroyed pastures for local sheep and cattle. Kazakh Vice Premier Alexander Pavlov is scheduled to hold a press conference on the aftermath of the rocket explosion on July 9.

In the former capital, Almaty, several political movements and parties staged a picket in front of the Russian Embassy on 8 July, demanding "to stop any sort of rocket launches from the Kazakh soil."

PREPARATIONS FOR THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS UNDERWAY.
Several women's organizations and movements held a special session on 8 July, where a new political block called Women Election Block was established. The newly established block intends to call Kazakhstan's population to vote for women mainly in the Parliamentary elections scheduled for September 17 and October 10 this year. They say that at least half of the new Parliament deputies should be women.

WORKERS OF POWER STATION IN EKIBASTUZ, PAVLODAR OBLAST ON HUNGER STRIKE.
According to RFE/RL correspondents, 68 workers of Power Station in Ekibastuz City, Pavlodar Oblast, North Kazakhstan, continue their hunger-strike they started about a week ago. Some of the hunger-strikers were hospitalized due to their grave condition. Their main demand is for all of their overdue salaries for the last two years (about 125 million Tenges � $1 equals 134 Tenges) to be paid off.

LARGE AMOUNT OF PERFUME SMUGGLED TO ALMATY FROM MOSCOW IMPOUNDED.
Sixty tons of Russian perfume brought illegally from Moscow by Moscow � Almaty train were impounded by Almaty Tax Police Department on July 6. It is not clear who has sent the smuggled goods from Moscow. Also nobody met the train car with illegally brought perfume at Almaty Rail station. Investigations are underway.

UNDERGROUND MINERAL WATER PRODUCING PLANT DETECTED IN SHEMOLGHAN TOWN OF ALMATY OBLAST.
Almaty Oblast�s Police Department found an illegal underground mineral water producing plant in Shemolghan Town on July 8. The facility has been producing faked SARY�AGHASH mineral water, using just regular tap water. High technology equipment has been used by the water fakers reportedly. RFE/RL correspondents also report that in one of the illegal plant's shops, hundreds of sacks with flour were found. It turned out that the plant workers also have been selling local flour for higher prices in sacks with inscriptions saying that the flour was made in Aqmola Oblast. Flour from Aqmola Oblast is known as the best flour produced in Kazakhstan. Investigations are underway.

DATES OF THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS ANNOUNCED.
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev has issued a decree dated 7 July scheduling elections to the Kazakh Parliament's Upper Chamber � Senate on September 17, and elections to the Lower Chamber � Mazhilis on October 10 this year, RFE/RL correspondents is Astana reported quoting the presidential press service. Central Electoral Commission chairwoman Zaghipa Baliyeva issued a Decree the same day according to which elections to the local Maslikhats � Councils, will be organized on October 10 this year. Eric Collins, who is the OSCE's representative in Almaty, told RFE/RL correspondents on 8 July that the idea to hold the Parliamentary elections in September and October had not surprised him, adding that it was a good time for holding the polls from technical standpoint and taking the weather conditions into account. Mr. Collins said he had no answer to the question about the mechanism of Presidential Decree's having been signed. The question was about the fact that President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed such an important document while spending his short-term vacation in Turkey. Independent politician Dos Koshim told RFE/RL correspondents that holding the Parliamentary elections earlier in September meant another obstacle for opposition movements and parties to register to participate in the poll.

PRESIDENT NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV MET HIS TURKISH COUNTERPART SULEYMAN DEMIREL IN TURKEY.
The Kazakh Presidential Press Service also informed RFE/RL correspondents in Astana that President Nursultan Nazarbayev held a working meeting with the Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on July 6, President Nazarbayev's birthday. The two men discussed future perspectives for mutual, bilateral cooperation in a wide range of spheres. Nazarbaev and Demirel also discussed a number of regional and international matters, including the Caspian oil transportation, cultural and academic exchange programs, investments, trade, and so on. President Nazarbaev invited Demirel to visit Kazakhstan this fall.

KAZAKH PARLIAMENT TO START DICUSSING DRAFT LAWS ON THE STATUS OF COURTS AND JUDGES THIS WEEK.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that on July 10 the Kazakh Parliament will start discussing new laws on the status of Republican Courts and Judges. It expected that drastic reforms in the Court system will be introduced. A two-chamber system will replace the former Soviet system of courts in Kazakhstan.

KAZAKHSTAN TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS RUSSIA'S OPERATIONS IN BAIKONUR.
Correspondents of RFE/RL in Astana quote the Kazakh Foreign Ministry and Press Service of the Cabinet as reporting that on July 5, a Russian space rocket Proton�M launched from the Baykonur Space Research Complex in Central Kazakhstan, exploded in mid-air at 8:32 PM local time. The remnants of the rocket were reportedly dispersed around the Qaraghandy Oblast. The main section of the rocket, weighing about 200 kilograms and three meters in diameter, fell in the yard of a private house in the village of Karbyshevka, Qarqaraly Region of Qaraghandy Oblast. Nobody was hurt reportedly. But the local eco-system was damaged by gas and liquid leaked from the rocket's remnants.

The Kazakh government held a special session on the accident and made an official statement, saying that a special commission has been established in order to investigate the case. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry sent a special note to the Russian Foreign Ministry informing the latter that any operations of Russian space researchers on Kazakh soil, namely Baykonur Complex, were suspended for the time being until all the investigations on the July 6 accident are completed. Russia has to pay Kazakhstan about $500 million annually (starting 1994) for lease of the Baykonur. Not a single penny has been paid yet.

RUSSIAN DELEGATION VISITED ALMATY THIS WEEK.
Delegation of Russia's top military officials visited Kazakhstan�s former capital on July 5�6. Russian Presidential special aide, former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev led the delegation, which visited a former Soviet�era weaponry producing plant in Almaty City. The facility was used to produce torpedoes for the Soviet Navy. The Russian delegation expressed its interest to using the plant in Almaty for its needs. Special agreements and contracts on the matter are reportedly scheduled to be signed this fall.

ETHNIC UYGHUR FROM CHINA DETAINED FOR ILLEGAL PISTOL CARRYING.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty, an ethnic Uyghur, citizen of China, who came to Kazakhstan as a tourist from Eastern Turkistan (Xin Jiang), was arrested by Almaty Police officers for having a Makarov pistol in his possession this week. Investigations are underway.

OPPOSITION MOVEMENTS AND PARTIES OF KAZAKHSTAN UNITED BY PRE-ELECTION COORDINATING STAFF.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from Almaty that the main opposition parties, namely Republican People's Party, Communist Party, Pokoleniye, as well as some trade union organizations have announced that they have aligned in a Pre-election Coordinating Staff, or Block. Some political movements in regions expressed their readiness to support the newly established political alliance. A well- known veteran of the Kazakh diplomacy, politician Mikhail Esenaliyev, will reportedly lead the block.

HUNGER STRIKERS OF SHYMKENT BANNED FROM HOLDING PROTEST MARCH.
Hundreds of the former workers of the Phosphorus producing plant in Shymkent city continue their strike, demanding their overdue salaries for the last three years to be paid off. The stand-off between the workers and local administration has already lasted for two months already. The hungers strikers intended to start a march of protest in order to reach Astana � the capital, by foot, on July 3, reportedly. RFE/RL correspondents say that local police stopped the marchers on the outskirts of Shymkent city and blocked their way to the capital.

TANTALUM PRODUCTION RIGHT RETURNED TO ULBA METALLURGIC PLANT IN OSKEMEN, EAST KAZAKHSTAN.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from Oskemen, East Kazakhstan, that the tantalum production sector will revert to being controlled by the local Ulba Metallurgic plant starting August. The local tantalum production sector had been given to a Swiss company called Finconcord last year. The Swiss company failed to meet its obligations and had to leave Kazakhstan earlier this year. Some local officials who assisted Finconcord in taking over the tantalum production facilities to concession are behind bars currently. They are accused of bribery and financial mishandling. Investigations are still underway.

LEADER OF ORLEU PARTY WARNED BY ALMATY PROCURACY.
Orleu party leader Seydakhmet Quttyqadam has been warned by Medeu District Procuracy of Almaty City that he "had broken some regulations and laws of Kazakhstan recently." It was said in the letter sent to Mr. Quttyqadam by the Procuracy that he publicly "slandered the Kazakh government and hurt the dignity of the Kazakh President during his last visit to Taraz City, South Kazakhstan." The Kazakh Criminal Code includes a Chapter according to which any person who publicly slanders the Kazakh President can be put in jail. Kazakhstan Workers Movement leader Madel Ismailov has been accused of such a kind of "crime" and spent one year in the Pavlodar labor camp. He was released in January this year after having fully served his term in the prison.

CENTRAL MOSQUE IN THE FORMER KAZAKH CAPITAL STARTED FUNCTIONING.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from Almaty that the new Central Cathedral Mosque has started working in the former capital of Kazakhstan. The mosque has been under construction for more than seven years. Mainly Islamic organizations of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey and some other Islamic states financially assisted local Muslims to raise the building of the new mosque. President Nursultan Nazarbaev did not participate in the ceremony of the mosque's opening held on July 5, although he had been expected to take part. Representatives of foreign Embassies in Kazakhstan, as well as ethnic Kazakhs from Turkey, China, Central Asian states and Russia attended the ceremony reportedly. The new mosque can accomodate 10,000 worshippers.

LOCUSTS STARTED DESTROYING WHEAT FIELDS IN ALMATY OBLAST TOO.
It has been reported that locust invasions in Pavlodar, East Kazakhstan and South Kazakhstan Oblasts created a lot of problems for local farmers. RFE/RL correspondents quote Almaty Oblast's Extraordinary Situations Committee as reporting that starting July 3, the locust problem is being encountered by farmers in Almaty Oblast too. According to experts of Almaty Extraordinary Situations Committee, the problem has been caused by the lack of special anti-insect chemicals used for the wheat fields.

SOME LEADERS OF ALASH PARTY CALL FOR POLITICAL ACTIVITIES DURING THE PARTY LEADER'S ABSENCE.
One of the leaders of Alash Party (formerly Azat, then Republican Party of Kazakhstan) Zhaqsybay Bazylbayev, who had tried to take part in the presidential elections earlier this January as a presidential candidate, held a press conference on July 5 in Almaty. Mr. Bazylbayev called other members of the Party to start a political campaign for the creation of a Coalition government. He also said that the Parliamentary elections scheduled for this fall should be moved to next year. Other members of the party harshly criticized Mr. Bazylbayev, saying that it would never do to call for any sort of political activities during the absence of the party's leader, Savetqazy Aqatay. Mr. Aqatay is currently spending his vacation in Turkey. Mr. Aqatay has been criticized by some intellectuals and opposition leaders for having decided to change the name of his political party. They say that the name of Alash should not be repeated or given to any political party or group of Kazakhstan. The party called Alash�Orda was the first political organization of Kazakh intellectuals who created the first government of the Kazakh autonomy in the beginning of this century. All of them were oppressed and shot by Stalin's regime in the1930s.

A PERSON OPENED GUNFIRE IN ALMATY LAST SUNDAY.
Sergazy Beysenbayev, a citizen of Semey (Semipalatinsk) area of Kazakhstan, opened a gunfire in the center of Almaty City, not far from the former capital's Central Green Market on July 4. One policeman was shot to death and three passers�by were hospitalized with injuries. It turned out that Beysenbayev was a jobless person, temporarily living in Almaty. Investigations are underway.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY STARTED WORKING IN ALMATY ON 5 JULY.
According to RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty, an international conference on the ecological situation in Kazakhstan started working in the former capital on July 5. Such issues as environmental problems in the Caspian sea and Aral sea areas, as well as projects on the construction of a canal connecting the two seas, are being discussed at the conference.

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