1 December 2000
STANDOFF BETWEEN PAST, PRESENT DIRECTORS OF SHYMKENT OIL REFINERY.
Marlo Thomas of Canadian Hurricane Hydrocarbons Company managed to reoccupy the office of Shymkent Oil Refinery Director on 30 November after Nurlan Bizakov, who had been sacked by the Hurricane Hydrocarbon's management as director of the refinery, entered his former office by force with local police assistance earlier that day. The stand-off between Bizakov and the Canadian Company started earlier this year after Nurlan Bizakov was ousted from his position. Hurricane Hydrocarbons owns the refinery. South Kazakhstan Oblast's Prosecutor General Ilias Bakhtybaev told RFE/RL that there are no official complaints or any other documents confirming that Bizakov's former office has again been occupied by Mr. Thomas. He noted that Astana City Court has ruled that Bizakov's dismissal was illegal.
AMIRZHAN QOSANOV WILL NOT BE ABLE TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY FOR FIVE YEARS.
Amirzhan Qosanov, who is deputy chairman of the Executive Committee of the Republican People Party of Kazakhstan, has been barred from leaving Kazakhstan for five years, Kazakh news agencies reported. Qosanov told RFE/RL on 1 December that he learned about that decision by the Almaty Migration Police from the media, adding he has not yet received any official notification of the ban. Qosanov was stripped of his travel documents without any explanation at Almaty airport on 25 November when trying to leave for London.
According to some news agencies, the Almaty City Migration Police decision not to allow Amirzhan Qosanov to leave the country was based on the law adopted by the Kazakh Parliament last year barring persons in possession of state secrets from leaving Kazakhstan for five years. Qosanov denies, however, that he had access to state secrets while working as the Kazakh Cabinet's press secretary three years ago. He also points out that he has been abroad more than 30 times since resigning from that position. Qosanov believes the decision to confiscate his passport for foreign travel was politically motivated.
RUSSIAN PROTON-K ROCKET LAUNCHES U.S. SATELLITE INTO ORBIT.
Kazakhstan Today News Agency reported on 1 December that a Russian PROTON-K rocket was launched from the Baikonur Space Complex early that morning. The rocket brought a U.S. Sirius satellite into orbit.
MORE OPPOSITION PROTESTS AGAINST DRAFT LAW ON LAND.
Hundreds of representatives of Kazakh opposition parties and NGOs staged a protest demonstration in Almaty on 30 November against the Draft Law on Land adopted by the Lower Chamber of the Kazakh Parliament (Mazhilis) on November 16. Dauren Satybaldiev, chairman of the Zhangyru Centre, read an open letter to the Senate (the parliament Upper Chamber) signed by several political parties and NGOs. The senate is expected to start discussing the draft law on land shortly. The letter demands that the opposition's alternative draft law be taken into account during the Senate discussion of the bill, which has still not been published for nation-wide discussion. Although the protest had not been sanctioned by the Almaty City authorities, local police did not intervene.
One day earlier, representatives of the Communist Party, Patriots Party, Alash Party, Zher-Ana Staff, Zhangyru National Revival Centre, Workers movement and other political organisations had convened a press conference in Almaty at which they demanded the withdrawal of the draft land law sent to Senate (the Upper House of the Parliament) by the Mazhilis (Parliament's Lower House) earlier this month. They demanded a nationwide discussion and referendum on the draft law, stressing their opposition to the privatization of land (see also below).
CIS CONSULTING COUNCIL MEETING IN ASTANA.
The CIS Consulting Council held a special meeting in Astana on 30 November to discuss social protection, employment, migration and labour for CIS citizens. Ministers of Labour and Social Protection and their deputies from Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus and Kazakhstan participated.
FINANCE MINISTRY COMMITTEE ON STATE BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS EMBEZZLEMENT.
It was reported at a 30 November press conference in Astana convened by the Kazakh Finance Ministry's Committee on State Budget Control that a total of some 8 billion Tenges ($55.5 million) has been misused or stolen this year. Of that sum, 2.4 billion Tenges were stolen, 1.8 billion Tenges were misused and about 1 billion Tenges were not shown in any documents or declarations. No names of any companies or any individuals were mentioned in connection with those losses.
KAZAKH MAZHILIS POSTPONES DISCUSSING AMENDMENTS TO SOME LAWS.
The Mazhilis (Lower House of the Kazakh Parliament) on 29 November decided to postpone discussing possible amendments to the Law on Taxes and that on regional self-government. Those amendments had been prepared and approved by Mazhilis Committees earlier this month. Mazhilis deputy Isakhan Alimzhanov called on his fellow deputies to pay special attention to the amendment proposed for the Tax law, noting that the definition of the state funds characterizes all the funds in Kazakhstan as state-owned, except those established by the President. After discussions, it was decided to postpone the discussion of those amendments.
ALMATY FINANCIAL TRADE BANK HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Officials of the Almaty Financial Trade Bank said at a press conference in Almaty on November 29 that the bank's capital has grown from 1.7 billion tenges in 1996, one year after the bank's foundation, to 17.8 billion Tenges. Ita annual profits are about 500 million Tenges.
FIRST CLUB OF ARTS PATRONS ESTABLISHED IN KAZAKHSTAN.
Seven business tycoons held a press conference at the National Press Club in Almaty on 28 November to announce the establishment of the first Club of Arts Patrons. The seven are Bulat Abilov (President of BUTYA Company and a Kazakh Parliament deputy), Nurzhan Subkhanberdin (President of Kazkommertzbank), Nurlan Smagulov (founder of Astana-Motors Company), Raimbek Battalov (President of Raimbek Company), Abilmazhin Gelimov (President of Nurbank), Aleksander Krinichanski (Director of Air Kazakhstan Company) and Margulan Seysenbaev (President of SEMAR Company). They also announced the club's TARLAN - 2000 program for the most prominent scholars, actors, artists and other representatives of the intelligentsia. The first award will consist of $10,000 cash and a special platinum-made figure of Tarlan (the leading horse in Kazakh traditional horse races). The club will also give two smaller awards of $3,000 each.
WORKERS' MOVEMENT OPPOSES PROPOSED AMNESTY ON ILLEGAL EXPORT OF CAPITAL.
The Workers' Movement of Kazakhstan held a press conference in Almaty on November 28 at which its leaders expressed their negative attitude to the proposed amnesty, recently discussed by the cabinet, for capital illegally transferred from Kazakhstan to foreign bank accounts. According to that proposal, all hard currency taken out of Kazakhstan illegally and accumulated in Swiss and other banks should be brought back to Kazakhstan without any investigations. All persons involved in such illict transfers would be amnestied automatically.
Workers' Movement leader Madel Ismailov told RFE/RL that Kazakh officials are trying to exonerate themselves before bringing all "the stolen money back to Kazakhstan." Earlier this year some Western periodicals published articles about corruption and bribery among the upper level of the Kazakh leadership, including President Nursultan Nazarbaev.
REPRESENTATIVES OF ORGANISATIONS UNITING HANDICAPPED CITIZENS OF ALMATY HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Leaders and activists of several organisations representing handicapped citizens of the former Kazakh capital, including the Union of the Blind, the Union of Crippled Veterans of the War in Afghanistan, the Veterans of Chernobyl and the Crippled Children's Union, gathered at the National Press Club in Almaty on November 28. They demanded that the national and Almaty city authorities pay attention to their needs and problems. Economic hardships faced by the country made life of the handicapped citizens even more miserable. They are not able to pay off their debts for housing utilities and suffer from the lack of free medical care.
KAZAKH NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Marat Tazhin, Secretary of Kazakhstan's National Security Council and Presidential National Security Advisor, told a press conference in Astana on 24 November that President Nursultan Nazarbaev chaired a session of the Kazakh National Security Council earlier the same day that focussed primarily on the situation in Central Asian region and Kazakhstan's southern borders. The ten-year program to strengthen national security was also discussed.
Tazhin said that after the incursions by fighters of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan into Kyrgyzstan's Batken and Uzbekistan's Surkhandariya regions earlier this year, it had been decided to outline a special program on state security. In accordance with that program and with the CIS Collective Security Treaty, Kazakhstan will be ready to assist its neighbours in operations against any sort of radical insurgents.
Tazhin enumerated the following measures taken to prevent the events similar to those in Batken and Surkhandariya: the establishment of the Southern Military Region; the opening of the Military Academy for army commanders; the creation of a new motor-infantry division #5; the opening of a new control point on the Kazakh-Turkmen border, and of several new border-guarding units along the Kazakh-Uzbek border; and preliminary preparations for switching the Kazakh Army to a contract-based system.
Tazhin also said that Kazakhstan had decided to leave the Bishkek treaty on non-visa travel. He added that special letters had been sent to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in order to introduce a migration card system for travelling across those countries. Kazakh youths leaving the country for religious studies abroad will be also thoroughly checked and controlled, Tazhin said.
He added that rumours that Kazakhstan is ready to allow the U.S. to launch a missile offensive against Osama Ben Laden's camps in Afghanistan from Kazakh territory are groundless.
PROBLEMS FACED BY INDEPENDENT ELECTRONIC MASS MEDIA DISCUSSED.
Hundreds of representatives of the electronic mass media from all over Kazakhstan gathered in Almaty on November 24 to discuss the situation of the mass media and the possible consequences of amendments to the Law on Mass Media proposed by the Kazakh Cabinet earlier last month. TV and radio journalists from Aqtobe, Qaraghandy, Semey (Semipalatinsk), Shymkent and other cities think that the amendment may create problems for them. According to the amendment, the volume of the foreign programs re-transmitted by Kazakhstani electronic mass media may not exceed 20 per cent of the total broadcast time.
Oleg Katsiev, who is Executive Director of Internews-Kazakhstan News Agency, said that TV channels would have to revise and restructure all their programs, which would be expensive. Mirbolat Khaleev of Aqtobe's RIKA-TV company, which uses16 hours of its daily broadcast time for re-transmission of Russia's NTV channel, said that it was too hard to find good movies in Kazakh for broadcasting. According to Alexander Zharkov from Qaraghandy, it is "almost impossible for him to find professional journalist writing and broadcasting in good Kazakh."
BOTANICAL SITUATION IN ALATAU PLANTS DISCUSSED.
Kazakhstan's Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology and the UN Development Program in Almaty convened a seminar on 24 November to assess the problems faced by the unique apple trees of the Ile Alatau and Jungar Alatau mountain ranges. The Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology told RFE/RL that the seminar's main objective was to outline a program on preserving the unique species of apple trees of South Kazakhstan. More than 170 species of apple trees can be found in Alatau mountains, of which 24 are not found anywhere else in the world.
PARLIAMENT DEPUTY DEMANDS PUBLICATION OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN KAZAKH GOVERNMENT AND TENGIZCHEVROIL.
Bolat Abilov, the well known business tycoon and owner of the BUTYA company, who is also a deputy of Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber (Mazhilis) sent a request to Kazakh Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev asking that details of the agreement signed by Kazakh government and Kazakh-American Joint Venture - Tengizchevroil be made public. After a lengthy debate, the Kazakh government sold a 5 percent stake in the Tengizchevroil joint venture to U.S. Chevron Overseas several months ago. Abilov told RFE/RL on November 23 that such agreements should be transparent and the details available to all Kazakhstan's citizens.
GOVERNMENT TO INCREASE ALLOCATIONS FOR RADIO-BROADCASTING SECTOR NEXT YEAR.
At its 23 November session the Kazakh Parliament voted to allocate 2.3 billion Tenges ($16 million) in financial support for radio-broadcasting sector in 2001. It was also mentioned at the session that the volume of radio programs in Kazakh has risen to 12 hours a day nationwide. Several years ago the total daily broadcasting was 50 hours.
AUTHOR OF BOOK "SHYMKENTSKAYA MAFIYA" ON TRIAL.
The trial of Temirtas Tleulesov, author of "Ordaly Zhylan" and "Shymkentskaya Mafiya," began in Shymkent, South Kazakhstan, on 23 November. Tleulesov is accused of publishing "false materials' in his books."Shymkentskaya Mafiya" contains materials on alleged corruption and criminal activities by officials in South Kazakhstan Oblast. Tleulesov told RFE/RL on 23 November that all the accusations against him are politically motivated. Tleulesov's son Arman was arrested earlier this week for "illegal felling of a tree near railway station #115 in the Tulkibas region of South Kazakhstan," thereby allegedly causing material damage estimated at 868 Tenges (less than $6). Tleulesov said he failed to get any official explanation for his son's arrest.
EXHIBITION DEVOTED TO CULTURE OF CHINA'S ETHNIC KAZAKHS OPENS IN ALMATY.
An exhibition devoted to the cultural life of ethnic Kazakhs living in China's Xin Jiang province, historically known as Eastern Turkistan, opened at Almaty's Central Museum on November 23. The exhibition was organised by Association of the World's Kazakhs. The Kazakh population of Xin Jiang is estimated at between 1.2 and 2 million.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ISLAM OPENS IN ALMATY.
An international seminar on Islam in the Current World, the first organized by Kazakh officials and organisations from Islamic countries, opened in Almaty on November 22. Kazakhstan's Mufti Absattar DerbisAliyev is among the participants, together with representatives of Islamic states, mainly from foreign embassies in Almaty, and experts from domestic and international organisations. The conference will address the history of Islam in Kazakhstan and its role in contemporary Kazakh society.
KAZAKH OFFICIAL DENIES THAT VICE-PREMIER ALEKSANDER PAVLOV FLED THE COUNTRY.
Some mass media in Kazakhstan have reported that Vice Premier Alexander Pavlov has either disappeared or fled to the Russian Federation after Kazakh Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev repeatedly refused to accept his voluntary resignation. Some unnamed sources said that Pavlov had been appointed as Director of the KazakhMys Company. Government press secretary Rasul Zhumaly told RFE/RL on November 22 that Pavlov had been on vacation since the end of October and will return to his office by the end of this month.
KAZAKH PREMIER HELD TALKS WITH VISITING MONGOLIAN DELEGATION.
Kazakh Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev met on 22 November with a visiting Mongolian delegation led by the Secretary of Mongolia's Security Council, Radvangiin Boldy. Boldy handed a letter written by Mongolia's Premier Nambaryn Enkhbayar to his Kazakh counterpart.
Marat Tazhin, Secretary of Kazakhstan's National Security Council, met with Boldy in Astana on 21 November to discuss regional security, further cooperation between Kazakhstan and Mongolia, and the problems faced by ethnic Kazakhs emigrating to Kazakhstan from Mongolia. Some 60,000 Kazakhs have settled in Kazakhstan from Mongolia in recent years. Boldy said that Mongolia is not just a part of South East Asia but also a part of Central Asia.
PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES UNEMPLOYMENT.
Kazakh Minister of Labour and Social Protection Alikhan Baymenov told Mazhilis deputies on November 22 that 290,000 citizens of Kazakhstan are officially registered as unemployed. RFE/RL correspondents say that the real number of unemployed may be at least three times that number.
PUBLICATION OF "NACHNEM S PONEDELNIKA" SUSPENDED.
Ramazan Esergepov, the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper "Nachnem s ponedel'nika," was summoned to Almaty's Bostandyq District Court on November 21 and informed that the court had suspended publication of the paper for three months. Esergepov told RFE/RL that the court's decision was officially motivated by the fact that the paper's editorial office had moved its premises too often. Esergepov said the reason why the editorial board keeps changing its address is to avoid possible attacks or harassment by government officials. On November 22, Esergepov was to go on trial for failing to pay a 50 million Tenges fine ($34,000). The newspaper had been found guilty of printing "false information about Kazakh Minister of Information Altynbek Sarsenbaev" earlier this year.
BELGIAN OFFICIALS EXPLAINED SITUATION AROUND KAZAKH CITIZENS ASKING FOR POLITICAL ASYLUM.
On November 21, Michael Chance of the International Organisation on Migration and Catherine Smith of the Belgian Foreign Ministry held a press conference in Almaty where they told journalists that the number of Kazakhstan's citizens who have asked for political asylum in Belgium is about 2,500. Mr. Chance said that many of those Kazakhstani citizens had travelled to Belgium through tourist companies in Almaty, adding that those companies had promised their clients to arrange permanent residence in Belgium. He said that there are no possibilities for illegal immigration to Belgium. Mrs Smith said in her turn that the governments of Belgium and Kazakhstan have recently signed an agreement whereby all Kazakhstani citizens who are refused political asylum in Belgium will be sent back to Kazakhstan within a few months.
ACTIVISTS PROTEST DRAFT LAW ON LAND.
On November 17 some 35-40 members of the Alash, Azat, Zher-Ana, Attan and other political movements and parties staged a protest in Almaty against the draft law on land adopted by the Kazakh Parliament the previous day. Orazali Salim, Chairman of Hunger Strike Committee, told RFE/RL that the number of the hunger strikers opposing the draft law has risen to nine, of whom three were on a so-called "dry hunger strike", which meant they were refusing even to drink. He also said that all the hunger strikers were "ready to die" for what he called a "proper solution of the problem." Serik Abdrakhmanov, one of the Parliament deputies who voted against the draft law, told RFE/RL in Astana that the draft law on land had been adopted in a hurry and that it was intended to benefit "some circles of the Kazakhstan's oligarchy."
PAVLODAR OIL REFINERY REREGISTERED AS A COMPANY WORKING IN PAVLODAR OBLAST.
The Pavlodar Oil Refinery was reregistered at Pavlodar Oblast's Justice Department on November 17. Until that day, the factory was working as a company registered in Almaty, and the main part of its profits used to go to Almaty's budget. As of November 17, Pavlodar Oil Refinery is officially registered as a property of Manghystau Munay Gaz Joint Stock Company. 49 per cent of Pavlodar Oil Refinery's shares belong to the Kazakh government, 51 per cent - to Manghystau Munay Gaz, according Kazakhstan Today News Agency.
PRESIDENT NAZARBAEV ENDS OFFICIAL VISIT TO LONDON.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev ended his official trip to London on November17 after meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Prime Minister Tony Blair on 16 November. President Nazarbaev also received the Order of the Knight of the Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George at Buckingham Palace. Additional meetings were held with British Oil executives and U.K. officials. According to unnamed sources, one of the main aims of Nazarbaev's visit to London was to find an opportunity for the president to make contact with former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, his main political rival, who has been living in Britain for more than two years. But Kazhegeldin's Press Secretary Igor Poberezhskii told RFE/RL on November 17 that Kazhegeldin is currently in the U.S.
KAZAKH PARLIAMENT'S LOWER CHAMBER ADOPTS DRAFT LAW ON LAND IN SECOND READING.
The Mazhilis-- the Kazakh Parliament's Lower Chamber--adopted the draft law on land in its second hearing on November 16. No major changes were added to the draft law prepared by the Kazakh government so far. A group of Parliament deupties including Ghany Qasymov, Valerian Zemlianov and Serik Abdrakhmanov voted against the draft law and demanded that it be revised and discussed more thoroughly.
SEMINAR ON LAKE BALKHASH.
A special three-day seminar devoted to the ecological situation in the region of Lake Balkhash began in Almaty on November 16. The seminar is organised by the Kazakh Ministry of Nature and Ecology and the Balkhash - 2000 Ecological Forum. Murat Musataev, who is Kazakhstan's Deputy Minister of Nature and Ecology, told RFE/RL that the main issue discussed at the seminar was the drastic ecological situation in the Balkhash region and the fall in the waterlevel of the lake. Musataev said the Kazakh government should have taken ecological problems into consideration when drafting the state budget for the next fiscal year.
COMMUNISTS IN ALMATY PROTEST CITY MAYOR'S DECISION TO CLOSE TWO MAJOR HOSPITALS.
Leaders of Kazakh Communist Party's Almaty Branch held a press conference on November 16 at which they demanded the annulment of the city administration's decision to close two major polyclinics in the former capital's Auezov and Almaly districts. According to Arseniy Opalinov, who heads the Kazakh Communist Party's Branch in Almaty, the two hospitals used to take care of more than 100,000 patients.
CHAIRMAN OF KAZAKHSTAN'S CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL DIED.
Yuriy Kim, Chairman of Kazakhstan's Constitutional Council, died on November 15. The cause of death is not known. Until 1998 Yuriy Kim served as chairman of Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission.