20 June 2002
KAZAKH PARLIAMENT AGAIN FRUITLESSLY DISCUSSES DRAFT LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES
Although the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament) decided at its session on 19 June to resume discussions of the draft law on political parties on June 25, a group of Mazhilis members made the Parliament to discuss the issue again on June 20. According to the deputies who insisted on doing so, the new law is desperately needed by Kazakh society. That statement caused protests among some Mazhilis deputies. Ghani Qasymov called his colleagues to "respect their own decisions but not the ideas and instructions of those who worked with some of Mazhilis members after 7:00 p.m.," implying that those of his colleagues who did their best to squeeze the issue of the draft law on political parties into the agenda did so at the behest of the government. Kazakh Communist Party leader Serikbolsyn Abdildin criticized those lobbying the bill for their attempt to, as he said, "advertise a half-baked, undeveloped and needless law."
MUKHTAR ABLIYAZOV'S TRIAL WILL START ON JUNE 24: KAZAKHSTAN'S SUPREME COURT
Officials of Kazakhstan's Supreme Court announced officially on 20 June that the trial of former Minister of Trade and Industry Mukhtar Abliyazov, who is now a leading member of the opposition movement Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice, will start on June 24, and will be open for anyone interested. Abliyazov is accused of financial crimes while in office, although he and his lawyers say that all the charges against him are politically motivated. Dozens of witnesses are expected to testify at the trial.
KAZAKHSTAN MARKS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF REFUGEES
The representative in Kazakhstan of the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Abdul Karim Gul, Rasul Zhumaly of Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry, and Vladimir Novikov of the UN office in Almaty held a press conference at Almaty's National Press Club on June 20 to mark the International Day of Refugees. It was reported at the press conference that in general, over 23 million refugees need support and assistance. Kazakhstan has about 20,000 refugees, many of them from Afghanistan, Chechnya and Tajikistan.
NATO INTRODUCES 'VIRTUAL SILK ROAD" INTERNET PROGRAM FOR CENTRAL ASIA AND CAUCASUS
A NATO working group introduced citizens of Almaty to a new program for Internet-users in Central Asia and Caucasus at a special gathering on June 20. The program is called "Virtual Silk Road" and its main goal is to provide citizens of Central Asian and Caucasian states with cheaper and more reliable Internet access. The main beneficiaries are likely to be educational establishments. The gathering was held at the Kazakh National Technological University in Almaty.