1 September 2000
KAZAKH PARLIAMENT HOLDS SECOND SESSION.
Addressing the second session of Kazakhstan's Parliament in Astana on1 September, President Nursultan Nazarbaev called on its deputies to work as a team in order to implement all programs of social, economic and political reforms. Nazarbaev said that the Kazakh Cabinet will double budget allocations for the army and Customs Committee for the next fiscal year. He called on deputies to start outlining special programs on cutting the number of young Kazakhs sent abroad to receive a religious education and increasing the number of medreses (Islamic schools) within Kazakhstan.
UPPER CHAMBER OF KAZAKH PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW SUPREME COURT CHAIRMAN.
At a separate session of the Parliament's Upper Chamber (Senate) on 1 September, Qayrat Mami was approved as the new Chairman of the Kazakh Supreme Court. Mami, who is 46, used to be Vice-Chief of Kazakh Presidential office. President Nazarbaev proposed him as Supreme Court chairman earlier this week. Former Supreme Court Chairman Maqsut Narikbaev resigned voluntarily from that post and has reportedly been named Rector of the Kazakh Law Institute in Almaty.
ACADEMIC YEAR BEGINS.
An estimated 3.75 million students started the academic year at secondary schools in Kazakhstan on September 1. 280,000 of them are first year pupils aged 7. Kazakhstan has 8,009 secondary schools, of which 79 opened for the first time this year. Seventy percent of all secondary schools in Kazakhstan are situated in rural areas. The ceremonial opening of a Kazakh school in Astana, the new capital, also took place on 1 September.
KAZAKH DEFENSE MINISTER CLARIFIES RATIONALE FOR RESERVE CALL-UP.
Kazakhstan's Defense Minister General Sat Toqpaqpaev told RFE/RL on 1 September that an ITAR-TASS report on calling up reserve officers is "far from truth." Toqpaqpaev said the decision to call up reserve officers to the Kazakh Army was prompted by the lack of officers in the Kazakh Army and has nothing to do with events in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, where clashes between state military forces and Islamic militants have been reported since August 11. ITAR-TASS had suggested a direct link between the ongoing fighting and the mobilization of officers from the reserve.
LEADER OF THE WORLD'S ISMAILIS VISITS ASTANA.
The leader of the world Ismaili community, Doctor Kareem Aga-Khan, visited Astana and held talks with President Nursultan Nazarbaev on August 31. At a subsequent press conference, Nazarbaev said that the Aga-Khan agreed to allocate $5 million for establishing branches of the Central Asian University in Astana and Almaty. The University center will be in the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan. In all, $15 million will be spent by the Aga-Khan Foundation on establishing the University.
The Aga-Khan told RFE/RL correspondents: "...It is three countries, it is Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, and what we looked at, what I would call, a catchment area, ... is an area, ...a geographic area, in which you seek to bring something to the population. And these countries represent the most important catchment area to high mountains population of Central Asia. The agreement does not impede other countries to join the University later on, if they choose to do so. And indeed the education will certainly be applicable to the high mountains areas of Afghanistan, the high mountains areas of North West Pakistan., high mountains area of Western China, the high mountains area of Iran, so the education will be applicable to the big catchment area of high mountains."
KAZAKH EMBASSY IN MOSCOW MARKED THE 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF KAZAKH CONSTITUTION.
On August 30, the Kazakh Embassy in Moscow marked the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of Kazakhstan. Ambassador Tair Mansurov told journalists that Kazakh-Russian relations recently became more dynamic, noting that in all, more than 140 agreements and other documents have been signed by Moscow and Astana since last year. He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Astana on October 8-9.
KAZAKH PRESIDENT VISITED NEW CONSTRUCTION OBJECTS ALONG ESIL RIVER IN ASTANA.
President Nazarbaev visited buildings under construction, including a diplomatic campus, apartments and state offices, on the banks of the Esil river in Astana on August 30. Most of those buildings are the work of Turkish construction companies.
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS TO BE DISCUSSED AT ROUND TABLE.
Eric Collins of the OSCE office in Almaty told RFE/RL on 31 August that the OSCE will organize a round table seminar on September 2 in Astana to discuss the outcome of the October 1999 parliamentary elections and human rights issues. Collins said as many NGOs and political parties as possible will be invited to attend the seminar. The parliamentary elections were harshly criticized by the OSCE and other international organizations for numerous violations of international standards and local laws.
KAZAKHSTAN MARKS CONSTITUTION DAY.
The fifth anniversary of the adoption of Kazakhstan's Constitution was officially marked on 30 August in Astana and Almaty. In the capital, President Nazarbaev took part in a mass gathering devoted to the event and conveyed his congratulations to the population. In a short interview with RFE/RL, the Kazakh President said: "I congratulate all RFE/RL listeners on the occasion of one of the most important events in Kazakhstan's history, the fifth anniversary of the Constitution. Even every family and every small group of people has to have some rules and regulations to live in accordance with. So every society, every family also has to have only one leader. If every member of society considers himself a leader there will be chaos and disorder..."
The Kazakh Constitution was adopted through a referendum called by Nazarbaev in 1995. The same year, Nazarbaev held a second referendum, through which he prolonged his presidential term till December 2000. But in October 1998, the Kazakh Constitution was drastically changed by the Kazakh Parliament in just half an hour, giving the Kazakh President even wider powers and privileges. In January 1999, Nazarbaev was re-elected as President till 2006 in pre-term presidential elections harshly criticized by the OSCE and other international organizations for widespread violations and fraud.
PRESIDENT NAZARBAEV TO ATTEND UN MILLENNIUM SUMMIT.
Unnamed sources within the Kazakh Presidential Office told RFE/RL on 30 August that President Nazarbaev is planning to take part in the UN Millennium Summit in New York in early September. The same sources said that the national dialogue between Kazakh officials and opposition leaders scheduled for 31 August will not be held on that date. According to the Presidential Office, Kazakh opposition parties aligned in the Forum of Democratic Forces of Kazakhstan refused to take part in the dialogue. The idea of the national dialogue was put forward by the leader of Kazakhstan's Democratic People party, former Kazakh Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin, last November.
The Chief of Republican People Party's Executive Committee, Ghaziz Aldamzharov, told RFE/RL that the Kazakh opposition refused to take part in the Dialogue because no special agenda had ever been drawn up for it, nor was it clear whether Naarbaev would participate. In addition, no safety guarantees had been given for Kazhegeldin, who intended to take part in the Dialogue. Kazhegeldin currently lives in self-imposed exile in Europe.
RFE/RL correspondents report that President Nazarbaev will travel to the U.S. with new promises to give full support to the Washington-backed Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project for transporting Caspian oil to international markets. But Nurlan Balghymbaev, President of the state oil company KazakhOil, will not accompany Nazarbaev to the U.S. The president of KazakhTransOil, Nazarbaev's son-in-law Timur Kulibaev, will go with him instead.
RFE/RL correspondents say that Balghymbaev's absence may be due to the need to avoid by his possible interrogation by U.S. Justice Department, which is investigating the possible involvement of President Nazarbaev and former Premiers Akezhan Kazhegeldin and Nurlan Balghymbaev in oil money laundering. Nazarbaev enjoys presidential immunity, while Balghymbaev has no such immunity and could be interrogated by U.S. investigators.
KAZAKH PREMIER HELD TALKS WITH BRITISH AND JAPANESE BUSINESSMEN.
Kazakhstan's Premier Qasymzhomart Toqayev met top officials from British Petroleum and Mitsui (Japan) on August 29 to discuss possible investments in the Kazakh economy.
U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY IN ASTANA.
A U.S. delegation led by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson held talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev on August 29. The main issues discussed were joint efforts to avoid pollution of the Caspian Sea, organizing joint exercises on oil and gas production with participation of all of the Caspian states, and U.S. assistance in the technical development of the port of Aqtau.
Richardson said after his talks with Nazazbaev: "We think Kazakhstan is a very important partner of the United States, and our relationship is not just energy. It is trade, it is security, and we want to expand that relationship... And that is the reason for our high level visits to Kazakhstan. I am very pleased with the results we have achieved on nonproliferation issues. I am very pleased with the energy cooperation we had... especially with Baku-Ceyhan objectives.. Across the board we are very pleased with the important role that Kazakhstan is taking on regional issues..."
Also on 29 August, Premier Qasymzhomart Toqayev held talks with David O'Rally of Chevron on Chevron's operations in western Kazakhstan and its planned purchase from the Kazakh government of a further 5 percent of the shares in the joint Kazakh - American Tengizchevroil joint venture. An agreement finalizing that sale was signed later the same day by Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov and Nick Zana, director of Chevron Overseas (Eurasia). Akhmetov told journalists after the signing ceremony that the sale of 5 per cent of Kazakhstan's shares in Tengizchevroil was a very important event for Kazakhstan's economy. He added that sale price was $660 million, $450 million in cash and the remaining $210 million in funding for development programs.
John Wolf, the U.S. special adviser on Caspian issues and Richard Jones, the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan also attended the signing ceremony.
ALMATY CITY ADMINISTRATION MARKS 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF KAZAKHSTAN'S CONSTITUTION.
Almaty City Mayor Viktor Khrapunov marked the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Kazakh Constitution on 30 August by presenting keys to new apartments in the city to 35 Kazakh families repatriated from China and Mongolia. Some of those families had been waiting for up to 10 years for housing.
MEDEU DISTRICT COURT FOUND SEMIRECHIYE COSSACKS' LEADER NOT GUILTY.
The Medeu District Court in Almaty heard the case of Vladimir Ovsiyannikov, leader of the Semirechiye Cossacks, on August 29. The Court found Ovsiyannikov not guilty. Major Vitalii Lednev of the Almaty Police had accused Ovsiyannikov of not allowing police to survey a session of the Cossacks Organization in Almaty on August 6.