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Kazakh Report: September 24, 1999


24 September 1999

CHAIRMAN OF THE KAZAKH PARLIAMENT LOWER CHAMBER HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE.
Speaking at a press conference in Almaty on 23 September, Marat Ospanov, chairman of the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament, harshy criticized the government's financial allocations for 2000. Ospanov said that the state budget for the next fiscal year had been drawn up by the Kazakh government in order "to reduce pensions and other privileges for ordinary citizens of the country and to increase the allocations for the government and the Parliament." Ospanov was speaking on behalf of Otan party, which backs President Nursultan Nazarbaev. According to Ospanov, about 570 million Tenges ($4.1 million) is allocated annually for the needs of the Kazakh Parliament. Ospanov said that sum is exorbitant and could be cut.

PREMIERS OF BELARUS, KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN, RUSSIA AND TAJIKISTAN MET IN ASTANA.
The Prime Ministers of the five member-states of the CIS Customs Union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) met in Astana on 24 September for a session of the Premiers Council of the Customs Union. The further development of the mutual economic and trade relations between those five countries was discussed. Arriving in Astana the previous night, Russian Premier Vladimir Putin said that the relations between Kazakhstan and Russia could be defined as ties between real partners. Putin also met on 24 September with his Kazakh counterpart Nurlan Balghymbayev to discuss the relations between Moscow and Astana in such spheres as technical and scientific cooperation, cultural and academic exchange, and joint efforts in oil and natural gas exploration in the Caspian.

Speaking at a joint press conference after that meeting, Putin said Russia will do its best to carry out all its obligations and duties defined in all the bi-lateral documents signed between Russia and Kazakhstan in recent years. The only document signed at the end of the Putin-Balghymbayev meeting was on joint measures in border cooperation in 1999-2007. Putin met separately with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Amangeldy Muraliyev. He also reportedly held talks with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

KAZAKH PRESIDENT ESTABLISHED STATE COMMISSION ON RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM CONTROL.
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev has signed a Decree establishing a new state board, called the commission on controlling religious extremism. Kazakhstan State Security Council Secretary Marat Tazhin was appointed to head the newly established state board.

KAZAKH MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND NATIONAL CONCORD MIGHT FACE TRIAL.
Kazakh Minister of Information and National Concord Altynbek Sarsenbayev was summoned to the Almaty City Court to face charges brought against him by Kazakh filmmaker Alexander Golovinskiy. The trial will take place on 27 September. Golovinskiy accuses the Kazakh minister of "having not met obligations defined in the written agreement signed by himself and Mr. Golovinskiy this year." Sarsenbayev had asked Golovinskiy to shoot a 45 minutes movie about the culture of modern Kazakhstan. When the movie was almost completed, Altynbek Sarsenbayev suddenly decided to stop the agreements. Golovinskiy is demanding 50 Million Tenges ($360,000) in compensation.

GROUP OF ETHNIC CHECHENS ARRESTED IN ALMATY FOR ILLEGAL WEAPONS TRADING.
A group of ethnic Chechens was arrested in Almaty on September 23. They had weapons for sale, including Kalashnikov machine guns and Makarov pistols, estimated at $30,000. Police officials told RFE/RL correspondents that the confiscated machine guns had no serial numbers on them. The weapon traders also had $2,300 in forged bank notes. Investigations are underway.

ALMATY MAYOR MET FOREIGN BUSINESSMEN.
Almaty City Mayor Viktor Khrapunov held a special session on 23 September for foreign businessmen working in the former capital of Kazakhstan. According to Khrapunov, after the move of the Kazakh capital from Almaty to Astana the former capital started suffering from a lack of investments. He called all heads of foreign banks and companies working in Almaty to increase their investment in the infrastructure of the former capital.

FORMER VICE PREMIER BALTASH TURSYNBAYEV HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Former Kazakh Vice-Premier Baltash Tursynbayev, who is a candidate for the 17 October elections to the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's Parliament, travelled from Qostanay to Almaty where he held a press conference on 22 September. Tursynbayev told journalists that he encountered numerous problems in Qostanay region while trying to meet with potential voters. He said also that the region's governor, Omirzaq Shukeyev, had created artificial obstacles in order to undermine Tursynbayev's chances of being elected to Parliament. Tursynbayev said he has sent a special open letter to President Nazarbayev informing him about the pre-election situation in Qostanay region. He told journalists that he has established a new political block, called Center, adding that the new political block is neither pro-government, nor pro-opposition.

VICE CHAIRMAN OF KAZAKH REPUBLICAN PEOPLE PARTY'S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE COMPLAINS.
Amirzhan Qosanov, Vice Chairman of the Republican People Party of Kazakhstan's Executive Committee, told RFE/RL correspondents on September 23 that the Almaty City authorities cut off all the telephone lines in the five-storey building in which the party's headquarters are situated. The Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan is led by former Kazakh Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin from exile. Qosanov told RFE/RL journalists that Akezhan Kazhegeldin is currently in London, adding that his health condition is still shaky. Kazhegeldin spent about a week in Kremlin's Central Clinic and Barvikha sanatorium in Moscow with heart problems after an unsuccessful attempt by the Kazakh authorities to arrest him in Russia earlier this month. According to Qosanov, the decision of the Almaty City authorities to cut off the telephone lines in the building rented by the Republican People Party was politically motivated. But the city authorities say it was due to non-payment of bills by other organizations and firms renting premises in the same building.

EDITOR OF 'SOL�DAT' NEWSPAPER ON IMPOUNDING OF THE NEWSPAPER'S MOST RECENT ISSUE IN EASTERN KAZAKHSTAN OBLAST.
RFE/RL correspondents report that the latest issue of the newspaper "Sol-Dat" was confiscated by Kazakh Customs Committee officials in Eastern Kazakhstan Oblast this week. The newspaper is published in the Altay Kray town of Rubtsovsk in the Russian Federation as all publishing houses in Kazakhstan refuse to print it. The paper's editor, Marat Qabanbay, told RFE/RL on September 23 that policemen had halted cars transporting the latest issue of the paper from Altay Kray to Kazakhstan and all the newspapers had later been impounded by Customs officers. According to Qabanbay, the latest issue of the paper contained materials on preparations for the parliamentary elections and on the stand-off between former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin and Kazakhstan's Procurator-General.

CHIEF OF THE KAZAKH BUREAU ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND RULE OF LAW CRITICIZES KAZAKH REGULATIONS ON TRAVELING ABROAD.
Yevgenii Zhovtis expressed his attitude to the Kazakh regulations on traveling abroad at a press conference held on September 22 in Almaty. Zhovtis said that the regulation requiring an exit visa for every Kazakh citizen who intends to travel abroad is an "atavism - a remnant from the former totalitarian regime." "Whatever the current authorities of Kazakhstan say about the necessity to keep such a regulation is a violation of human rights, there are no such rules in any other normal country," said Zhovtis. According to Kazakh regulations, any Kazakh citizen who wants to go abroad must get an exit visa, in other words, permission from the authorities to travel abroad. Such a visa is issued by the special visa and passport control department called OVIR. It takes two weeks or more to obtain such permission. In many cases travel bureaus can "help" citizens to get the exit visa quicker, namely in two or three days, for "additional charges."

AN ELDERLY WOMAN FROM KYRGYZSTAN DETAINED IN KAZAKHSTAN WITH 5 KILOGRAMS OF MARIJUANA.
Maguakhan Rakhmanaliyeva, an elderly Kyrgyz mother of 10 children, was detained in Kazakhstan this week for trafficking 5 kilos of marijuana to Astrakhan Oblast in the Russian Federation. She told policemen that everyday economic hardships made her become a drugs trafficker. Rakhmanaliyeva could face five years imprisonment.

RUSSIAN PREMIER EXPECTED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to arrive in Kazakhstan on September 23. One of the main issues he will discuss with top Kazakh officials will reportedly be the legal status of the Caspian sea status and joint exploration of oil and natural gas in the Caspian area. The issue is scheduled to be discussed in Tehran next month between the senior officials of the five Caspian states: Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation and Turkmenistan.

BRITISH DELEGATION IN ASTANA.
RFE/RL correspondents quote the press service of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry as reporting that a British government delegation started a working visit to Astana on September 21. The British delegation is scheduled to meet with top officials including President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Premier Nurlan Balghymbayev. The British delegation is also expected to visit the Kazakh Parliament, Central Election Commission and Almaty City Administration.

AGRARIAN PARTY LEADERS HELD PRESS CONFERENCE IN THE CAPITAL.
Leaders of the Kazakh Agrarian Party held a press conference on September 22 in the Kazakh capital where they accused representatives of the pro-Nazarbayev OTAN party of "not knowing the political situation in the country." An OTAN party activist had told journalists in Almaty the previous day that he knows nothing about the existence of the Agrarian party, adding that the Agrarian party is "passive to such an extent that nobody knows about its political platform." Agrarian party leaders in their turn said at the press conference in Astana that the OTAN party is "trying to advertise itself, spreading false information about its potential rivals." The OTAN party was established by supporters of President Nazarbayev immediately after the January 1999 presidential elections.

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