15 December 2000
SENATE COMMITTEE DISCUSSES DRAFT LAND LAW.
Members of the Committee on Regional Development and Self-Government of the Kazakh Parliament's Upper Chamber (Senate) on 15 December held a heated discussion of the draft law on land approved by Parliament's Lower Chamber (Mazhilis) earlier this month. Some senators harshly criticized the law's author, Bakhyt Ospanov, who is Chief of the State Agency on the Use of Land Resources. Sapabek Asip of an NGO called "Land and Destiny of the Kazakhs," who was invited to the discussion, criticised the law's authors, saying that the rights of those Kazakhs living in deserts and steppes of the country were not taken into account by those who had outlined the draft law. 70 per cent of the Kazakh territory is desert or steppes. Those areas are populated by ethnic Kazakhs. Some senators supported Asip, while others reminded their colleagues to "take into consideration the fact that the Kazakh President personally" had asked Senators to adopt the law as soon as possible.
JAILED CHAIR-WOMAN OF WORKERS MOVEMENT ON HUNGER STRIKE.
Irina Savostina, the Chairwoman of Kazakhstan's Pokoleniye Movement, told RFE/RL on December 15 that Sakhip Zhanabaeva, one of the leader of the Kazakhstan's Workers movement, is on hunger strike in her cell at Almaty's Bostandyq Police's jail. Zhanabaeva had been stopped by police last Wednesday [12 December] not far from the Academy of Sciences building and brought to Bostandyq District Court, where Judge Tatiyana Chernysh found her guilty of having taking part in a non-sanctioned mass gathering on November 30 and sentenced her to five days in jail. According to Savostina, Zhanabaeva was severely beaten by the police and has declared a hunger strike. Chernysh refused to comment on the situation by phone and asked RFE/RL to submit an official written request for her explanation of the sentence.
SITUATION IN KAZAKHSTAN DISCUSSED ON THE EVE OF INDEPENDENCE DAY.
On December 15, representatives of the Presidential Institute on Strategic Research and several political parties held a round table discussion at the National Press Club in Almaty organised by the Soros-Kazakhstan Foundation to discuss the political situation in Kazakhstan on the eve of the anniversary of the declaration (on 16 December 1991) of the republic's independence. The head of the Presidential Institute on Strategic Research, Borikhan Nurmukhametov, said that Kazakhstan had managed to reach real independence in many spheres since 1991. He cited in particular foreign policy, economic policy, and the introduction of a national currency. Meanwhile the Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan, Amirzhan Qosanov, said that independence in Kazakhstan could be defined as independence of the government from its own people. According to Qosanov, the parliament in Kazakhstan is not independent, and the judicial system is also under a single person's control. The leader of the Orleu movement, Seydakhmet Quttyqadam, agreed with Qosanov, observing that Kazakhstan could have achieved more if real independence, liberty and democracy had been established in the country.
PRESIDENT NAZARBAEV CRITICISES OPPOSITION.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev gave a two-hour interview on the evening of 13 December to Khabar TV Agency, which is headed by his daughter Darigha. In that interview, Nazarbaev told Khabar journalists that he has travelled extensively in Europe this year. He said he has signed several documents with EU leaders, as a result of which the volume of Kazakh goods exported to European countries will increase significantly.
Nazarbaev also said that the possible switch of the Kazakh language to the Latin alphabet is under discussion. He added that Kazakhstan will probably switch to the Latin alphabet in future, but the Cyrillic alphabet will continue to be used in parallel for time being. He also told journalists that Kazakh experts should prepare a Latin alphabet of their own, rather than copy those used by Turkey and Uzbekistan.
Nazarbaev said that the Islamic holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, or Oraza�Ait, will not marked on a nation-wide scale as a national holiday, nor will Turkistan City receive the special status of spiritual centre of the country.
The Kazakh leader also said that he has not and has never had any sort of accounts in foreign banks. He added that all the reports about his alleged property abroad are groundless. According to Nazarbaev, all the information published in "American newspapers" about his having bank accounts abroad are, as he said, "absurd," "similar to the absurd [allegations] about Kazakhstan having allowed U.S. troops to use its territory for missile attacks against Ben Laden's camps in Afghanistan, as some American newspaper has written."
Nazarbaev harshly criticised the well known Kazakh opposition politician Seydakhmet Quttyqadam, who, Nazarbaev said, has written an article about the distinguishing features of Kazakhs living in Northern and Southern Kazakhstan. According to President Nazarbaev, Seydakhmet Quttyqadam received "dirty money from Russian secret services in order to divide Kazakhs into clans and hordes." Nazarbaev even used a very vulgar word, describing Quttyqadam as a traitor of the Kazakh people and calling him "ongbaghan," which means "scoundrel" in Kazakh.
Quttyqadam told RFE/RL on December 14 that President Nazarbaev's interview had been specially prepared by his image- makers and his daughter Darigha. Quttyqadam said all the questions put to the president by Khabar's journalists were probably prepared beforehand. The main aim of the interview was to brainwash citizens of Kazakhstan and convince them that the Kazakh leadership is taking care of them. "It is not appropriate," said Quttyqadam, "for officials at that level to use that sort of style and such words." Quttyqadam said that he is ready to take part in any TV show together with President Nazarbaev and share his opinions and discuss those of President Nursultan Nazarbaev openly. "Then, - said Mr. Quttyqadam,- it will be clear who is right and who is wrong."
GOVERNMENT CHANGES ANNOUNCED.
President Nazarbaev has signed several decrees renaming the Ministry of the Economy the Ministry of Economy and Trade, and transforming the Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry into the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. Several other state agencies were dissolved. Energy Ministry Vladimir Shkolnik was named a deputy prime minister, and Berik Imashev was appointed as new Chief of Anti-Monopoly Agency. He replaces Altai Tleuberdin, who became Chief of the Kazakh Premier's apparatus.
FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO KAZAKHSTAN HOLDS TALKS WITH KAZAKH PRESIDENT.
Elizabeth Jones, former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan (1995-1998), who is currently advisor to the U.S. President and State Secretary on Caspian issues, held talks with President Nazarbaev in Almaty on December 13. Mrs. Jones told journalists after the talks that the main issue discussed was the proposed oil pipeline connecting west Kazakhstan's oil reserves with Turkey's Ceyhan port through Azerbaijan and Georgia. According to Mrs. Jones, President Nazarbaev expressed his positive attitude and support for the so-called Aktau-Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project.
VICTIMS AND VETERANS OF CHERNOBYL COMMEMORATED IN ALMATY.
On December 13 a special press conference devoted to the tragedy at Chernobyl Nuclear Plant was held at the National Press Club in Almaty on the initiative of the Soros-Kazakhstan Foundation. Ukrainian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Yuriy Kartashov, the director of Kazakhstan's Institute of Nuclear Physics, Qayrat Qadyrzhanov, the head of Kazakhstan's National Research Centre Zhabaghy Takibaev and other experts took part. Ambassador Kartashov told journalists that on December 15 at noon, the last reactor of Chernobyl Nuclear Plant will be shut down. He also said that among those who took part in the liquidation of Chernobyl accident's consequences in 1986, there were 26,000 persons from Kazakhstan, of whom about 6,000 suffered irreparable damage to their health as a result.
COMMUNISTS PROTEST DECISION TO MOVE LENIN'S MONUMENT FROM QARAGHANDY'S CENTRAL STREET.
At a session of the Kazakh parliament on December 13, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, the leader of Kazakhstan's Communist Party, protested the decision by the Qaraghandy City authorities to move the Lenin Mausoleum from the city's central street. Abdildin described that decision as inadmissible vandalism of historic monuments. Meanwhile, Tulkibay Toleuov of the Qaraghandy City Historic Sculptures Inspection told RFE/RL by phone on 13 December that the city's Communists have surrounded Lenin's monument in order to prevent it being moved from Central Street to Monuments Alley in Qaraghandy's suburbs.
NURBOLAT MASSANOV ON TRIAL.
The well known Kazakh scholar and politician Nurbolat Massanov was brought to trial on December 12. Almaty District Court judge Nurken MukhametqAliyev did not allow journalists to attend the hearing. Nurbolat Massanov was sued by another politician, Khasen Qozhakhmet, for "insulting the dignity and honour of the Kazakh nation." That charge may derive from an interview Massanov is supposed to have given to ITAR-TASS correspondent Yuriy Cherepanov, and which was published by several web-sites last summer. Massanov and Cherepanov say that that interview was a fabrication. Khasen Qozhakhmet refused to comment on the case to RFE/RL. Meanwhile Ermurat Bapi, editor of the "Sol-DAT" newspaper, told RFE/RL that Khasen Qozhakhmet's accusations were not motivated by his national feelings but by some political group supporting current government of the country. Bapi added, however, that as an ethnic Kazakh, he had been hurt by the wording of the internet interview. Nurbolat Massanov is known as a controversial politician, who, some Kazkah intellecuals believe, expressed anti-Kazakh viewpoints in the early1990s.
WORLD ASSOCIATION OF KAZAKHS HELD CONFERENCE ON THE KAZAKH LANGUAGE.
On December 12 the World Association of Kazakhs held a conference devoted to the destiny of the Kazakh language abroad and in Kazakhstan. Kazakh intellectuals from China, Mongolia, Turkey and Uzbekistan took part in the conference. They noted that the Kazakh language in Kazakhstan was "russified" during the years of Russian and then Soviet Empire, while ethnic Kazakhs in China and Mongolia have managed to preserve the original features of the Kazakh language.
KAZAKH ECONOMISTS HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Well known Kazakh economists Oraz Baimuratov, Arystan Essentugelov and Marat Kenzhegozhin held press conference in Almaty on December 12 devoted to the tenth anniversary of Kazakhstan's independent economic activities. The possibility of an amnesty for illegal capital flight from Kazakhstan was also discussed. According to Baimuratov, the illegal "dirty cash" pumped out of Kazakhstan during the years of independence should be returned back to the country, but first, the necessary legislative basis should be prepared. Baimuratov says that all those officials and businessmen who were involved in illegal money laundering should be amnestied through very sophisticated legislation, which has not been drafted yet.
KAZAKH MINISTER OF ENERGY, TRADE AND INDUSTRY ACCUSED KAZAKHOIL PRESIDENT.
The office of Vladimir Shkolnik, Kazakhstan's Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry, issued a press release on December 12, accusing Nurlan Balghymbaev, the President of KazakhOil of "not following Kazakh laws." Last week, Balghymbaev took part in the parliamentary session, where he drove at the point that KazakhOil would not make its operations transparent for Kazakh Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry, adding that KazakhOil's decision to provide crude oil to Ukraine's Kherson oil refinery is legal. Shkolnik has argued that decision is "not rational" and that KazakhOil should stop sending crude oil to Ukraine. Kazakhstan's energy sector is in a drastic situation itself, Shkolnik added. In the first nine months (January - September) of this year, Kazakhstan transferred about 895,000 tons of crude oil to the Kherson refinery.
KAZAKHSTAN'S CUSTOMS COMMITTEE MARKS ITS NINTH ANNIVERSARY.
December 12 marks the ninth anniversary of Kazakhstan's Customs Committee, which was established on the eve of Kazakhstan's 16 December 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. At a special press conference at the Kazakh State Revenues Ministry's Customs Committee, it was noted that in 11 months of this year, the Kazakh state treasury received more than 53 billion Tenges ($360 million) from the Customs Committee's activities, which is 20 billion Tenges more than during the same period in 1999. Kazakh Customs Committee Chairman Maratqaliy Nukenov told journalists that a draft law on restructuring of the Customs Committee was approved by the Kazakh parliament 20 days earlier.
KAZAKHSTAN'S AMBASSADOR TO U.S. REPLACED.
According to a Presidential Decree of 8 December, the head of the Cabinet Apparatus, Qanat Saudabaev, was appointed as Kazakhstan's new Ambassador to the U.S. The current ambassador to Washington, Bolat Nurghaliev, will be posted as Kazakh Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.
FORMER KAZAKH VICE PREMIER APPOINTED DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF QAZAQMYS JOINT STOCK COMPANY.
Another Presidential Decree signed by President Nursultan Nazarbaev on 8 December appointed Aleksander Pavlov, who was dismissed as deputy premier in November, as Vice Chairman of the QazaqMys Joint Stock Company. QazaqMys is Kazakhstan's main copper producing industrial giant. Pavlov will start his new duties on December 19.
OSCE OFFICE IN KAZAKHSTAN HELD ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION ON ELECTION LAWS.
On December 8, Eric Collins of the OSCE's office in Kazakhstan chaired a round table in Astana with representatives of several political parties, movements and NGOs, including as Alash, Azamat, and the Democratic Women's Party. Representatives of the Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan were invited but did not show up. That party is led by former Kazakh Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin from his self-imposed exile. The main issue discussed at the round table was possible changes and amendments to Kazakhstan's election laws. Officials from Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission also took part in the discussion. It was decided that all political parties, movements and NGOs will gather for a broad discussion of the issue in January 2001.