11 December 2001
PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV TO VISIT WASHINGTON ON DECEMBER 21
During talks between visiting U.S. State Secretary Colin Powell and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana on 9 December, Powell handed Nazarbayev an official invitation from U.S. President George W. Bush to visit Washington D.C on December 21.
KAZAKH PARLIAMENT APPROVES STATE BUDGET FOR 2002 IN SECOND READING
The Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber, the Mazhilis, approved the state budget for 2002 in the second reading at its 11 December session. A special conciliatory commission consisting of members of the Senate (Upper Chamber) and Mazhilis adopted the draft budget in the first reading on December 4. That commission was created to iron out discrepancies between the positions of the two chambers. Kazakhstan's Premier Qasymzhomart Toqayev argued on 4 December against raising revenues, saying it was not a "wise decision" in the current situation when oil prices on international markets are falling. The senators agreed with Toqaev, but Mazhilis deputies did not, and the conciliatory commission finally decided to increase state revenues and expenditures by 5 million Tenges. Toqayev's cabinet had originally proposed about 520 billion Tenges in revenues and about 601 billion Tenges in expenditures ($1 equals 148 Tenges).
PARLIAMENT DEPUTY CALLS FOR OFFICIAL OBSERVANCE OF RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS
Mazhlis deputy Amangeldy Aytaly has urged Parliament to discuss the possibility of officially observing religious holidays such as Ramadan-ait, Kurban-ait and Orthodox Christmas. He said that since the majority of Kazakhstan's population are either Muslims or Orthodox Christians, all the corresponding religious holidays should be legalized. He also said that the issue should have been discussed earlier this month when it was decided to mark Kazakhstan's independence day on two consecutive days (December 16 and 17) instead of one (December 16).
NEW INDEPENDENT PERIODICAL BEGINS PUBLICATION IN ALMATY
On 11 December the first issue of a new independent periodical, "Soz Weekly," was published in Almaty. ( "Soz" means "Word" in Kazakh.) The editor-in-chief of the new periodical is Sharip Quraqpay, former editor-in-chief of "DAT." "DAT was the first independent newspaper in Kazakh, but it had to cease publication two years ago due to pressure from the local authorities.
VETERANS OF DECEMBER 1986 UPRISE IN ALMATY HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE
Amanzhol Nalibayev, the Chairman of Zheltoqsan movement uniting victims and veterans of the December 1986 Almaty uprising, held press conference in Almaty on 11 December at which he said that the Kazakh cabinet has restored some privileges to the veterans of December 1986 events on the eve of the 15th anniversary of Zheltqosan. All veterans will receive additional social allowances and will be exempt from payment for traveling on public transport.
Nalibayev also told journalists that veterans of the protests will congregate at Almaty's Republic Square on December 16 in order to commemorate those who were killed in the clashes between police and young Kazakh demonstrators on December 17-19, 1986. The unrest was caused by the Soviet leadership's decision to replace the leader of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, ethnic Kazakh Dinmukhammed Kunayev, by an ethnic Russian, Gennadii Kolbin. The exact number of those killed by police and special armed forces during the disturbances has still not been officially confirmed. President Nazarbayev was among those who supported Kolbin, and was subsequently appointed Chairman of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic's Council of Ministers.