9 January 2002
RUSSIAN STATE DUMA SPEAKER VISITS IN ASTANA
A Russian Duma delegation led by speaker Gennadii Seleznev arrived in Astana on 9 January. Seleznev held talks with Zharmakhan Tuyaqbayev, the Speaker of the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament).
At a briefing after the talks, Seleznev told journalists that he is a bit concerned over some statements made by some U.S. officials on the situation in Afghanistan. He said that he was very surprised by statements that Washington is not going to repeat the Soviet Union's mistake and will stay in Afghanistan as long as possible.
According to Seleznev, the presidents and parliaments of Central Asian states should discuss the status of American troops deployed in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. He said that the Russian government would be concerned if U.S. military bases stayed on Central Asian territory permanently. He stressed the fact that all the Central Asian states are members of the CIS Collective Security Treaty, adding that they should conduct their policy in accordance with that treaty. [In fact Uzbekistan declined two years ago to renew its membership in the treaty. -- ED.]
Speaking about the destiny of the Russian language in Central Asia, Seleznev noted that Kyrgyzstan has already adopted a law giving official status to the Russian language. He added that the same issue is under discussion in Moldavia. As for Kazakhstan, said Seleznev, the Russian language is widely used in this country.
LEADERS OF KAZAKHSTAN'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE
Two of the leaders of Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice Movement, Tilek Alzhanov and Bolat Abilov, held a press conference in Almaty on January 9 devoted to the election law and media freedom in Kazakhstan. According to Abilov, mass media in Kazakhstan cannot be defined as really free. He added that a new law on mass media should be introduced. Alzhanov said that a new law on election should also be adopted, adding that the current law turns any elections in the country into appointments.
Also discussed was the plight of former Pavlodar Oblast governor Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov and his former associates. Zhaqiyanov was sacked as governor by presidential decree in late November after co-founding Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice. Abilov said that the Kazakh authorities have reently brought criminal proceedings against Zhaqiyanov. His former associates Alexander Riumkin and Sergey Gorbenko have similarly been accused of financial mismanagement and abuse of power. Riumkin is in hospital, and Gorbenko is in Pavlodar City jail.
Preparations for marking of the 90th anniversary, on 12 January 2002, of the birth of former Communist Party of Kazakhstan First Secretary Dinmukhammed Kunayev were discussed. Kunayev was ousted by then CPSU Central Committee General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1986, sparking violent protests in Almaty. Kunayev spent last years of his life under house arrest. On January 8, the Grand Canal in Almaty was renamed as Kunayev Canal.
PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES URGE PROSECUTOR GENERAL TO SOLVE PROBLEM OF WOMEN IN SOUTH KAZKAHSTAN
Mazhilis deputies Valerian Zemlianov and Serik Abdrakhmanov announced on 9 January that they have written to Kazakhstan's Prosecutor General Rashid Tusupbekov urging him to solve the problems of women in Baidibek rayon of South Kazakhstan Oblast. Representatives of women from that area have been living in Astana railway station for five months now, trying to meet with Kazakhstan's top officials in order to solicit their help in securing payment of their overdue social allowances dating back to 1997. Zemlianov told his fellow parliament deputies that solving that problem is not simply a question of money but of justice. In all, South Kazkahstan oblast's administration owes local mothers over 43 million Tenges ($290,000)