16 January 2001
KAZAKH ANTI-CORRUPTION BODY MEETS.
Deputy Head of the presidential apparatus Baurzhan Mukhametzhanov chaired a session of Kazakhstan's State Staff on Fighting Against Organised Crime and Corruption in Astana on January 15. Neither RFE/RL correspondents nor journalists from other media outlets were permitted to attend. Prosecutor General Rashid Tusipbekov told participants that more than 100 workers of Kazakhstan's police and Interior Affairs Ministry were found guilty of bribery and other crimes in 2000. Nine prosecutors were sacked last year for similar offenses.
QARAGHANDY-ASTANA HIGHWAY CLOSED DUE TO BLIZZARDS..
All traffic bound for Astana on the Qaraghandy-Astana highway was halted near Temirtau and turned back by transport police on 16 January due to blizzards.
FORUM OF DEMOCRATIC FORCES HOLDS ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION.
The Forum of Democratic Forces, which unites several opposition movements and parties, held a round table discussion in Almaty on 15 January. Among those attending were Ghaziz Aldamzharov, the Vice Chairman of Kazakhstan's Republican People Party, Seydakhmet Quttyqadam, leader of the Orleu movement, Ersain Erqozha, Chairman of "Next Generation's Future - Education" movement, independent politician Karishal Assanov, Ermurat Bapi, Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper "SolDat," and parliament deputy Vladimir Makalkin. The main topics of discussion were the present social and economic conditions, and the possible return of millions of dollars belonging to Kazakhstan's top officials which have been impounded by U.S. and Swiss authorities in western banks.
NEW MEDICINE STRENGTHENING HUMAN IMMUNITY INTRODUCED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
On January 16 Nurlan Aspetov, who heads Kazakhstan's Sanitary and Hygiene Agency, told a press conference in Almaty that after 16 years research his laboratory has created a new strain of interferon which will be used for strengthening the human immune system.
COURT CASE AGAINST 'SOL-DAT' AGAIN POSTPONED.
Judge Baqytzhan Shoshyqbayev of Almaty's Zhetysu District Court, has postponed until 24 January the court case against the independent newpaper "SolDat," which was most recently scheduled for 16 January, because the lawyer representing dissident Karishal Assanov has not yet had time to familiarize himself with the case. Assanov and "SolDat" Editor-in-Chief Ermurat Bapi are officially accused of insulting the dignity and honour of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev in an article by Assanov published in "SolDat" last year. The issue of "SolDat" containing that article was, however, impounded in Russia by Kazakh customs officers and was never distributed in Kazakhstan.
MOTHERS FROM BAIDIBEK REGION OF SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN WANT TO SEE PRESIDENT.
Several women from South Kazakhstan have travelled to Astana in the hope of gaining an audience with President Nazarbaev. The women, all of whom have large families, complain that for the past five years they have not received the allowances to which they are entitled. Several local officials in South Kazakhstan were arrested and jailed last year for having misappropriated financial allocations for the mothers with many children, but the money they stole has still not been recovered. Ulmeken Saidova, the Chairwoman of the Adilet Movement, told RFE/RL's Astana bureau on 12 January that the women have sent telegrams to the Kazakh Presidential office and other senior officials asking to meet with them to discuss their problems, but they have not received any response. The women say that if Kazakh officials refuse to meet with them, they will try to reach Bishkek, in order to meet with Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev, whose son is married to one of Nazarbaev's daughters.
DEPUTY COMMANDER OF KAZAKH ARMY GENERAL STAFF HELD PRESS CONFERENCE
General Malik Saparov, the Deputy Commander of the Kazakh Army General Staff, told a press conference in Astana on January 12 that the infrastructure of the Western Military Region is under reconstruction. Saparov said that Kazakhstan's Western border is a very serious and important part of Kazakhstan's state border, reminding journalists about the clashes taking place in the North Caucasus. Saparov said Russia will continue leasing several military test fields in Kazakhstan. He added that Russia pays its fees for the lease by allowing Kazakh officers to study at Russian military schools free of charge.
VOLUME OF ENERGY SUPPLIED TO RUDNIY CITY IN QOSTANAY OBLAST DECREASED.
The volume of energy supplied to Rudniy City in Qostanay Oblast was cut by half on 12 January due to energy consumers' unpaid debts to the GRES1 power station. The city population is approximately 100,000. A similar situation is reported in South Kazakhstan, which traditionally gets natural gas from neighbouring Uzbekistan. A Kazakh government delegation led by Vice Premier Danial Akhmetov left for Tashkent on 12 January for talks with Uzbek leaders on natural gas deliveries to South Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan recently announced its decision to increase the fees for natural gas from $35 to $50 per 1,000 cubic meters.
On the eve of Central Asian Economic Union summit on 5 January, Uzbekistan cut the volume of natural gas delivered to Kazakhstan's Zhambyl, South Kazakhstan and Almaty Oblasts. Uzbek President Islam Karimov publicly promised at the summit in Almaty to solve the problem and to lower the fee. Tleughabyl Rakhimzhanov, who heads the Heating and Energy Department of South Kazakhstan Oblast, told RFE/RL that the southern regions of Kazakhstan will start getting the necessary volume of natural gas from Uzbekistan by 17 January.
PRO-NAZARBAEV OTAN PARTY PROTESTS KAZAKH FORUM OF DEMOCRATIC FORCES' STATEMENT ADDRESSED TO U.S. CONGRESS.
Leaders and activists of the Otan Party, created two years ago to support President Nazarbaev, told a press conference on January 11 that the written statement signed by members of Kazakhstan's Forum of Democratic Forces and sent to U.S. Congress earlier this month was an attempt by Kazakhstan's former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin to score additional points in his political struggle with Nazarbaev (see "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 5 January 2001). In their statement, members of Kazakhstan's Forum of Democratic Forces and several members of the Kazakh Parliament asked U.S. Congressmen to return impounded $500 million to Kazakhstan in the event that U.S. Citizen James Giffen, who is an advisor to President Nazarbaev, is found guilty by the U.S. Justice Department, which is investigating his possible involvement in bribery.
OTAN party member Asylbek Samaratov told RFE/RL on January 12 that if the investigations proved James Giffen's guilt, the "dirty money should not be sent to the Kazakh nation." Meanwhile Ermurat Bapi, Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper "SolDat," told RFE/RL that the OTAN party activists were trying "to save Nursultan Nazarbaev's face." Bapi added that the money, stolen by Kazakh officials through operations organised by James Giffen belongs to the Kazakh people and should be returned to Kazakhstan rather than impounded by U.S. Justice Department.
KUNAEV REMEMBERED ON HIS BIRTHDAY.
The Kunaev Foundation in Almaty marked 89th anniversary of the birth of Dinmukhammed Kunaev on January 12. Kunaev served as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan from December 1964 until December 1986, when CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev replaced him by ethnic Russian Gennadii Kolbin, a fomer second secretary of the Georgian Communist Party. That decision sparked mass protests by young people in Almaty that are known as the Almaty Rebellion of December 1986, or "Zheltoqsan." Kunaev spent the last seven years of his life under virtual house arrest, and died in Almaty in 1993 at the age of 81. President Nazarbaev was one of those who supported Moscow's decision to sack Kunaev and to replace him with Kolbin in 1986. Many citizens of Kazakhstan consider the years of Kunaev's rule as Kazakhstan's most prosperous period.
ATTACKERS OF LEADER OF KAZAKHSTAN'S "NEXT GENERATION'S FUTURE- EDUCATION" MOVEMENT ON TRIAL.
Three people went on trial on 11 January in Almaty's Bostandyq District Court on charges of organizing an attack on Ersain Erqozha, the chairman of Kazakhstan's "Next Generation's Future-Education" Movement in May 2000. An unidentified individual threw acid in Erqozha's face. The three accused are the main bookkeeper of Kazakhstan's Education Department, Mendybike Nalibaeva and unemployed Almaty citizens Talghat Zharmaghambetov and Maqsat Qusmanov. But after Nalibaeva had changed her lawyer at the last moment, her new lawyer asked judge Syrlybay Bazarbayev to postpone the trial on the grounds that he was not fully aware of some details of the case.
KAZAKHSTAN'S SUPREME COURT ADOPTS PROGRAM ON USE OF STATE LANGUAGE IN COURTS.
Saulebek Zhamken-Uly of Kazakhstan's Supreme Court told RFE/RL in Astana on 11 January that the Court has adopted a special program on the use of the State language in the justice system. Although Kazakh is officially the state language, Russian is de facto the main language used in almost all official government offices. Zhamken-Uly said special Kazakh language courses will soon be opened at all Courts, and gradually it will become mandatory for all judges to have a professional knowledge of both Kazakh and Russian.
UN OFFICIALS ARRIVED TO PAVLODAR TO ARRANGE REPATRIATION OF 24 ILLEGAL SRI LANKAN IMMIGRANTS.
Several officials of the UN Department on Migration have arrived in Pavlodar, Northern Kazakhstan, in order to speak with 24 citizens of Sri Lanka kept in the city's centre for homeless. The 24 Sri Lanka nationals were found by local police in a grave condition in December. They were double-crossed by Russian dealers who promised them to help to emigrate to Germany. After keeping the citizens of Sri Lanka in Omsk, Russian dealers brought them to vast steppes of Northern Kazakhstan and told them they were in Germany. One of the Sri Lankans froze to death. Mukhit Isbanov of the Pavlodar Oblast Administration said four more Sri Lankans froze to death on Russian territory. The body of the person who died while wandering in North Kazakhstan's severely frosty steppes is in Pavlodar City Morgue. The UN officials will help the surviving Sri Lankans to return home.
UYGHUR NEWSPAPER PRINTED IN GERMANY AVAILABLE IN ALMATY.
A Uyghur-language newspaper entitled "Istyqlal" started being sold at market places and newspaper-points in Almaty. The newspaper is printed in Munich by organisations uniting Uyghurs abroad. Yusufbek Mukhlisi, the leader of the Almaty-based Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Eastern Turkistan, told RFE/RL that he does not agree with the main idea expressed by the authors of the newspaper about the ways for "liberation of the Uyghur nation from Chinese imperialists." Mukhlisi argued that the liberation and independence of Uyghurs can be achieved only through an armed uprising, while "Istyqlal" says that independence should be reached through democratic changes in China and negotiations with Chinese democrats.
Saud Abdrakhman, another leader of the Uyghur community in Kazakhstan, told RFE/RL that Uyghurs' independence might be reached by the methods advocated by "Istyqlal," which means "Independence" in Uyghur.
About 300,000 ethnic Uyghurs currently live in Kazakhstan.
KAZAKH CENTRAL BANK CHAIRMAN OPPOSES MERGER OF KAZAKHSTAN'S TWO MAJOR BANKS.
Kazakh Central Bank chairman Grigoriy Marchenko told journalists on January 9 that he is against the idea of uniting two major banks, Kazkommertzbank and Halyq Saving Bank. Rumours about the banks' possible merger are spreading in Almaty and other cities. Marchenko said that such a merger of the two financial giants would violate Kazakhstan's antimonopoly laws, but did not either confirm ir deny the reports.
KAZAKHSTAN TO START ASSEMBLING KAMAZ TRUCKS.
The Almaty Heavy Machine Building Plant will start assembling Russia's Kamaz Trucks in February. The head of Almaty's Isker Joint Stock Company, Alexander Dorotin, told RFE/RL on 10 January that Kazakhstan has been officially registered in Geneva and Moscow as a machine building state and has received a special license.
CHIEF OF KAZAKH SPACE RESEARCH COMMITTEE HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Meiyrbek Moldabekov, the chief of Kazakhstan's Space Research Committee, held a press conference in Almaty on January 9, at which he told journalists that Russia will continue leasing the Baikonur Space Complex in Central Kazakhstan this year. He added that Proton rockets will start being launched from Baikonur Complex under special supervision, in order to minimize possible damage to the environment in the event of accidents. In 1999 two Proton rockets exploded over the Central Kazakhstan causing heavy contamination by hepthil, a highly toxic substance used by Proton rockets as fuel.
Moldabekov also said that Kazakh cosmonaut Talghat Musabaev has a chance of participating in works aboard the MIR space station next month. Problems faced by Kazakh citizens working at Baikonur Space Complex were discussed. Kazakh citizens working at Baikonur Space Complex are not protected by Russian laws. The majority of the workers are Russian citizens and are working under Russian laws in Baikonur.
CHIEF OF KAZAKHSTAN'S CENTRAL BANK: LAST YEAR WAS A GOOD FINANCIAL YEAR.
Grigoriy Marchenko, the Chairman of Kazakhstan's Central Bank told journalists on January 9 that the average inflation rate last year was 9.8 per cent. According to Marchenko, inflation might have been even lower if the prices for sugar, fruit, vegetables and eggs had not risen. Sugar prices rose by 40 per cent between January and December of 2000, while the price of vegetables and fruit rose by 30 per cent over the same period. But in general, Marchenko said, last year was a very good one for Kazakhstan's financial institutions.
KAZAKH PARLIAMENT DEPUTY HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Serik Abdrakhmanov, a member of the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of parliament) held a press conference in Almaty on January 9 where he said that the Kazakh Parliament had managed to reach many goals in 2000. Asked by RFE/RL correspondents whether he agreed with fellow Mazhilis deputy Ghaniy Qasymov, who had said that Kazakh parliament should be dissolved because of its inability to adopt proper laws and regulations, Abdrakhmanov said that he respects Ghaniy Qasymov for his active position, but that he does not share the latter's belief that parliament should be dissolved.
KAZAKH PREMIER HELD FIRST CABINET SESSION IN 2001.
Qasymzhomart Toqaev held the Cabinet's first session this year on 9 January. Toqaev said that the natural gas shortage in southern regions of the country is turning into a political issue. He added that the government should start thinking of developing the Amangeldy natural gas reserve as soon as possible in order to alleviate the natural gas shortage. He said he will ask President Nazarbaev to allocate about $50 million from the state oil budget for operations in the Amangeldy natural gas reserve which will start this year
Discussing discipline within the cabinet, Toqaev deplored the fact that many Kazakh officials working in Astana leave for Almaty every Friday, returning to their work places every Tuesday. Toqaev said that in future all officials leaving for Almaty will be asked to explain their reasons for doing so.