An academically independent Agency of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Wilton Park, is organizing a conference “Political and Economic Prospects in the Caspian Sea region” in West Sussex, England, from 6 to 10 March.
The aim of the conference is to examine the key political, economic and commercial prospects for the important Caspian Sea region over the next decade, and to explore how best to promote positive change.
Senior officials from countries of the Caspian Sea region, representatives of the British and US governments, EBRD, IMF and the World Bank, as well as business people and academics are participating in the conference.
Kazakhstan is represented by Nurlan Kapparov, Vice Minister of Energy, Industry and Trade, who was invited by Wilton Park/FCO to take part in the conference.
ALMATY, March 9
The city Akimat alone will be entrusted with the authority to develop the Kazakhstani capital Astana, the deputy Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov announced on Thursday at a governmental meeting.
The deputy Prime Minister announced during the recent visit of the Saudi Arabian Finance Minister, Mazhit Yesenbaev, that the two sides had agreed on the financing of the Astana-Kokshetau road by Arabic countries.
The development program for the capital includes 63 priority construction projects, of which 40 are planned to be launched this year. 1.38 billion tenge from the Astana budget has been spent on building projects in January-February 2000, out of an annual budget of 10.4 billion tenge. Of the 130,000 square meters of accommodation planned for this year, 16,928 square meters have been built over the last two months. The first deputy of the Astana Akim, Farid Galimov, announced at the meeting that in 2000 the national budget will allot 1.1 billion tenge for new construction projects..
Astana, March 9 (THE GLOBE)
ALMATY, March 9
The Constitution of Kazakhstan concentrates power in the presidency. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is the dominant political figure. The Constitution, adopted in 1995 in a referendum marred by irregularities, permits the President to legislate by decree and dominate the legislature and judiciary; it cannot be changed or amended without the President’s consent. In January President Nazarbayev was elected to a new 7-year term in an election that fell far short of international standards. Previous presidential elections originally scheduled for 1996 did not take place, as President Nazarbayev’s term in office was extended in a separate 1995 referendum, also marred by irregularities. Parliamentary elections held in October were an improvement on the presidential election but still fell short of international standards. Under the 1995 Constitution, Parliament’s powers are more limited than previously. However, Members of Parliament (M.P.’s) have the right to introduce legislation and some bills introduced by M.P.’s have become laws. The judiciary remained under the control of the President and the executive branch. The lack of an independent judiciary made it difficult to root out corruption, which was pervasive throughout the Government.
The Committee for National Security (the KNB, successor to the KGB) is responsible for national security, law enforcement activities on the national level, and counterintelligence. It also oversees the external intelligence service, Barlau. The KNB reports directly to the President. A new organization, the Agency on the Protection of State Secrets was established in May and, while not officially part of the Government, reportedly is directly subordinate to the Prime Minister. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is subordinate to the KNB, supervises the criminal police, who are poorly paid and widely believed to be corrupt. Both the KNB and the Interior Ministry Police (MVD) monitored Government opponents, the opposition press, human rights activists, and some nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s), who claimed that KNB and MVD officials pressured them to limit activities objectionable to the Government. The KNB continued efforts to improve its public image by focusing on fighting Government corruption, religious extremism, terrorism, and organized crime. Members of the security forces committed human rights abuses.
Kazakhstan is rich in natural resources, chiefly petroleum and minerals. The Government has made significant progress toward a market-based economy since independence. After 2 consecutive years of economic growth (1.1 percent in 1996 and 1.5 percent in 1997) the economy declined by 2.5 percent in 1998. The Government responded to the effects of the Russian financial crisis by floating the tenge in April, effectively devaluing it 60 percent by October. With the fall of the tenge, inflation reached 12.6 percent for the first 8 months of the year, compared with 1.9 percent for the same period in 1998. The average annual wage was approximately $1,000 (down from $1,500 in 1998). The agricultural sector has been slow to privatize. The Government has privatized successfully small- and medium-sized firms and most large-scale industrial complexes. However, living standards for the majority of the population continue to decline. According to several surveys, in 1998 approximately
35 percent of citizens lived below the government-defined poverty line of $35 per month, up from 33 percent the previous year.
The Government’s human rights record was poor, and serious problems remain in several areas. The Government severely limited citizens’ right to change their government. The Government barred two opposition politicians from competing in the January presidential elections on administrative grounds and harassed opposition candidates in the fall parliamentary elections. Democratic institutions remain weak. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) declined to send observers for the Presidential elections, citing flawed election preparations. The OSCE sent a full observation mission for the parliamentary elections after the Government made some reforms to its electoral law and regulations, but concluded that the elections fell short of the Government’s commitments as an OSCE member. In both elections, the Government used an electoral law provision to prohibit some government opponents from running because they previously had been found guilty of political offenses such as publicly insulting the President and participating in unauthorized public meetings and demonstrations. The Government harassed its opponents and appeared complicit in at least four assaults on perceived opponents during the presidential campaign. There were reports of official bias and harassment, but not of violence, during the parliamentary campaign.
The legal structure, including the Constitution adopted in 1995, does not fully safeguard human rights. Members of the security forces committed a number of extrajudicial killings, and tortured, beat, or otherwise abused detainees. Prison conditions remained harsh. The Government used arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly during the period prior to the January presidential election, and prolonged detention is a
problem. The judiciary remains under the control of the President and the executive branch, and corruption is deeply rooted. A political prisoner, Labor Movement leader Madel Ismailov, was released in February after serving 1 year in prison for insulting the President. He attempted to run for Parliament in October but under an April 1998 provision of the election law was disqualified because of his conviction. The Government infringed on citizens’ privacy rights.
The Government restricted freedom of speech and of the press. A July press law placed media issues under the direct control of the Minister of Information and Social Accord. The Government harassed much of the opposition media, and government efforts to restrain the independent media continued, as some opposition newspapers and other media outlets were ordered to close, forced to sell to progovernment interests, or brought under pressure by regulatory authorities. The Government reportedly pressured media not to cover the opposition during the presidential campaign, and, to a lesser extent, during the parliamentary campaign. Vague new state secret and media laws, as well as a similarly vague 1998 national security law, increased pressure on the media to practice self-censorship. The Government continues to own and control printing and distribution facilities and to subsidize publications. Academic freedom is not respected. The Government imposes significant restrictions on freedom of assembly. Some organizers of unsanctioned demonstrations were arrested and fined or imprisoned. The Government imposes significant restrictions on freedom of association, and complicated and controversial registration requirements hindered organizations and political parties. The Government sometimes harasses those it regards as religious extremists. Domestic violence against women remained a problem. There was discrimination against women, the disabled, and ethnic minorities. The Government discriminated in favor of ethnic Kazakhs. The Government limited worker rights; it tried to limit the influence of independent trade unions, both directly and through its support for state-sponsored unions, and members of independent trade unions were harassed. Workers continued to protest chronic nonpayment of wages. Child labor persists in agricultural areas. There was anecdotal evidence of trafficking in women.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no reports of political killings.
According to press reports, a criminal case was brought against a police sergeant in Makhtaaralsk (Shymkent oblast) for the beating death of 24-year-old man, Nurzhan Saparov, who was in custody following his arrest for disturbing the peace. At year’s end, reportedly four police officers were awaiting trial charged with responsibility for his death.
Reports indicate that deaths caused by military hazing persist, and there is no indication that the numbers of deaths declined during the year. However, there are some reports that military personnel engaging in hazing have been prosecuted.
There has been no government action in the 1998 death by beating of Yalkynzhan Yakupov whose body was found hanging in the Chunja District police station. There have been no arrests or known government investigation in the case of a young man killed while in detention in Almaty in January 1997.
In 1998, 1,290 inmates, more than 1 percent of all prisoners, died from disease, mostly tuberculosis, aggravated by harsh prison conditions and inadequate medical treatment (see Section 1.c.). No figures for deaths in prison were available for 1999.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution states that “no one must be subject to torture, violence or other treatment and punishment that is cruel or humiliating to human dignity;” however, police tortured, beat, and otherwise abused detainees sometimes in order to obtain confessions, and beat protesters. In May and August, the Government publicly acknowledged and criticized police use of torture. In the first half of the year, prosecutors brought
20 criminal cases against police officers for physically abusing detainees, but human rights observers believe that these cases cover only a small fraction of the incidents of police abuse of detainees. Human rights observers report that detainees sometimes are choked, handcuffed to radiators, or have plastic bags placed over their heads to force them to divulge information. Training standards and pay for police are very low and individual law enforcement officials often are supervised poorly.
Members of an Islamic group from Taraz alleged that the authorities beat 70 group members, including 12 minors, who were detained for participation in a private religious retreat in July. The beatings reportedly left one minor with a broken nose and an adult detainee with broken ribs (see Section 2.c.). In April police in Aralsk reportedly beat a group of female hunger strikers who were blocking a railway line to protest nonpayment for 3 years of family social benefits. Three were hospitalized as a result of the beatings which were reported in the media on April 21-22. On November 28, in Almaty, two unidentified men assaulted opposition activist Andrei Grishin, who published a newspaper article critical of a new museum dedicated to President Nazarbayev shortly before the incident. The attack apparently was politically motivated. Law enforcement authorities and anonymous telephone callers reportedly warned Grishin several times before the assault to stop his political activities. The assailants, who reportedly told Grishin that he deserved the attack, cut off Grishin’s hair, doused him with oil paint, and left him unconscious. They did not rob him. No arrests were made in the case by year’s end. Opposition activist Aleksei Martinov was detained on suspicion of theft of computer parts and was hospitalized on December 12 after suffering head injuries from a beating he received while in police detention in Almaty. Martinov filed a complaint alleging that the police beat him and was released following his hospitalization.
During the campaign prior to the January 10 presidential election, several perceived government opponents were assaulted. The attacks appeared to be politically motivated and, in at least some cases, sanctioned by the Government (see Section 3). The authorities made no arrests. There were no reports of such attacks prior to the autumn parliamentary elections.
Army personnel subjected conscripts to brutal hazing, including beatings and verbal abuse. The Deputy Chief of the General Staff reported 17 cases of death due to mistreatment as of mid-1998, a 50 percent decline over the same period in 1997. Reportedly the Government has taken action occasionally against officials charged with abuses, levying administrative sanctions such as fines for those found guilty. The Army launched an aggressive campaign to punish violators of a new antihazing policy in 1998, but at year’s end anecdotal accounts suggested that hazing had worsened, and there were no official reports on the problem.
There were claims that authorities committed persons to mental institutions for political purposes. In May a professor at the Eurasian University in Astana, Armial Tasymbekov, was committed to a mental hospital for public drunkenness. He claimed that his incarceration was motivated politically because KNB officials interrogated him shortly before his incarceration on the suspicion that he incited his students to criticize the President in leaflets and graffiti. Tasymbekov was released later in May and died in August.
Prison conditions remained harsh due to inadequate resources. According to the Interior Ministry during the year there were approximately 85,000 prisoners in facilities designed to hold 60,000. Local human rights observers agreed with these figures. On February 26, prisoners at a prison in Atyrau reportedly protested mistreatment by cutting open their stomachs; however, none died. Press reports in March indicated that five teenagers in a juvenile detention facility in Almaty cut open their veins to draw attention to harsh treatment.
Overcrowding, inadequate prison diet, and a lack of medical supplies and personnel contributed to the spread of tuberculosis and other major diseases. Human rights observers reported that 14,000 prisoners, or about 16 percent of all prisoners, suffered from tuberculosis. These figures do not differ significantly from official figures. In September 1998, the official
Russian-language newspaper reported that 12,600 prisoners suffered from tuberculosis. A human rights NGO reported that the total number of tuberculosis cases declined by 30 percent during the year as a consequence of improved treatment, humanitarian aid, and amnesties. In 1997 the Government also acknowledged that AIDS is becoming a concern. Prison guards, who are poorly paid, steal food and medicines intended for prisoners. Violent crime among prisoners is common.
In July the Government passed the first amnesty law since 1996. It applied to nonviolent offenders who committed crimes as juveniles, had certain kinds of veteran’s status, were seriously ill, or had specified family responsibilities. According to parliamentary sources, the objective of the law was to release over 21,000 prisoners within 6 months of its passage. However, Interior Ministry sources said that only about 15,000 prisoners actually would receive amnesty. The law also was intended to clear the convictions of approximately 22,000 persons who received suspended sentences and to reduce the sentences of approximately 7,700 inmates. By year’s end, the Interior Ministry reported that over 15,000 prisoners were released under the amnesty law, 2,100 of whom suffered from tuberculosis.
Submitted by the Informational Agency, the US Embassy to Kazakhstan
(To be continued)
On December 30, 1999 Kazakhstan signed the Convention on Collection of Alimony Abroad, created by the UN Conference on September 5, 1962 in New York, U.S.A.
The convention is aimed at making it easier for a person in any of the signatory countries (or a “Complainant”), to collect alimony payments from a person under the jurisdiction of any other signatory country (or an “Appellee”).
To the conditions of the Convention each signatory country must establish administrative or legal institutions capable of fulfilling the duties of complete or temporary alimony transfers within its territory.
The procedure set out in the Convention is as follows: first the Complainant’s state accepts his request for collection the of alimony payments from the Appellee; then the necessary documents are analysed to ensure that they comply with the legislation of the Complainant’s country; these documents are then transferred to the interim office of the Appellee’s state, to which are then added any alimony court sentences or resolutions in favor of the Complainant, by his request, as well as any conditions that are peculiar to the case. The transfer instance is entitled to notify the interim instance of its opinion regarding validity of the request and to recommend to render the Complainant free law assistance and to release him from any expenses.
The main obligation of the interim instance is to take all appropriate measures to collect alimony, including to conclude an amicable agreement, to sue alimony, to conduct the corresponding trial and to enforce any sentence or resolution by the court, on behalf of the Complainant.
The transfer and interim instances should not demand any fee for services rendered by them according to the Convention.
The Complainant submits his request on collection of alimony along with all corresponding documents, including the Complainant’s photo and the Appellee’s one, if possible. The request must contain: 1) name and surname, address, date of birth, nationality and occupation of the Complainant; surname and address of his law representative; 2) name and surname of the Appellee and his addresses in turn for the last five years known to the Complainant; the Appellee’s date of birth, nationality and occupation; 3) detailed grounds and the subject of the request and all other data concerning the case, in particular income and family status of both the Complainant and the Appellee.
In accordance with the Convention, the applicable law is of the Appellee’s state.
While considering cases based on the Convention, in respect to the Appellee the same regime and the same release from fees and other expenses, applicable for residents or citizens of the state where these cases are considered, are used.
You may get the detailed information on any law issues in the Almaty office of the law firm LEX ANALITIC. Tel./fax: 631-711, tel.: 637-226.
With respect and hope for further cooperation,
Lawyer of LEX ANALITIC
UST-KAMENOGORSK, March 5
The official authorities were not notified of the Almaty reporters’ meeting with a spokesman of the Cossacks of Eastern Kazakhstan (THE GLOBE # 17, 07.03.2000), where it was the journalists who initiated the meeting. If the local authorities had known of the conference in advance, so it is said, they could have tried to interfere. But why would they want to? No one yet seems to know the answer.
The atmosphere of this badly organized press conference, held late in the evening in a desperately inconvenient location, literally right before journalists left for Almaty, took us back to the stories of underground meetings that we had read about in our youth.
Every political questions was answered with ambiguity. The Cossacks seemed to be scared.
Some civil servants still consider the Cossacks to be a real political force, capable of actively defying the state. Sadly, it is due to a small number of individuals who pursued their personal goals using the Cossack movement for attention who have earned the movement its bad name.
Unlike official opposition, it is difficult to call the Cossacks politically active. True, the Cossacks support the idea of Kazakhstan’s joining to the Russia-Belarus union. Whilst they are satisfied with the present regime, they would like to see Kazakhstan participating in the Union as a sovereign state. However, the Cossacks are unable to take any real measures to force the issue. “The attempts are illegal,” one of the Atamans said sadly.
The Cossacks undoubtedly remember 1998, when special forces ordered the closure of the Cossack summer youth camp on the left bank of the Irtysh river, although they later acknowledged it to be “an illegal armed formation”. On the other hand the Cossacks trained the youths to survive in extreme natural conditions, took them on hikes and so on.
The Cossacks referred to the organizers of the failed revolt in Ust-Kamenogorsk as ordinary people, who people will never follow.
Only a few years ago the Cossack movement in Eastern Kazakhstan was a well-organized group, during the years of the illusive policy of common “rebirth”. Due to difficult economic and social conditions, people then left the Cossack movement. On average at present not more than 10 to 15 Cossacks live in one stanitsa.
It is worth noting that even today Cossacks follow traditions. The punishment system is especially interesting. The most severe punishment is public whipping.
It is used only after the Council of Elders and the Ataman have agreed. After the punishment, the guilty person is to bow to all present Cossacks and thank them “for the lesson.”
In 1991 the five-meter cross was forged and installed in memory of Cossack victims of the Red terror campaign of October 1917. The monument is supposed to remind people that the power gained by the sword is never just.
Bakhytzhamal BEKTURGANOVA, President of ASaP
Almaty , March 9
700 people were surveyed
60% of people polled in Almaty think that the civil suit of the Kazakhskaya Pravda editor A. Aimbetov against the Pokolenye leader I.. Savostina should be withdrawn.
Kazakhskaya Pravda recently published an anonymous article “Is it true, Irina Alekseevna?”. The only reference under the title of the publication was the surname of the newspaper’s editor A. Aimbetov. He himself chose the wording of the article, referring to an anonymous informational source.
We offered the survey’s participants a list of the main characteristics of I. Savostina, as set out in the article and asked them to mark which of them they agreed with.
With which characteristics of I. Savostina do you agree?
(% of polled)
|“Protector of pensioners “||51.5||23.5||28.0|
|“Consultant on pension legislation”||9.0||5.0||4.0|
|“Protector of people”||7.0||2.0||5.0|
|“Usurper” (usurped power from Pokolenye members)||4.0||2.0||20|
|“Deceives pensioners when she talks of things obviously impossible for the Almaty administration”||3.0||1.0||2.0|
|“Ordinary home-bred teacher and organizer”||2.5||2.0||0.5|
|“Organizer of boorish executions of disagreeable members of Pokolenye”||1.0||1.0||0.0|
|“Earns dollars betraying the interests of pensioners”||1.0||0.5||0.5|
|“Generous and attentive toward leasing and obedient, sometimes toward useful people”||1.0||0.5||0.5|
77% of respondents agreed with positive characteristics of I. Savostina. The polling results prove not only people’s positive opinion of the Pokolenye leader, but also condemn the insulting tone of the article about the most popular public figure in the southern capital.
What goal might Kazakhskaya Pravda’s insulting article about I. Savostina be trying to achieve?
(% of polled)
|To discredit the Pokolenye leader’s good name||18.2||9.2||9.0|
|To fulfill the social order by the people in power destroying the movement||26.5||14.0||12.5|
|To discredit both the pensioners’ democratic movement and its leader||18.9||7.9||11.0|
|Difficult to answer||36.0||12.0||24.0|
63.6% of those polled in Almaty consider the article in Kazakhskaya Pravda to have been ordered by those in power and it to have been an intended means of discrediting the leader of Pokolenye and the entire pensioners’ movement across the country.
What should the Almalinsky court do about the civil suit by A. Aimbetov? (% of polled)
|To confirm the suit||7.0||4.0||3.0|
|To refute the charges||60.0||26.5||33.5|
|Difficult to answer||32.3||12.5||19.8|
60% of polled people are confident that the Almaty court is to deny the editor’s suit.
The question still remains: Who “mixed dignity with the business reputation of Kazakhskaya Pravda” at the height of the subscription campaign? The author of the refutation that gave a new determination to Kazakhskaya Pravda or the editor who evaluated his civic honor in 100 million tenge?
The rhetorical question is the answer in the form of a question. Let the Almaty population reply to the question “What does I. Savostina have in common with Aldan Aimbetov’s civil conscience?” themselves.
All Over the Globe is published by IPA House.
© 1998 IPA House. All Rights Reserved.