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Kazakh Report: August 17, 1999

17 August 1999

Armiyal Tasymbekov, a journalist who spent a week in a psychiatric clinic in Astana earlier this year, was found dead in his apartment in Almaty last weekend, RFE/RL correspondents in the former capital reported on 17 August. No details are available, and Tasymbekov's relatives refused to give any comment to RFE/RL. Some police officials and medical experts suggested to RFE/RL correspondents that Mr. Tasymbekov's death "might have been caused by alcoholic intoxication."

Tasymbekov and his relatives had told RFE/RL correspondents in May that he had been detained by the Kazakh National Security officers who gave him forcible injections and took him to a clinic for patients with mental diseases. According to Tasymbekov, he had been accused of "organization of anti�Nazarbayev graffiti on walls and fences of both capitals of Kazakhstan". Tasymbekov was released from the clinic in early May. The National Security Committee and the medical personnel of the clinic both refused to give any information to RFE/RL at that time.

According to information provided by RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty, Kazakh Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev started an official trip to India on August 17. Toqayev is reportedly scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart and Indian oil and gas officials. Such issues as economic cooperation between the two countries, regional security and stability are expected to be discussed during the meetings to be held in New Delhi.

August 16 was the deadline for registration for candidates contending the election to the Senate � Upper Chamber of the Kazakh Parliament. Zaghipa Baliyeva, Chairwoman of the Kazakh Central Election Commission, told journalists on 16 August that in all, 33 candidates have been registered for the 16 Senate seats. She also said that the OSCE has prepared special footage for TV shows in order to propagandize the election campaign among the Kazakh population. Baliyeva said that former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin has a full right to participate in the parliamentary elections, adding that the Kazakh election law has been changed and the article banning anyone brought to trial on any charge from taking part in the elections has been eliminated. But she mentioned that she had never heard anything about another accusation of contempt of court brought against Kazhegeldin.

One of the leaders of Azamat Party, Piotr Svoik, was refused registration as a parliamentary candidate at the Al�Farabi Electoral Districts of Almaty on August 16. Mr. Svoik was not given any detailed explanations for that refusal.

The pro-government Otan Party is going to hold its session on August 18, in order "to outline main priorities on the eve of the elections".

On August 17, leaders of another pro�government party, the Civil Party of Kazakhstan, held a press conference in Almaty where they familiarized journalists with their pre-election program.

Some sources told RFE/RL correspondents that Kazakh Ambassador to Italy, well-known Kazakh writer Olzhas Suleymenov and the former Chief of the Kazakh Customs Committee, Ghaniy Qasymov, who ran unsuccessfully as a Presidential candidate in January 1999, will probably participate in the parliamentary elections.

Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported last week that Kazakhstan's ambassador to Japan Toleukhan Kabdrakhmanov during a meeting with the director of the European and Oceania department of the Japanese Foreign Ministry Mutsuioshi Nishimura said Kazakhstan was seeking the return of several MiG-21 jet fighters sold to North Korea illegally. Both agencies quoted a report from the Japanese Foreign Ministry. The Kazakh Service of RFE/RL contacted the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, but a press service official said that at this stage they could not comment on that report. Last week, after the United States expressed its serious concerns about reports that Kazakhstan has sold dozens of MiG-21 fighter jets to North Korea, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev had a telephone conversation with US Vice-President Al Gore. Reports from the presidential press service said that the two exchanged views on ways for further development of partnership relations between Kazakhstan and the United States.