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Kazakh Report: August 6, 1999


6 August 1999

"RESPUBLIKA" BLOC HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE.
At a press conference in Almaty on August 5, representatives of the "Respublika" political block demanded that the Kazakh government change the country's law on elections before the Parliamentary polls scheduled for September 17 to the Senate Upper House) and October 10 to the Mazhilis (Lower House). The "Respublika" Block unites the People's Republican Party, the Orleu Party, the Communist Party, the Workers' Movement, the Association of Actors, and various organizations representing ethnic Russians, Slavs and Russian Cossacks. The leaders of those parties and movements said that they have sent an open letter to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, demanding that the elections to the Senate be postponed from September to December. The leaders of the opposition parties also want their representatives to be included in the Kazakh Election Commissions and Committees.

ZHER-ANA STAFF MEMBERS END HUNGER STRIKE.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from Almaty that women members of Zher�Ana (Motherland) ended their 20-day long hunger strike on August 6. Their main demand was to remove the question of land privatization from the agenda of the Parliament. The Draft Law on Land Ownership was been discussed in Parliament last month and then postponed indefinitely. The leader of the striking women, Roza Isa, told RFE/RL correspondents that they will resume their hunger strike if the issue of private land ownership is again raised in Parliament.

HEAVY STORMS DAMAGE INFRASTRUCTURE OF ZHEZQAZGHAN AND SATPAYEV TOWNS.
Storms on August 4 and 5 reportedly caused heavy damage to infrastructure in the towns of Zheqazghan and Satpayev in Central Kazakhstan, destroying power and telephone lines. No casualties are reported.

Correspondents of RFE/RL report that unusually hot weather is affecting almost all the territory of Kazakhstan, especially the Western and South Western areas of the country. In Qyzyl�Orda and Atyrau Oblasts a drinking water shortage is reported. The temperature in the area is 43 - 45 Degrees (Celsius).

Almaty Mayor Victor Khrapunov held a session of the City's Administration on August 5 to assess the implementation of measures to counter the consequences of last month's flooding in the former capital. Mr. Khrapunov said that in all, damage to the Medeu Area infrastructure could be estimated at 400 Million Tenges ($1 equals 132 Tenges currently). About 100 private houses in the area were completely destroyed, and more than 800 people became homeless.

UNKNOWN CRIMINALS ASSASSINATED CHIEF OF A PRIVATE FIRM IN NORTH KAZAKHSTAN.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that the Chief of Peschannaya Joint Stock Company of Pavlodar City, North Kazakhstan was shot dead this week. Investigations are underway. The preliminary reports say that the killers used a Makarov pistol.

Meanwhile another criminal, who took part in the murder at Almaty's World Languages University on July 27, was detained by Almaty Police Department on 5 August. The arrested person was not the killer, but he drove the car in which the killer managed to escape from the spot after he had shot three persons, one of them fatally, in the university building. Police representatives say that the name of the murderer is known already.

DETAINED KYRGYZ MUSLIMS ARE NOT RELEASED YET.
23 citizens of Kyrgyzstan detained by the Kazakh National Security forces last month have not been released yet. The Kyrgyz citizens, together with citizens of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (78 people in all), were arrested at a resort in Kazakhstan's Zhambyl Oblast, on suspicion of belonging to an Islamic extremist sect. It turned out that they were followers of one of the traditional Islamic schools of Turkey, which has nothing to do with extremism. Kyrgyz authorities keep trying to persuade the officials of Kazakhstan that the detained Kyrgyz nationals should be released.

TWO MORE COUNTERFEIT MONEY TRADERS ARRESTED IN ALMATY.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents, two persons trying to sell $43,000 in counterfeit notes were detained in the former capital of Kazakhstan on August 5. The forged dollars had been printed by very sophisticated technology. Investigations are underway. In recent years the amount of counterfeit dollars has abruptly increased in Kazakhstan. The fake dollars are reportedly being brought from China, Iran, Pakistan and Russia.

OTAN PARTY PROPOSED 37 CANDIDATES TO ALMATY MASLIKHAT.
The pro-presidential OTAN party has reportedly proposed 37 representatives to the Almaty City Maslikhat (Council). Elections to the local maslikhats will start in October. The only other political party to propose candidates for the city council elections is the pro-presidential Civil Party of Kazakhstan, which has named six candidates. No other movements or parties have tried to register candidates yet.

KAZAKH MINISTRY STOPS FINANCING 23 STATE PERIODICALS.
Correspondents of RFE/RL reported from Almaty on 5 August that Kazakh Minister of Information and Social Concord Altynbek Sarsenbayev has issued a Decre withdrawing government funding for 23 state-run newspapers and magazines. The local mass media kept silent about the decree, and the population learned of it only from the Russian-language "Komosomolskaya Pravda." A journalist with the paper "Ulan," Qalbay Adil, confirmed the information, telling RFE/RL correspondents on 5 August that starting last Monday all employees of state-run periodicals were advised to take a one month vacation without pay. During that the periodicals are supposed to find new sources of financial support. Only three newspapers continue being financed by the state budget: "Egemen Qazaqstan," "Kazakhstanskaya Pravda" and "Zhas Alash."

UZBEK EMBASSY HELD PRESS CONFERENCE IN ALMATY.
According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty, representatives of the Uzbek Embassy in Kazakhstan held a press conference in the National Press Club of the former Kazakh capital this week, at which they provided journalists with update information about the six bomb blasts in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent in February.

It was reported at the press conference that preparations for the terrorist action began two years prior to the act. "The main goal of the attack was to murder Uzbek President Islam Karimov and establish an Islamic State in Uzbekistan", said the Uzbek Embassy officials. They also said that 20 terrorists had been detained and brought to trial, of whom six have been sentenced to death.

According to the Uzbek Embassy in Kazakhstan, the organizers of the terrorist attack, Mohammed Salikh and Takhir Yuldash, managed to escape to Turkey, and some of the participants in the terrorist attack were detained on the Kazakh territory. Meanwhile, Mohammed Salikh told international journalists in Turkey that he had nothing to do with the terrorist attack against Islam Karimov.

ZHETYSU COSSACKS WARN OF MASS EXODUS.
Leaders of Zhetysu (Semirechiye) Cossacks held a press conference in Almaty on 4 August, at which they warned that all 140,000 Zhetysu Cossacks may start seeking political asylum in some other country if the Kazakh authorities "continue to oppress their traditions and culture." The Russian Cossacks of Kazakhstan have been trying since early 1990s to persuade Kazakhstan's officials to let them wear military uniforms and weapons. Kazakh laws prohibit the activities of any military units other than regular Kazakh Army forces on Kazakh territory.

Russian Cossacks used to be the main force of the Russian Tsar in its colonization policy in Central Asia in the18th and 19th centuries. Vladimir Ovsiyannikov, leader of the Zhetysu Cossacks, told journalists that the Cossacks have held special sessions and organized an Emigration Committee. "We shall move to Trans�Dniestr Republic or Canada," said Mr. Ovsiyannikov, adding that Canada had welcomed Russian Cossacks moved from China in the beginning of the century.

CITIZENS OF THE FORMER CAPITAL ON PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
The Almaty Sociologists Association conducted an opinion poll this week, which indicated that the most popular politicians in the former capital are Irina Savostina, leader of the Pokoleniye (Generation) Movement, uniting mainly elderly people of Almaty, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, First Secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party, Mels Eleusizov, leader of Tabighat (Nature) Party of Greens, and Madel Ismailov, Chairman of the Workers Movement.

Meanwhile, Yevgeniy Zhovtis, head of the Kazakh�American Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law, and Vitaliy Voronov of the Kazakh People's Republican Party were named as the least popular politicians. 40 percent of respondents said they do not believe that the Parliamentary elections scheduled for this September and October will bring some positive changes. Eight percent of respondents say that there is a hope that things will get better after the elections. Others did not answer the question or said they did not care.

PROBLEMS OF SUNDAY SCHOOLS TO BE DISCUSSED AT THE FIRST TEACHERS CONGRESS ON AUGUST 27.
The Congress Hall of Astana is going to host the first Teachers Congress on August 27. Mainly problems faced by the so-called Sunday schools and regular schools of the Kazakh capital are going to be discussed. About 500 children in the Kazakh capital attend the Sunday schools of ethnic Koreans, Jews, Ukrainians, Tatar�Bashkirs, Germans, Poles and Steppe Cossacks. All the ethnic Sunday schools, except that of the Germans, are being financed by the city treasury. Only two schools in Kazakh are operating in the Kazakh capital currently. Chechen�Ingush and Chinese schools are scheduled to be opened in the capital in the nearest future.

TWO CANDIDATES REGISTERED AS CANDIDATES TO SENATE AND MAZHILIS.
Correspondents of RFE/RL reported from Astana on 4 August that the former Mayor of Astana City, Amanzhol Bolekbayev, registered at the Central Elections Commission this week as a candidate to the Upper House of the Kazakh Parliament - Senate. The Senate election is scheduled for September 17. One more resident of Astana, well known TV journalist Dukesh Bayimbetov, is registered as a candidate to Mazhilis � the Lower House of the Parliament. The election to the Lower House will take place on October 10. The deadline for the Senate candidates to register is August 27 and that for the Mazhilis candidates - September 9. But until now, it is not absolutely clear either what and how many parties or independent politicians will take part in the elections.

KAZAKH PREMIER CHAIRS SESSION.
At a 3 August session held by several Kazakh Ministries and chaired by Kazakh Premier Nurlan Balghymbayev, the issue of the state support for domestic producers was discussed. It was reported at the session that the Kazakh government is drafting several state programs on support of the local industrial facilities for the second part of 1999 and 2000. Such sectors of the national industry as machine building, production of chemical substances, agriculture were reportedly included in the state programs. The Kazakh government also discussed state programs on health protection, namely assistance to hepatitis and tuberculosis patients, and education.

A PENSIONER COMMITTED SUICIDE IN ORAL CITY.
Correspondents of RFE/RL reported on 4 August that a pensioner, Mr. Sudakov, died after jumping out of a fifth-floor window in the Oral (Uralsk) City's administration building in North Western Kazakhstan on August 3. Sudakov's suicide was an action of protest, through which he wanted to persuade the local administration to pay off all overdue pensions to 47, 000 local elderly citizens. The local administration fears that Mr. Sudakov's funeral procession, in which hundreds of local pensioners plan to take part, may turn into a mass action of protest.

AIR KAZAKHSTAN'S ADMINISTRATION AGREED TO MEET HUNGER STRIKERS' DEMANDS.
The administration of Air Kazakhstan Company met with veterans and former employees of the company on August 3, after former employees started a hunger strike in order to make the company pay off all the overdue social allowances. Air Kazakhstan's leadership promised to meet all the demands of the hunger strikers and they stopped their action the same day, warning though that the action would start again if those promises were not fulfilled.

KAPUSTIN YAR MILITARY TEST FIELD'S KAZAKH SIDE ANNOUNCED CLOSED STARTING AUGUST 3.
The well known former Soviet military test field called Kapustin Yar comprises parts of Russia and Kazakhstan, the historic territory of the Kazakh Bokey�Khan Horde situated in the Edil (Volga) and Oral (Ural) rivers area. Starting August 3, the Kazakh side of the military tests field stopped functioning following a decision of the Kazakh government to announce the territory an ecological disaster area. Since 1947, forty seven underground and ground nuclear explosions have been conducted in the region. More than 2000 missile blasts took place there. In recent years 512 ballistic missiles coded as SS were tested on the Kazakh side of the field. Debris from the missiles is still falling on the region, as military tests are continuing on the Russian side of the testing ground.

NATURAL GAS LEAKAGE CAUSED BLAST IN TALDY-QORGHAN.
A powerful explosion destroyed several apartments of an apartment block in Taldy�Qorghan City, Almaty Oblast, South East Kazakhstan on August 2, but no one was injured. The blast was reportedly caused by a natural gas leakage in one of the apartments. On the eve of a working visit by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Taldy�Qorghan on August 2, a local company called Zhetysu Gaz started natural gas supply to the apartments of the city. Local citizens who had been living without natural gas for several weeks were not warned that the natural gas supply would resume. In one of the apartments the gas tap was left switched on, and the apartment was eventually filled with the natural gas.

KAZAKHSTAN'S EDUCATION SECTOR FACING HUGE PROBLEMS.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that top officials of the Kazakh Education, Health Protection and Culture Ministry held a press conference at National Press Club of Almaty on August 3. It was reported at the press conference that the Kazakh education sector is facing big problems. Namely, the quality of the text books is getting lower, academic programs have been changed without proper consultations with education officials, some educational subjects have been totally eliminated or cut back, and one fifth of all Kazakh children are not able to attend schools.

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER ON TRIAL.
According to information provided by correspondents of RFE/RL, court proceedings against the Russian weekly newspaper "Nachnem s Ponedelnika" at Almaly District Court in the former capital are continuing. The newspaper, represented at the trial by editor Ramazan Esirgepov, is accused of having published some "false" materials "groundlessly criticizing the activities of Almaty City Court."

ALMATY MILITARY UNIT IS NOT ABLE TO CARRY OUT ITS DUTIES.
Almaty Military unit #7552 belonging to the City's Interior Affairs Department has announced that it is unable to fulfill its mission due to lack of fuel. The unit's mission is to convey criminals and accused persons from jails to Courts and labor camps. Starting August 1, Almaty City's Courts are providing the Military unit with gasoline.

MEDICAL PERSONNEL STAGE PROTEST IN ALMATY.
Dozens of physicians and medical personnel staged an action of protest in Altynsarin Park in the former capital on August 3. The main demands put forward by the demonstrators were payment of overdue salaries and the reversal of a decision by the local authorities to reduce the number of personnel in the local hospitals and clinics.

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