18 April 2000
LEADING ARMS EXPERT ASSASSINATED LAST WEEKEND BURIED YESTERDAY.
Talghat Ibrayev - a leading arms expert of the State Weapons Control Agency called "Qaru-Zharaq" was buried on 17 April in Almaty. Mr. Ibrayev was shot dead last weekend in front of his house by unknown persons. Some newspapers and TV stations covering the assassination of Mr. Ibrayev hinted at the fact that Mr. Ibrayev had been involved in investigations around illegal MiG-29 jets sales to North Korea and might have had some information about the deal. The issue of illegal MiG-29 sales to Pyongyang was discussed by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and U.S. State Secretary Madeleine Albright during her official visit to Astana last Saturday. The only person found guilty of having conducted the MiGs sales - a Kazakh businessman Alexander Petrenko, was amnestied and released from the trial's hearings earlier this year. Chief of Kazakh National Security Committee Nurtay Abyqayev and Kazakh Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbayev were sacked from their position on the wake of the MiG scandal last year. But both were promoted again recently: the former became First Deputy of Kazakh Foreign Minister, the latter - Commander of Kazakhstan's Air Defense Forces. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had assured U.S. leadership about his having been not aware of the MiG sales to North Korea last year, had promised personally to U.S. Vice President Albert Gore and President Bill Clinton to "make every effort in order to clarify the situation around 40 military planes sold to North Korea and to punish all the persons involved" in December last year. Madeleine Albright told journalists at joint press conference held after her talks with President Nazarbayev on April 15, that Washington "was surprised and disappointed" when learning of the two suspected Kazakh officials' "transfers". President Nursultan Nazarbayev reacted to that statement saying to journalists that "it was not U.S. Secretary's matter to decide whom to appoint as Ministers in independent Kazakhstan".
JOINT KAZAKH-RUSSIAN COMMISSION STARTED DISCUSSING BAIKONUR LEASING ISSUE.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from Almaty that joint Kazakh-Russian Commission started discussing the issue of Baikonur Space Complex's leasing in Baikonur on April 18. Kazakh delegation is led by Kazakh Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Vladimir Shkolnik. Russia is represented by a group headed by Chief of Russian Aerospace Agency Yuriy Koptev. Issue of possible introduction of amendments to Russo-Kazakh agreement on Baikonur's lease is discussed at the meeting reportedly.
KAZAKH PRESIDENT IS EXPECTED TO PAY A TWO-DAY VISIT TO TASHKENT.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev will start two-day official trip to Uzbek capital - Tashkent on April 20, correspondents of RFE/RL report from Astana. It is not clear what President Nazarbayev's agenda will be. His Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov is expected to leave for Moscow, Russia later this or next week reportedly. All those trips are expected right after U.S. State Secretary Madeleine Albright's visit to the region.
TRIAL OF AKEZHAN KAZHEGELDIN'S FORMER BODYGUARDS CONTINUES.
Trial of Piotr Afanasenko and Satzhan Ibrayev - former bodyguards of Kazakhstan's former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin, continued on April 18. The two officers are accused of illegal weapons keeping. Yesterday and today Judge Bakhytzhan Elshibayev, Prosecutor and lawyers of the accused officers examined films taped by Kazakh National Security Committee during the search of cars and apartments belonging to Piotr Afanasenko and Satzhan Ibrayev last year.
PROTEST ACTION IN TARAZ CONTINUES.
Several more hunger strikers joined demonstrators at Phosphorus Producing Plant in Taraz, Zhambyl Oblast. The workers of the plant including former employees who became invalids during their careers in the industrial facility demand their overdue salaries and pensions to be paid off. Hunger strikers Bakhytzhan ZhumaghAliyev and Abduali Sarybayev were hospitalized. In all, 5 hunger strikers are in local hospitals currently.
ALBRIGHT MET LEADERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN KAZAKHSTAN.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who visited Kazakhstan last Saturday, met leaders of political parties. The meeting, which took place after her talks with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, lasted for more than an hour, RFE/RL correspondents report. Leaders of the three main opposition parties were represented along with some members of pro-Presidential parties. There were Sydakhmet Quttyqadam of Orleu party, Serikbolsyn Abildin of Communist party and Gaziz Aldamzharov of Peoples Republican party (which led by Kazhegeldin from exile). According information provided to RFE/RL by Ermukhan Ertysbayev, chief of State Strategic Researches Institute, all the three were very critical about fate of democracy in Kazakhstan. Mr. Ertysbayev held on 17 April a press conference at the Kazakh National Press club in Almaty.
12 POLITICIANS LEFT FOR ASTANA FOR MEETING WITH U.S. STATE SECRETARY.
On 14 April at noon (local time) 12 Kazakh politicians left Almaty by train for Astana - the capital, in order to meet U.S. State Secretary Madeleine Albright at Intercontinental Hotel of the Kazakh capital on 15 April at 6:00 PM local time. U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan helped the politicians to get an opportunity to speak to the U.S. Secretary for 1 hour. Such prominent opposition figures as Seydakhmet Quttyqadam (leader of Orleu movement), Ghaziz Aldamzharov (Chairman of Republican People Party's Executive Committee), Piotr Svoik (co-Chairman of Azamat Party) and Serikbolsyn Abdildin (leader of Kazakhstan's Communist Party) are among the politicians scheduled to hold talks with Madeleine Albright. Representatives of pro-government and pro-Nazarbayev parties , such as Otan, Civic and Agrarian Parties , as well as wide known journalists Lera Tsoi and Tatiyana Deltsova are also members of the group. Seydakhmet Quttyqadam told correspondents of RFE/RL that the opposition leaders had very high expectations from the meeting with State Secretary Albright, adding though that 1 hour allocated for the meeting "might not be enough to introduce U.S. State Secretary with the real situation in Kazakhstan on wider scale".
WORKING GROUP OF COUNCIL OF TRUST AND MUTUAL COOPERATION IN ASIA FINISHED ITS SEMINAR IN ALMATY.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that working group of Council of Trust and Mutual Cooperation in Asia accomplished its seminar on April 14. The seminar started working in Almaty on April 12. Foreign Ministers of about 20 countries, as well as numerous representatives of foreign embassies took part in the seminar's work. Kazakh Vice Foreign Minister Qayrat Abuseitov represented Kazakhstan at the seminar reportedly. Such issues as economic and cultural cooperation between Asian nations, regional security and integration were discussed at the seminar.
TRIAL OF AKEZHAN KAZHEGELDIN'S FORMER BODYGUARDS CONTINUED.
Former bodyguards of the former Kazakh Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin Piotr Afanasenko and Satzhan Ibrayev were again interrogated at Almaty's Court by Judge Bakhytzhan Elshibayev on April 14. Mr. Ibrayev's lawyer Baltash Aliyev told correspondents of RFE/RL today, that all the accusations put forward against the two officers by the Kazakh police and National Security Committee were groundless. According to Dr. Aliev, Satzhan Ibrayev's alleged having given a pistol to a Kazakh businessman Oleg Ivko cannot be proved. He also expressed his opinion that all the accusations had been fabricated, and the two officers would be freed. Akezhan Kazhegeldin and his former bodyguards are officially accused of illegal weapons keeping. Mr. Kazhegeldin is in Europe currently. He leads Republican People's Party from exile.