5 November 1999
ARMORED RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS REPORTED AS NOTICED IN SOUTH KAZAKHSTAN.
According to information provided by correspondents of RFE/RL, some news agencies of Kazakhstan, including Russian Interfax-Kazakhstan Agency, reported several cases when tourists encountered armed men wearing military uniforms in the mountains of South Kazakhstan Oblast, which borders with Uzbekistan. Also the appearance of many leaflets protesting the regime and the internal policies of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, in the town of Sary-Aghash in South Kazakhstan oblast, has been reported. But Kazakh officials deny such reports and rumors, saying that the Kazakh-Uzbek border is under the strict control of Kazakh border guards, whose number has been increased in recent weeks.
SOME KAZAKH CITIES FACE HEATING PROBLEMS AS WINTER APPROACHES.
Correspondents of RFE/RL quote the local mass media as reporting that such important administrative and industrial centers of Kazakhstan as the cities of Taraz and Qostanay are currently facing heating shortages. Qostanay has reportedly only 20 per cent of the fuel necessary for heating. Taraz likewise does not have sufficient natural gas for its citizens. The same situation is faced by the former capital - Almaty as well. The Kazakh-Belgian Joint Venture, Almaty Power Consolidated (APC) has not yet started heating the buildings, the owners of which hesitate to pay off their debts for electricity and heating to the company. APC controls the energy supply and heating system of the entire Almaty oblast.
FIRE IN ALMATY DESTROYED OFFICES OF SEVERAL PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS.
On November 4, the fire that broke out at 6:15 pm in the building of Almaty branch of the Russian Alfa-Bank did not affect the bank's property. But some companies and organizations renting the bank premises on the upper floors of the building were heavily destroyed. Among the offices that were damaged are those of the Azamat opposition party and of the Kazakh-American Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law. Investigations are underway.
ACTIVISTS OF KAZAKH REPUBLICAN PEOPLE'S PARTY HELD PRESS CONFERENCE.
Ghaziz Aldamzharov, Chairman of the Executive Committee of theKazakh Republican People Party's Executive Committee, as well as other party activists held a press conference at the National Press Club in Almaty on November 4. Ghaziz Aldamzharov had tried to be elected as a member of Kazakh Parliament's Lower House - Mazhilis - in October, but failed, as he says, due to "violations of democratic principles and Kazakh law". He called upon all the party members and other opposition movements and parties to unite in order to make the current Kazakh government declare the Parliamentary elections held last month as illegal. According to Mr. Aldamzharov, it is necessary to make every effort to hold new Parliamentary elections next year and afterwards to organize new Presidential polls. The Kazakh Republican People Party is led by the former Kazakh Premier - Akezhan Kazhegeldin - from exile.
MEDICAL PERSONNEL SENT TO THE AREAS AFFECTED BY RUSSIAN PROTON ROCKET'S EXPLOSION.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that a large group of medical personnel has been sent to regions of Central Kazakhstan affected by the explosion of the Russian Proton rocket that was launched from the Baikonur space center at the end of last month. The medical personnel will check the health condition of the local citizens. Medical checkups are reportedly scheduled to last till the beginning of December.
ETHNIC UYGHURS OF KAZAKHSTAN STAGED PROTEST DEMONSTRATION IN FRONT OF UZBEK EMBASSY IN KAZAKHSTAN.
On November 4, dozens of ethnic Uyghurs staged a picket in front of the building of the Uzbek Embassy in Kazakhstan demanding Islam Karimov - the Uzbek President - to focus on the situation of the Uyghurs, particularly on the situation of Mrs. Rabia Qadir, a well known Uyghur human rights activist, during the summit to be held between Uzbek President Karimov and his Chinese counterpart Jiang Zemin in the near future. Rabia Qadir was arrested by the Chinese authorities earlier this year and is currently being kept in a Chinese jail. The Uyghurs of Eastern Turkistan, the territory also called by the Chinese as Xin Jiang - New Frontier - has been oppressed by Chinese authorities in the last several years due to separatist activities noticed in the area after the collapse of the neighboring Soviet Union in 1991. Leaders of ethnic Uyghurs living in Kazakhstan say that hundreds of young Uyghurs have been arrested, placed in jails or shot by Chinese authorities in the last several years. The Republic of Eastern Turkistan used to be an independent country for a short term in the mid-40's. The main population of the area are Uyghurs - a Muslim Turkic people having common historic and ethnic roots with such Central Asian peoples as the Kazakhs Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tatars and Turkmens. About one and a-half million of ethnic Kazakhs are currently living in Xin Jiang; while the number of ethnic Uyghurs living in Kazakhstan is about 300,000.
KAZAKH PRESIDENT MADE STATEMENT SAYING THAT HE HAD NEITHER ACCOUNTS IN SWISS BANKS NOR PROPERTY ABROAD.
The Kazakh president told journalists of Khabar News Agency, which is headed by his own daughter Darigha, that he had no accounts in any of the banks of Switzerland. He also said that he had no property in the West. The New York Times published an article last month saying that it was more likely that President Nazarbayev had an account in one of the Swiss banks with millions of dollars that were received from an account belonging to the Kazakh government. President Nazarbayev told Khabar News Agency journalists on November 2 that he was not going to comment on the case again in the future.
BELARUSSIAN PRESIDENT IN ASTANA.
President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, started his official visit to Astana on November 4. He arrived to the Kazakh capital the previous evening and gave a short briefing at the airport. President Lukashenko told correspondents of RFE/RL that he was going to sign a large number of documents on bilateral cooperation with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev. But on November 4, the two sides signed only two agreements, one of which was a Kazakh-Belarussian Agreement on long-term bilateral economic cooperation for 1999-2008, and the other an agreement on cultural exchange. The Belarussian President expressed his country's interest in obtaining Kazakh oil and other mineral resources. Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev told journalists after the talks that Kazakhstan was ready to export wheat to Belarus and buy tractors in exchange. President Lukashenko was scheduled to meet students of Astana's Eurasian University later that day.
DEFENSE MINISTER OF KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN, RUSSIA, TAJIKISTAN, AND UZBEKISTAN MEET IN FERGHANA.
Correspondents of RFE/RL quote local mass media as reporting that the Defense Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan started talks in Ferghana City of Uzbekistan on November 3. Results of the joint Russian-Central Asian military maneuvers held in the area between October 27to November 2 were reportedly discussed at the negotiations. The military exercises called "Southern Shield" were held in order to polish joint efforts "against possible common enemies". The issue of religious militants threatening the stability in the region is one of the main focuses of local politicians at the present. After the events in South Kazakhstan in August of this year when a group of religious extremists managed to enter Kyrgyz territory from neighboring Tajikistan and took hundreds of hostages in the Batken region, Kazakh authorities started strengthening the southern borders with Uzbekistan.
CHIEF OF KAZAKH CENTRAL NATIONAL BANK HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE.
Grigoriy Marchenko - Chief of the Kazakh Central National Bank - told journalists on November 3 that 1,3,5,10,20, and 50 Tenges bills would be replaced by coins starting next year. The Kazakh national currency - the Tenge - is reported as becomingmore stable. The current rate is 140 Tenges to the dollar. Last week the rate was 143 Tenges to one dollar.
PRO-GOVERNMENT PARTIES HELD GATHERING IN ALMATY.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report from Almaty that the new members of Kazakh Parliament elected from such pro-government parties as Otan, Civic Party and Agrarian Party, held a gathering in the Dostyq (Friendship) House of the former Capital on November 3. The politicians who gathered there harshly criticized those ex-candidates to Parliament who failed to be elected and who kept accusing the local and Central Election Commissions, as well as local administrations, of numerous violations of Kazakh law and international standards during the elections. According to activists of the Otan and Civic party, the opposition's demands were themselves "illegal".