28 January 2000
US DELEGATION IN ASTANA.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from the Kazakh capital that a US delegation arrived to Astana this week. The delegation consists of top officials from the US State Department, Energy Department and other boards. The delegation came due to agreements reached during the 6th session of the US-Kazakh Economic Commission led by US Vice President Al Gore and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, held on December 20, last year. Such issues as conversion of the military facilities inherited by Kazakhstan from the Soviet era and joint efforts against a possible military threat are reportedly being discussed by the Kazakh officials and the US delegation.
KAZAKH AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE HANDED CREDENTIALS TO PRESIDENT CHIRAC.
Kazakh Ambassador to France Aqmaral Arystanbekova handed his credentials to the French President Jaques Chirac this week. The French President said at the meeting with Ambassador Arystanbekova that France was very interested in developing ties with Kazakhstan, adding that Kazakhstan played a decisive role in the Central Asian region.
KAZAKH OPPOSITION TO HOLD MASS PROTEST ACTION NEXT SUNDAY.
Valerian Zemlianov. Communist representative and member of Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber, the Mazhilis, told RFE/RL correspondents that several opposition movements, such as the Workers� Movement led by Madel Ismailov, and Pokoleniye led by Irina Savostina and others would hold an action of protest in Almaty, Semey and several other industrial centers of the country on Sunday, January 30. According to Valerian Zemlianov, the main goal of the action will be a protest against the newly adopted Labor Law and attempt to call Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to hold a national dialogue. The Kazakh opposition, namely, the Kazakh Republican People Party, called President Nazarbayev to discuss economic, social and political problems with the Kazakh opposition through a national dialogue last month. But there was no response from the leader of Kazakhstan yet.
NEW FACTION CREATED IN KAZAKH PARLIAMENT'S LOWER CHAMBER.
A new political block called Parasat (Intellect) was created in the Mazhilis, Lower Chamber of the Kazakh parliament, this week. Representatives of several parties, including the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, are members of the newly established Parliamentary faction.
KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER PROTESTS UZBEKISTAN'S ACTIVITIES ON THE KAZAKH-UZBEK BORDER.
The Kazakh Foreign Ministry sent a note of protest to Uzbekistan's Foreign Minister on January 26. It turned out that Uzbek border entered the territories of the Sary-Aghash and Qazyqurt regions of South Kazakhstan Oblast on January 25 without permission from the Kazakh side. The group of the armed Uzbek officers moved 5 kilometers into the Kazakh territory and installed state border signs on the 60 kilometer-long border line. In other words, 300 square kilometers of Kazakh territory tried to be cut off. Local inhabitants removed the signs and organized protest demonstrations. Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrisov told journalists on 27 January that according to an agreement reached between officials of the two countries at the CIS summit held in Moscow this week, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were supposed to establish a bi-lateral commission on defining the border. The commission was expected to start its first session in March this year. But Uzbekistan started delimiting the border without preliminary consultations with the Kazakh side. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry officially stated that Kazakhstan was not going to cede a single meter of its territory.
US TRADE CHAMBER HELD ROUND TABLE IN ALMATY.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that representatives of the US Chamber of Trade held a round table in Almaty on January 27. It was mentioned at the round table discussion that in all, American companies and organizations had invested up to $2 billion to the Kazakh economy since 1991, which was about 28 per cent of all foreign investments to Kazakhstan in that period. The Kazakh Foreign Minister said at the round table that Kazakhstan had not been accepted into the World Trade Organization yet. Meanwhile American experts complained that such sectors of Kazakhstan as licensing, standardization visa issuance and the taxation system still needed to be developed and revised.
KAZAKH POP GROUP TO SUE KARAVAN NEWSPAPER.
A well-known Kazakh pop group "ABK" consisting of such singers as Medeu Arymbayev, Qydyrali Bolmanov and Erlan Kobeyev are going to sue one of the most popular periodicals of Kazakhstan - Karavan newspaper. The group members claim that the newspaper published some false material about their problems they had with the police during their tour in Qaraghandy City, Central Kazakhstan, last year. According to the "ABK" members, Karavan insulted their honor and ethnic dignity.
MIG TRIAL RESUMED.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from Almaty that on January 26 the trial of General Bakhytzhan Ertayev - Chief of the Kazakh Army's General Staff - and Alexander Petrenko - a Kazakh businessman - resumed after almost a two-week break. General Ertayev and Mr. Petrenko are accused of having been involved in illegal sales of obsolete former Soviet military jets to North Korea. The trial had been stopped and resumed several times this month. Last time it was temporarily stopped due to the health condition of General Ertayev, who had a minor heart attack during the trial hearings. He was accompanied by a doctor at the trial session on 26 January. The trial was held behind closed doors in the building of the office of Almaty Oblast's Military Commission. The same day, January 26, General Ertayev held a briefing at the Almaty branch of the Union of Afghanistan War Veterans. He told his colleagues, the Afghan War veterans, that all the accusations put forward against him were groundless, noting that he had only been implementing decisions and orders made by his bosses and the Kazakh government. He also said that the Chairman of the Kazakh National Security Committee (formerly KGB), Alnur Musayev, was making some effort to "make him guilty". Witnesses started giving testimonies at the trial process on 26 January. But the whereabouts of one of the main witnesses, General Director of Kazakhstan's Metallist Plant, are unknown. The trial is expected to last for two more weeks.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF HBC-PRESS NEWSPAPER IS OFFICIALLY SUED.
Oleg Ablakayev - Editor-in-Chief of the HBC-Press newspaper in Oskemen, Eastern Kazakhstan - is officially accused of supporting separatists, correspondents of RFE/RL reported. The operations of the newspaper were suspended this week by a decision of the Oskemen City Court. HBC-Press newspaper printed an address of Victor Pugachev (Kazimirchik) to all ethnic Russians of Northern and Eastern Kazakhstan in November last year. The local Interior Affairs Department started a criminal case against the HBC-Press's Editor-in-Chief. A former member of the Oskemen City Maslikhat (Council), Nikolay Ivanov - who was suspected as one of the supporters of the Pugachev group - is in Moscow, Russia currently seeking political asylum in the Russian Federation reportedly. Victor Pugachev (Kazimirchik) is in the Almaty Central Psychiatric Clinic passing through examinations. It was reported that he might have some mental problems.
TWO ETHNIC KURDS OF KAZAKHSTAN ARRESTED IN TURKEY.
Correspondents of RFE/RL quote Kazakh Foreign Ministry officials as reporting that two ethnic Kurds of Kazakhstan were arrested in Turkey this week. The Kazakh nationals of Kurdish origin - Tahir Bashirov and Karim Mamedov - were officially accused by the Turkish authorities of having some links with the PKK - a separatists party of Turkish Kurds. The two Kazakh citizens are reportedly in a jail in Erzurum. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry made a statement that the two ethnic Kurds of Kazakhstan had been legally arrested in Turkey and that Kazakhstan had nothing against the arrest.
A LEADER OF KAZAKH REPUBLICAN PEOPLE PARTY REFUSED EXIT VISA.
Gaziz Aldamzharov - Chairman of the Kazakh Republican the Executive Committee of the People�s Party - was reportedly refused an exit visa by OVIR of Almaty this week. According to Kazakh law, any Kazakh citizen intending to leave the country has to get an exit visa at thr Visa and Passport Control Board (OVIR). Some countries of the former Soviet Union, such as the Russian Federation and Kyrgyzstan, have eliminated this obsolete regulation inherited from the Soviet regime. Meanwhile in Kazakhstan, the exit visa system is becoming more restricted. Gaziz Aldamzharov says that he was refused an exit visa because of being an active leader of the Republican People�s Party led by the former Kazakh Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin in exile.
FLU IN SOME REGIONS OF KAZAKHSTAN TURNS INTO A BIG PROBLEM.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from Almaty that the number of flu patients in the city is increasing. The situation is beoming even worse in Pavlodar and Qaraghandy oblasts reportedly. Secondary Schools of Qaraghandy temporarily stopped their operations due to the flu problem.
BIGELDY GABDULLIN FOUND GUILTY BY ZHETYSU DISTRICT COURT.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that on January 25 Judge Gulnar Musrepova of Almaty's Zhetysu District announced a verdict on the Vice-Chairman of the Kazakh Republican People Party's Executive Committee and Editor-in-Chief of XXI Century Newspaper - Bigeldy Gabdullin. Mr. Gabdullin was found guilty of obstructing the activities of the police. According to the verdict, Mr. Gabdullin must pay a 5,075 Tenge ($1 equals 140 Tenges) fine. Bigeldy Gabdullin told correspondents of RFE/RL the same day that he was not satisfied with the court decision and that he was going to appeal the verdict to the Kazakh Supreme Court. According to Mr. Gabdullin, the verdict meant that any session held by any political movement or party in Kazakhstan might be attended by the police without sanction and preliminary permission. In that case, said Mr. Gabdullin, one can easily call Kazakhstan a "police state."
"SOCIAL COURT" MOVEMENT DEMANDS BELGIAN TRACTEBEL. COMPANY TO LEAVE KAZAKHSTAN.
Leaders and activists of the movement called "Social Court" led by the Kazakh Communists and representatives of some other social and non-government organizations of Kazakhstan held a session in Almaty on 25 January, at which they decided to put forward their demands about the Belgian Tractebel Company's activities in the country. The participants at the session demanded Tractebel to leave Kazakhstan as soon as possible. The Company managed to win special tenders held by the Kazakh Government in 1996 and controls electricity and heating supply facilities in Almaty and Almaty Oblast. The Company paid $7 million for purchasing the facilities. Meanwhile, said the activists of the "Social Court", the heating and energy supply facilities in Almaty Oblast could be estimated at $868 million. They also said that the Kazakh Government had made a decision based upon its own interests when organizing the tenders and based on giving preference to Tractebel in 1996. Fees for electricity doubled and those for heating 1.5 times higher since Tractebel took the facilities under its control. According to the contract signed between Tractebel officials and the Kazakh Cabinet, the Belgian company had to invest $149 million by the beginning of 2000, but in fact only one third of that sum had been invested to energy and heating supplies of Almaty Oblast since then, said activists of the movement.
INDONESIAN SATELLITE TO BE LAUNCHED FROM BAIKONUR BY RUSSIAN PROTON IN FEBRUARY.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that an Indonesian satellite will be launched from the Baikonur Space Complex in Central Kazakhstan by a Russian proton rocket in February this year. It is not clear if Kazakhstan will share in some of the fee to be paid by the Indonesian party for the launch. Usually Russia gets $60-$90 million for every commercial satellite launch. Kazakhstan and Russia revised their agreements on the Baikonur lease last year after two blasts of Proton rockets over the Central Kazakhstan territory. The details of the lease agreement have never been fully unveiled. Proton rocket uses highly toxic substance - hepthile, as fuel. Last year Kazakhstan twice suspended all Proton rocket launches from Baikonur complaining that the explosions of the two Proton rockets caused ecological problems in the area. Correspondents of RFE/RL quote the Chief of Russian Space Research Agency Yuriy Koptev as saying that 14 Proton rockets will be launched from Kazakh territory this year.
CHINESE TRIADA MAFIA IN KAZAKHSTAN?
Correspondents of RFE/RL quote a Kazakh scholar, sinologist Klara Hafizova as saying that Chinese criminals united by a well known organized criminal group called Triada are becoming very active in Kazakhstan. Leader of Orleu Movement Seydakhmet Quttyqadam told correspondents of RFE/RL that the number of illegal immigrants from China was strikingly increasing. He added that some Chinese illegal immigrants already own expensive restaurants, hotels and apartment blocks in Kazakhstan. Mr. Quttyqadam also said that it was becoming very difficult to follow the activities of the Chinese criminals.