22 September 2000
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON REGIONAL SECURITY HELD IN ALMATY.
An international conference on security in Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region took place in Almaty on 22 September. The conference was jointly organized by the Kazakh Presidential Institute of Strategic Research and the Stockholm Institute of International Peace. Domestic and foreign experts took part in the conference, as did the chairman of the CIS Customs Union Integration Committee, Nighmetzhan Isingharin, the Chief of the Kazakh State Agency of Strategic Planning, Qayrat Kelimbetov, and representatives of several Kazakh Ministries and officials of the OSCE Office in Almaty.
The Director of Kazakhstan's Strategic Researches Institute, Maulen Ashimbaev, told RFE/RL that the main issue discussed at the conference was strengthening regional security in Central Asia and the Caspian region. Geopolitical issues were also discussed. According to Gennadii Shufrin, the Director of Stockholm Institute of International Peace, the most important thing for preserving Caspian ecology is to define Caspian Sea's legal status as soon as possible.
Speaking to RFE/RL, Ashimbaev also expressed his negative attitude to the phrase "religious extremism". According to Ashimbaev, religion and extremism are two entirely different things. He said that the recent events in Surkhandaria, Uzbekistan, and Batken, Kyrgyzstan had nothing to do with religion. All those events were caused by interests connected with drug trafficking or politics, Ashimbaev said.
REPATRIATES DAY MARKED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Kazakhstan marked Repatriates Day on September 21 with a special concert at the Mukhtar Auezov Drama Theater in Almaty for thousands of Kazakh repatriates now living in the former Kazakh capital. Kazakhstan launched a special program to attract ethnic Kazakhs from Afghanistan, China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Mongolia, and other countries to Kazakhstan after gaining independence in 1991. Kazakh repatriates face considerable social and economic problems in Kazakhstan.
PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ON RUSSIAN-KAZAKH TALKS.
Zharmakhan Tuyaqbaev, chairman of the Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber (the Mazhilis), held a press conference in Astana on 22 September at which he briefed journalists on the results of talks between a Kazakh Parliament delegation and Russian State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev in Moscow earlier this week. Tuyaqbaev said a wide range of matters was discussed. He also said that the mass emigration of ethnic Russians from Kazakhstan in the last couple of years has nothing to do with "so-called discriminatory policy of Kazakh government." He attributed that belief to incorrect media reporting.
BUDGET ALLOCATIONS FOR THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR ANNOUNCED.
The Press Service of Kazakh State Commission on Budget Allocations reported on September 22 that the state budget for 2001 has been fully defined. Allocations for national security and defense, especially for border guarding have been increased significantly.
TODAY IS LANGUAGES DAY IN KAZAKHSTAN.
"Languages Day" was celebrated in Astana on 22 September for the fourth consecutive year.
KAZAKH PARLIAMENT COMMITTEE ON SOCIETY DEVELOPMENT STARTS DISCUSSING DRAFT LAW OF SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP.
The Social Development Committee of the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament started discussing the draft law on Social Partnership on September 21. Minister of Labour and Social Protection Alikhan Baimenov told RFE/RL that the main aim of the new law is to regularize relations between trade unions, employers and the government.
KAZAKH TRANSPORTS AND COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE.
Karim Massimov briefed journalists at the National Press Club in Astana on September 20 on the results of the Second International Transportation Conference in Saint Petersburg last week. The main issue discussed at the conference, said Massimov, was the creation of a joint transportation system across Eurasia. He said that China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Iran would be involved in the joint construction of new rail roads and other communications. The new joint transportation system will allow Kazakhstan to connect Caspian Sea area with Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.
OSCE OFFICE IN ALMATY MARKS 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ORGANIZATION.
The OSCE office in Almaty marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of the (then) CSCE on September 21. At a gathering at the Kazakh National State University, OSCE representatives gave information about the programs the organization is implementing in Kazakhstan. It was mentioned at the meeting that the OSCE is assisting Kazakh law makers in preparing amendments to Kazakhstan's Election Law.
PRINCE DMITRII ROMANOV VISITS ALMATY.
Prince Dmitriy Romanov, 74, a successor of the Russian Tsarist family, visited Almaty on September 21 and on behalf of the Romanov Foundation presented special equipment to the Kazakh Center for Assistance to Deaf Children. Roza Suleymenova, the head of the Center, told journalists that the Romanov Foundation is also planning to help children in other countries that are former subjects of Russian Empire.
KAZAKH INTERIOR AFFAIRS MINISTER HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Interior Minister Qayirbek Suleymenov told journalists in Astana on 20 September that he traveled from Shymkent city to Astana this week in a truck loaded with water melons, pretending he was an ordinary trader. He said the truck driver had to pay bribes 36 times en route. The total amount given in bribes was 32, 200 Tenges ($226), of which 21 bribes were paid to officers of the Kazakh automobile roads service, 8 to customs officers, and 7 to transport inspectors. The bribes ranged from 200 to 4,000 Tenges. Suleymenov said that the handing over of each individual bribe had been filmed by hidden cameras and tape recorders.
25 KAZAKHSTANI CITIZENS PLANNED TO EMIGRATE TO U.S. ILLEGALLY.
Talghat Kerimtaev of the National Security Committee Department in Almaty told journalists on 20 September that 25 citizens of Kazakhstan intended to leave for the United States using forged documents. Two former sportsmen from Kazakhstan (Gorskii and Semenov) employed by the ATL Group travel agency in Almaty had learned about the ice hockey championship in New York via the Internet, and asked the official organizers of the championship about the possible participation of Kazakh hockey players in that contest. After they had received a positive response, a group of 25 potential illegal emigrants to U.S. was formed. They were listed as hockey players, although had nothing to do with hockey. Two organizers of the illegal trip are now under arrest.
KAZAKH PREMIER MET WITH VICE CHAIRMAN OF WORLD CUSTOMS UNION.
Kazakh Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev met with Leonid Lazbenko, the Vice Chairman of World's Customs Union, on September 20 and stated Kazakhstan's desire to participate fully in all WCU programs.
LEADER OF RESPUBLIKA-2000 FOUNDATION BEATEN.
On September 15 well known Kazakh politician Lira Bayseitova, the Chairwoman of the Respublika -2000 Foundation, was severely beaten in the corridor of her apartment block. Sharip Quraqpaev, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Respublika," told RFE/RL that the attack was politically motivated. He said an unknown person stopped Bayseitova in the corridor on her way home from a store, and hit her saying "Stop touching Kapparov!" Then the attacker started beating Lira Bayseitova until she lost consiousness. Bayseitova was hospitalized the same day. Nurlan Kapparov, who is Kazakhstan's Deputy Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry, and a former chairman of KazakhOil Company, was criticized in "Respublika" several times since it began publication four months ago.
BRITISH COUNCIL ORGANIZING ANTI-DRUGS AND ANTI-AIDS FESTIVAL.
Anti-Drugs and anti-AIDS festival called "New Generation - New Life" and organized by the British Council will open on September 21 and last until February 2001. Events will include a rock concert at a juvenile penitentiary in Almaty Oblast.
KAZAKH PRESIDENT STARTS VACATION.
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev began his vacation on 18 September, his press service reported the following day without stating Nazarbaev's vacation destination. Unnamed sources in Presidential Office say Nazarbaev is vacationing abroad.
KAZAKH CABINET MEETS.
Meeting in Astana on 19 September, cabinet members discussed private businesses in Aqmola and North Kazakhstan Oblasts. Prime Minister Toqaev told ministers that President Nazarbaev has decreed the creation of 32,000 new jobs by the end of this year in order to reduce unemployment. Deputy Minister of Trade, Energy and Industry Peter Nefedov said that many industrial enterprises privatized by foreign and local private companies are facing huge problems. The governor of Aqmola Oblast, Sergei Kulagin, said that the situation in Aqmola Oblast is similar. Minister of Labor and Social Protection Alikhan Baimenov told the session that the minimum monthly pension will be raised next year to 3,955 tenges ($28).
Also discussed was the water shortage in South Kazakhstan as a result of the refusal of neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to supply Kazakhstan with irrigation water. That shortage has led to a shortfall in the cotton harvest. But Deputy Premier Daniyal Akhmetov said Kazakhstan may succeed in abolishing its dependence on those countries for water supplies in future.
The Kazakh Ministry of State Revenues unveiled its plan to organize a seminar on the privatization of small businesses on September 22-25.
The cabinet session also discussed the country's stockmarket behind closed doors.
INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION CONFERENCE OPENS IN ALMATY.
The First International Conference of Civil Aviation opened in Almaty on 19 September. Aviation experts from 20 countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and Turkey, will discuss joint cooperation between the airlines of those states. Nurtileu Essenqozhanov, the Chief of the Semey Air Company, told RFE/RL that one of the main issues is the necessity to establish centralized control over all the air cargo operations in the country, adding that the situation is extremely complicated due to the increasing number of private air companies operating in the sector.
SECOND ANTHRAX DEATH REPORTED.
A 34-year-old woman cleaner at Shymkent central market died of intestinal anthrax in Shymkent City Infections Hospital on 17 September. It is the second fatal case of anthrax in Kazakhstan this year. The head of the Shymkent Sanitary Control Agency told RFE/RL that the woman sought medical assistance too late, on September 16, after having contracted the disease on 4 September. All butchers' stores in the area have been temporarily closed.
JAPANESE FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS KAZAKHSTAN.
Kazakhstan's Prime Qasymzhomart Toqaev met on 15 September in Astana with a Japanese delegation headed by Kadzuhiko Togo, the chairman of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Committee on Affairs in Europe and the Pacific. Toqaev recalled his meeting with Togo in Tokyo last year, when Toqaev was still Foreign Minister. Togo said that he had been impressed by the "fast construction work in the new capital of Kazakhstan," and expressed the hope that a Japanese Embassy will open in Astana in the near future to replace the present embassy in Almaty. The two sides also discussed further bilateral economic cooperation.
PREMIERS OF CUSTOMS UNION STATES TO MEET IN ASTANA ON OCTOBER 6.
The Premiers of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation and Tajikistan are scheduled to hold talks in Astana on October 6, the Kazakh Cabinet's Press Service told RFE/RL on 15 September. The main issue to be discussed will be the further deepening of integration between those five countries. Toqaev discussed the agenda for the meeting earlier this week with Nigmetzhan Isingharin, the chairman of Customs Union Integration Committee.
FIRE DESTROYED 200 HECTARES OF FOREST IN PAVLODAR OBLAST.
KODA News Agency reported on 15 September that 200 hectares of land in Pavlodar Oblast in north Kazakhstan were destroyed by fire. The blaze was caused by the mishandling of a tractor on a private farm on September 13, and was extinguished only after two days.
PRESIDENT NAZARBAEV VISITS QOSTANAY OBLAST.
President Nazarbaev met with staff and students of Qostanay State University on 15 September, Rector Zulkarnai Aldamzharov told RFE/RL. Nazarbaev also attended the unveiling of a monument to Akhmet Baytursunov, a prominent Kazakh scholar and politician who was shot by the Soviets in 1930s.
KAZAKH GYNECOLOGISTS' HIGHLIGHT ECOLOGICAL DAMAGE.
Speaking to RFE/RL correspondents on the sidelines of a national congress of gynecologists in Almaty on15 September, Dr. Bibizhar Qauymbetova from Qyzyl-Orda region said that the health of women in the region is deteriorating as a result of environmental problems caused by the shrinking of Aral Sea and the Baikonur Space Complex. Another congress participant, the head of the Health Protection Department of Pavlodar Oblast, Imanghazy Nurzhigit, told RFE/RL that the mortality rate among pregnant women and women in general in rural areas of North Kazakhstan is increasing. According to Senator Nina Qayupova, one of the organizers of the Congress, the government and society should pay more attention to the problems of women and children. She estimated the number of gynecologists in Kazakhstan at 4,000.
NEWS FROM THE SOUTH.
On September 15, the border guarding point in Sary�Aghash district marks its first anniversary. The point was established a year ago, after neighboring Uzbekistan started delimitation works along the Kazakh-Uzbek border without preliminary consultations with the Kazakh side.
A new market started working along Kazakh-Uzbek border this week. Local media estimate that trade turnover will reach $2 million per month. The market is tax free, employs 3,000 people, and cost $500,000 to establish.
KAZAKH DISSIDENT SUMMONED TO POLICE.
Kazakh dissident Karishal Assanov was taken by force from his apartment in Almaty on 15 September by a group of police officers who declined to give any reason for his detention or provide any documentary authorization. He was taken to a local police station for interrogation but released after three hours. The editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Soldat," Ermurat Bapi, told RFE/RL that Assanov's detention may have been caused an article he published in "SDoldat" earlier this year criticizing President Nazarbaev.
TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL HOLDS SEMINAR IN ALMATY.
On September 14, the Kazakhstan office of Transparency International held a seminar on corruption in Kazakhstan and other CIS countries at the Press Club in Almaty. According to the organization's chairwoman, Zhanar Zhandosova, this year Kazakhstan occupied 65th place in the list of the world's most corrupt countries. Last year, Kazakhstan was in 85th place, which suggests that the situation in Kazakhstan is improving.
ALMATY OBLAST DELEGATION LEAVES FOR TURKEY.
A delegation of Almaty Oblast's Migration and Demography Department left for Turkey on 14 September to select 46 families of ethnic Kazakhs in Turkey who wish to resettle permanently in Kazakhstan. Department Chairman Ziyadin Mynbaev told RFE/RL that the Kazakh government has allocated about 1 billion Tenges ($1 equals 142 Tenges) for assistance to repatriates this year.
NEW JUSTICE MINISTER APPOINTED.
President Nazarbaev issued a decree on 14 September appointing Igor Rogov as Kazakh Minister of Justice. Former Justice Minister Baurzhan Mukhametzhanov will transfer to work in the Presidential Office.
OFFICIAL OPENING OF CENTRAZBAT-2000 MANEUVERS HELD IN ALMATY OBLAST.
The opening ceremony of the Centrazbat-2000 military maneuvers took place at the Ile test range in Almaty Oblast on 13 September in the presence of military attaches from all countries whose troops are participating. Some 2,000 troops from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Mongolia, Russia, Turkey and the United States are take part in the exercises. Kazakhstan's Defense Minister Major-General Sat Toqpaqpaev read an address to participants from President Nazarbaev. Toqpaqpaev stressed that the Centrazbat-2000 maneuvers are not connected with events in Batken, Kyrgyzstan and those in Surkhandaria, Uzbekistan, where clashes between anti-Karimov insurgents and government troops have been reported since August 11.
On 14 September, a conference entitled "The 21st Century and Security in Central Asia" opened in Almaty. Military experts from the countries represented at the war games are taking part.
On 13 September, a U.S. military delegation led by U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Henry Shelton met with President Nazarbaev in Astana to discuss the further development of Kazakh-U.S. military cooperation, Kazakhstan's new strategic plans, regional security and reform of the Kazakh armed forces. General Shelton expressed his condolences to the relatives of Kyrgyz solders who died in Kyrgyzstan's Batken Oblast during the clashes between armored insurgents and Kyrgyz regular troops in August.
The maneuvers ended on 18 September with a ceremony at which Toqpaqpaev congratulated all the participants on "the accomplishment of a most important and useful mission."
ASSOCIATION OF SOCIOLOGISTS AND POLITICAL SCIENTISTS MARKS FIFTH ANNIVERSARY.
Speaking at a press conference at the Press Club in Almaty on September 13, the chairwoman of the Association of Kazakhstani Sociologists and Political Scientists, Bakhytzhamal Bekturganova, said that the main goals of her organization are to help citizens of Kazakhstan to create an open society and to make all the operations of the government really transparent and available for the ordinary citizens of the country. Mels Eleusizov, who is chairman of the Tabighat (Nature) Party, told RFE/RL that the Association of Kazakhstani Sociologists and Political Scientists has managed to focus society's attention on the issue of women's rights. He highly evaluated the Association's activities, adding that the organization is one of the most independent and necessary in Kazakhstan. The chairman of the Orleu movement, Seydakhmet Quttyqadam, told RFE/RL that the Association could be compared with a physician curing contemporary society in Kazakhstan.
COTTON HARVEST STARTS IN SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that cotton harvest got underway in South Kazakhstan Oblast this week. It is expected that the average harvest will be about 1,500 kilograms of cotton per hectare, compared with 1,770 kilograms last year. The worst recorded harvest during the Soviet period was 2,500 kilogram per hectare. The total harvest this year is estimated at only 230,000 tons because of the water shortage (see above). The head of South Kazakhstan Oblast's Agriculture Department, Kenes Alpysbaev, told RFE/RL that all the cotton will be picked manually this year due to the abrupt, rise in gasoline prices.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF 21 CENTURY NEWSPAPER AGAIN ON TRIAL.
On September 13 Bigeldy Gabdullin, the editor-in-Chief of the newspaper "21 VEK" (21 Century), went on trial at Almaly district Court in Almaty. Gabdullin was sued by a private company called Sakharniy Tsentr for "publication of false data on Sakharniy Tsentr's activities." Sakharniy Tsentr is controlled by President Nazarbaev's son-in-law Rakhat Aliev. Bigeldy Gabdullin wrote last year that Sakharniy Tsentr had tried to "persuade him to sell 20 per cent of his newspaper's shares." Sakharniy Tsentr Company denies having done so and is demanding 20 million Tenges ($104,000) as compensation for moral damages.
ARMENIAN EMBASSY IN ALMATY OPENS ART EXHIBITION ON EVE OF ARMENIA'S INDEPENDENCE DAY.
The First Secretary of the Armenian Embassy in Kazakhstan, Yurii Petrosian, told RFE/RL that a special art exhibition called "From Alatau to Ararat" will open on September 14 in the Embassy's building to mark Armenia's Independence Day on September 21. Petrosian said the exhibition will include works by classical artists such as Ayvazovski, Sarian and others, as well as works by Armenians living in Kazakhstan.
MOTHERS OF SCHOOLCHILDREN PICKETED SHYMKENT MAYOR'S OFFICE.
On September 11, dozens of women picketed the office of the Shymkent City Mayor to demand that the city authorities open a secondary school in the city's Samal district. Samal district is one of the newest districts of Shymkent and schoolchildren of the district have to travel 2-3 kilometers every day to attend schools in the older districts of the city. Deputy Shymkent Mayor Sultanbek Sugirbaev promised the women that construction of a new school in Samal will begin in the nearest future.
SITUATION AT KAZAKHSTAN'S DETENTION CENTERS DISCUSSED.
The situation in Kazakhstan's SiZOs (pre-trial detention centers) was discussed at special seminar in Almaty on 10 September. The seminar was organized by human rights organizations and the Kazakh Justice Ministry. Participants said that the former Soviet system created by Stalin still functions in the penitentiary system of independent Kazakhstan, where 20-30 suspected persons, who have not been found guilty by a Court are kept in tiny cells for only a few prisoners -- a practice the participants compared to torture. It was also recommended that jails for detainees should be administered by the Justice Ministry and not by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
ISRAELI DELEGATION IN ASTANA.
An Israeli parliament delegation led by Knesset Vice Chairwoman Julia Edelstein arrived in Astana on 10 September and held talks the following day with a group of Kazakh Parliament deputies led by Zharmakhan Tuyaqbaev, the chairman of the Lower Chamber (Mazhilis). Inter-Parliamentary cooperation and the situation in drafting legislation in the two countries was discussed. The Knesset's Committee for Israeli-Kazakhstani Friendship and Cooperation was established in 1992. Since then, about 20 agreements and treaties on mutual cooperation have been signed by Tel-Aviv and Astana.