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Kazakh Report: August 3, 1999


3 August 1999

FORMER CHIEF OF THE KAZAKH CUSTOMS COMMITTEE MEETS WITH HUNGER STRIKERS OF ZHER�ANA STAFF.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from the former capital that Ghani Qasymov, the former Chief of the Kazakh Customs Committee, who unsuccessfully contended the January presidential poll, met on 2 August with 17 women of Zher�Ana (Mother Land) staff, who were on a hunger strike in the building of Democracy House of Almaty. That was the first public appearance of Ghani Qasymov after his unsuccessful attempt to become Kazakh President. He was sacked afterwards and is currently unemployed. RFE/RL correspondents report that it is more likely that Mr. Qasymov will participate in the Parliamentary elections scheduled for this September and October.

ORLEU PARTY'S PRESS SERVICE MADE A STATEMENT.
The Press Service of Orleu Party faxed a written clarification to RFE/RL bureau in Almaty saying that the party's leader Seydakhmet Quttyqadam has received a letter from Medeu District's Procuracy last week, in which Mr. Quttyqadam was warned that some of the words uttered by him about five months ago might have been interpreted as "insulting the dignity of the Kazakh President". The Kazakh Criminal Code has a Chapter according to which anyone who publicly insults the President is liable to be put to jail. The Orleu Party's statement says that "no criminal case had been started against Mr. Quttyqadam officially yet, he was just warned".

RADIO-ACTIVE MATERIALS FOUND IN AQTOBE, NORTH WEST KAZAKHSTAN.
According to information provided by correspondents of RFE/RL, a container with radioactive materials coded as 50/192 was detected at a mobile laboratory belonging to Munay Ltd. Joint Stock Company last weekend in Aqtobe City, North Western Kazakhstan. The container is made of uranium and has a 4 millimeter thick cover. The radiation level of the material is reportedly 2200 micro� roentgens per hour. Officers of the Kazakh National Security Committee are investigating the case. It is not clear how the container was brought to the lab and who is the owner of the material.

TWO MONEY FORGERS DETAINED IN ATYRAU, WEST KAZAKHSTAN.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that two money forgers were detained in Atyrau City, Western Kazakhstan on 2 August. The arrested criminals had counterfeit $1,200 cash in their belongings. Police said that the fake money had been made at a very high professional level. It became clear that the forged cash had been brought from Russia's Stavropol region. Investigations are underway.

SIX BANKS OF KAZAKHSTAN MIGHT STOP FUNCTIONING SOON.
Correspondents of RFE/RL quote officials of the Kazakh National Bank as reporting that six banks and financial groups of Kazakhstan might be deprived of their licenses in the nearest future. Banks in Astana, the capital and Oskemen, Eastern Kazakhstan are among those expected to be closed.

AIRPORT OF ALMATY MIGHT HAVE BEEN BURNED DOWN ON PURPOSE?
Correspondents of RFE/RL quote a member of the Kazakh State Commission on Investigations of the fire that occurred at Almaty airport last month as saying that the fire might have been ignited intentionally. According to the source, the fire started not in one place, as had been reported before, but in six sections of the Airport building simultaneously. Firefighters were called almost 30 minutes after the fire began destroying the building. It turned out that the administration of the airport had received a big sum of money as credit at one of the main banks of Almaty and put the building of the airport as a guarantee for the credit. The fire completely destroyed the airport last month. Investigations are still underway.

ZHIRINOVSKII ORGANIZES MEETING IN MOSCOW.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondent in Almaty, after a meeting organized by Russian Liberal Democratic Party led by Vladimir Zhirinovskii in front of the Kazakh embassy in Moscow on July 29 and a retaliatory action organized the next day by Khasen Kozhahmet, leader of Azat movement, in front of Russian embassy in Almaty, the independent NTK TV-station in Almaty interviewed Zhirinovskii by phone. In his interview, Zhirinovskii denied that the Republic of Kazakhstan is an independent state, saying that it is just a Russian colony. The Russian politician also said that Khasen Kozhahmet should be hung in the Red Square.

NAZARBAYEV SIGNS DECREE ON AMNESTY.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree amnestying 13,000 prisoners, mainly those suffering from tuberculosis, and who will be released soon. RFE/RL correspondent quotes Interior Ministry officials saying that originally 26,000 prisoners were going to be released. But the Kazakh Parliament cut the number by half.

Madel Ismailov, Leader of the Workers Movement of Kazakhstan who spent one year in prison for "insulting the President publicly", said he became a witness of 20 deaths from tuberculoses during that year in prison. This is the fourth amnesty in last decade.

HUNGER STRIKE OVER LAND OWNERSHIP CONTINUES.
A hunger strike at Almaty's Democracy House being held in order to force the parliament to abandon the debate currently under way on the draft bill on private ownership of land is continuing, RFE/RL correspondent report from Almaty. The hunger strikers include two ethnic Russians.

KAZAKH LANGUAGE STATISTICS.
According to the latest survey by the Social And Political Research Association of Kazakhstan, more and more non-Kazakhs in Kazakhstan are paying attention to the Kazakh language. RFE/RL correspondents quote data from the survey which says that 9 per cent of ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan are fluent in Kazakh. The survey says that currently 24 per cent of Kazakh citizens of Asian origin and 14 per cent of those of European origin are fluent in Kazakh.

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