Almaty, 27 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Calm is reported today in the southern Kazakh city of Shymkent. Our correspondents report city authorities switched on electricity and natural gas in the city following three days of unrest and demonstrations over a shortage of electricity, natural gas and telephone service.
Kazakh and Uzbek officials recently signed an agreement in Tashkent to increase gas supplies to southern Kazakhstan. Northern Kazakhstan has suffered gas shortages since the summer because of energy debts to Russia. Parts of Kazakhstan have reported famine conditions.
Prime Minister Concludes Moscow Visit
Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Akejan Kajegeldin has returned from Moscow, where he held talks with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Presidential Chief-of-Staff Anatoly Chubais. Our corresponent in Almaty reports topics of discussion in Moscow included bi-lateral economic cooperation, Russia's lease payments for the Baikonur space center, the status of the Caspian Sea, and Kazakh oil and gas production and delivery.
The Russian officials expressed concern about Kazakhstan's large population of ethnic Russians. Kazakhstan's population is about 40 percent ethnic Russian, most of whom live in northern Kazakhstan. Bi-lateral agreements signed during Kajegeldin's visit included ones on providing ethnic Kazakhs living on Russian territories and Russians living in Kazakhstan with the TV and radio programs in their languages. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is still reported in Moscow. Nazarbayev last week was the first foreign leader to meet President Boris Yeltsin, following Yeltsin's heart surgery.
Rally Permit Denied
Almaty authorities have refused permission for another opposition rally planned December 1. Authorities said the rally might be held a week later. Opposition leaders organized big rallies in Kazakhstan two weeks ago despite a ban by authorities. At that time, rally organizers said they would seek permission for a December 1 rally to protest declining economic conditions. Most of the mid-November demonstrators were retirees who have not received their pensions in months. Others complained that they had no gas or electricity in their homes and blamed the government for failing to pay its energy debts to Russia.