11 January 2002
ORAL SAULEBAY ARRIVES IN ALMATY FROM SHYMKENT
Oral Saulebay, a leading member of Kazakhstan's AZAT movement and Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Kazakh Land, arrived by rail in Almaty on the morning of 11 January. He was detained by Uzbek police on December 30 after residents of the Baghys village on the Kazakh-Uzbek border, which is populated by about 2,000 ethnic Kazakhs, declared an independent republic in a bid to focus the attention of Kazakh and Uzbek officials on the border delimitation problem faced by the district's residents. Saulebay told RFE/RL on his arrival that he had been kept in Tashkent jail till January 7. Then he was transferred to Kazakhstan and kept in South Kazakhstan Oblast Interior Affairs Department's jail until January 10.
Several dozen activists and leaders of different political parties and movements applauded Saulebay at the railway station on his arrival. Saulebay looked exhausted; he had apparently suffered an injury to his right arm. He was not able to give any press conference but promised to do so as soon as he has recovered.
KAZAKH PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES LEASE OF BAIKONUR SPACE COMPLEX
On January 11, the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament) discussed the ecological situation around the Baikonur Space Complex in Central Kazakhstan. Some deputies proposed that that lease paid by Russia to Kazakhstan ($115 million per annum) should be mainly given to local residents. They also proposed urging Russia not to use hepthil as fuel for rocket launches. Hepthil is known to be a highly toxic substance affecting local ecosystems. As a result of several accidents in 1999 and 2000 some regions of Central Kazakhstan were contaminated with hepthil.