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Kazakh Report: August 10, 1999


10 August 1999

PRESIDENT NAZARBAEV DISMISSES DEFENCE MINISTER AND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN.
According to information provided to RFE/RL Astana bureau by the Kazakh presidential press service, on the evening of 9 August President Nazarbayev signed a decree dismissing senior officials in the Defence Ministry and the National Security Committee.

According to official report, Defence Minister Mukhtar Altynbayev and chairman of the National Security Committee Nurtai Abyqayev, along with other officials in the two departments, were dismissed because of an arms export scandal in March of this year.

Correspondents of RFE/RL report that a meeting of the Kazakh Security Council on August 9 chaired by President Nazarbayev was devoted to the problem of the export of arms and military equipment. During the meeting, President Nazarbayev criticized the defence minister and the Security Committee for failing to investigate the scandal around six MiG-21 jet fighters.

In March 1999, Azerbaijan officials seized at Baku airport a Russian "Ruslan" military transport aircraft with six disassembled MiG-21 fighters on board. Azeri officials alleged that the warplanes were bound for Yugoslavia, while Kazakhstan, which claimed ownership of the fighters, said the aircraft were scrap metal being shipped to metallurgical plants in Slovakia.

According to a report from Astana, Deputy Defence Minister and Chief of Staff Bakhytzhan Ertayev was named acting defence minister and Alnur Musayev, who already served as chairman of the Kazakh National Security Committee before replaced by Abyqayev one year ago, was appointed head of the committee again.

SIX CASES OF PLAGUE IN KAZAKHSTAN, ONE DEAD.
A teenage boy has died of bubonic plague in Kyzyl-Orda region, RFE/RL correspondents reported on 9 August. In an interview with RFE/RL, Faizolla Bismildin, head of the sanitary-epidemiology department at the Kazakh Health committee, said that six cases of plague have registered in three separate oblasts of Kazakhstan: three - in Mangystau oblast, two - in Kyzyl-Orda oblast and one - in Aqtobe oblast. He added that 2.5 million tenge from state funds have been made available to contain the disease, but this is insufficient.

KAZAKH OFFICIALS STARTED OFFICIAL REGISTRATION OF CANDIDATES FOR THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
Correspondents of RFE/RL in Almaty reported on 9 August that the Kazakh officials started to register candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Registration will last from August 9 until August 28.

According to RFE/RL correspondents, 31 candidates have already been registered as candidates for 16 seats in the Senate, thr upper house of the Kazakh Parliament.

'ATTAN' MOVEMENT COMMEMORATED 54TH ANNIVERSARY OF BOMBING OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI.
The 'Attan' anti-nuclear movement headed by Amantai Asylbekov organized a meeting on 9 August to mark the 54th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the two Japanese cities and to raise again the problem of the adverse effects and aftermath of a nuclear disaster in Kazakhstan.

The impact of Soviet nuclear tests on Kazakh territory was one hundred times worse than those in Japan, Asylbekov said during the meeting. He also demanded that the Kazakh authorities close the Baikonur space launch station.

MORE REPORTS ON DRUG TRAFFICKING THROUGH KAZAKHSTAN.
RFE/RL correspondents on 9 August reported more cases of illegal drug trafficking from Tajikistan and Afghanistan to Russia via Kazakhstan.

Last week Kazakh officials detained several citizens of Tajikistan in Astana, Qostanay and Petropavl for illegal drug trafficking. The detained Tajiks had reportedly swallowed capsules containing drugs.

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