KAZAKHSTAN

KAZAKHSTAN-IN-BRIEF

“During the visit of the Kazakhstani delegation headed by President Nazarbaev they signed 18 documents, including 11 intergovernmental and interdepartmental ones,” the Foreign Minister announced on Monday, January 10, in Astana.

Besides, Idrisov said they signed three grant agreements, according to which US$ 80,000 will be allotted for railway researches by Temir Zholy, about US$ 400,000 – for mining researches by the nuclear center, and about US$ 400,000 for development of power networks in Kazakhstan by KEGOC. The KEGOC President Uraz Dzhandosov signed the agreement with the World Bank for the amount of US$ 140 million. The credit will be utilized by KEGOC to develop power networks in Kazakhstan.

Today there is a ballyhoo regarding the replacement of the old driving license with new laminated ID. Oshkin, the head of the railway department thinks that in fact there is no reason for trouble, as after January 1 the licenses will be still exchanged. People who did not received the new ID will pay no penalty. However, possibly, the Road Department of the Internal Ministry will decide that in the new year old driving licenses will be invalid, and drivers with old ones will have to pay 4,000 tenge, according to the article “Driving a vehicle without driving license”.

The police colonel said that today new license costs 1,400 tenge, including 1,00 tenge to be transmitted to Loton company, and 300 tenge – to the Traffic Safety Fund for registration of the documents. Pensioners may have 40% of discount, while veterans of the Great Patriotic War may receive it free of charge. The rest privileged groups do not pay 300 tenge for registration.

Today there are 16 bills in the Mazhilis legislative portfolio. Among them are “On lobbying the bills”, “On local state governing” and “On local self-governing”.

The Parliament started its work after almost three weeks of its vacations. On January 7 the Mazhilis Bureau meeting was held. At the meeting they discussed preliminary terms of conclusion on some projects. Soon the plenary meeting of the Lower Chamber will consider the bill “On institutions”, “On supplementation and changing the Law “On farms”, and the supplementation to the law “On national security”, etc.

“The Kazakhstani government decided to reconsider the policy regarding the oil products market. In connection with this the oil export quota of 22 million tons has been introduced,” the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan announced on Tuesday in Astana at the first governmental meeting in this year.

Kasymzhomart Tokaev considers the quote a reasonable measure, as all local refineries are working with the capacity of 30.7%. He said that during 1999 the Shymkent refinery processed 3,061,000 tons, while the Pavlodar refinery, which did not work for a long time, processed 563,000 tons.

According to Reuters, in this year Kazakhstan plans to increase the oil production up to 33 million tons. Hence, we may conclude that in 2000 local refineries will have to process about 11 million tons of oil.

Erkanat Abeni, Astana


Nikolai Radostovets Attacks the Pension Reform

Public Pension Organizations Defend

Aidar AKHMETOV

ALMATY, Jan 6 (THE GLOBE)

December 29, 1999 Caravan newspaper published an interview with the Minister of Labor and Social Defense Nikolai Radostovets. In that interview he criticized the pension reform that was being realized in the country.

Representatives of public organizations lobbying interests of professional participants of the saving pension system held a meeting with journalists where they expressed their opinion regarding that publication.

“I do not understand the Minister’s accusation concerning the pension reform and its participants,” Aidar Alibaev, the chairman of the Pension Funds Association Board of Directors said to journalists. He emphasized that if just misunderstanding of the pension legislation and the mechanism of the pension reform did not cause these words, then Radostovets was to mention concrete facts and figures to prove his accusation.

In conclusion Alibaev said that the Minister, who was to promote the pension reform, 0did a lot of harm to the pension system and should be responsible for his idle accusations.

‘Recently the pension reform again became the subject to attacks. Though for the last two years of funds’ operations no fund stole depositors’ money,” Nurzhan Alimukhambetov, the chairman of the Union of Pension Reform Participants Board of Directors stated. He connects the growth of distrust to the saving pension system with a number of reasons. First of all, it is the necessity to work out the short-term and middle-term programs on development of the pension system in Kazakhstan. These programs are to stipulate main phases, constant parameters of the system, directions and measures to improve the legislation. Alimukhambetov said that they had begun to work out the working programs and they had agreed on this issue with the Interdepartmental Council on the Pension Reform.


Religious Celebrations

For the First Time in the History of the Two World Religions Ramazan Ait and Christmas Coincided

Kuanysh ZHUMANGAZINOV

ALMATY, Jan 6

(THE GLOBE)

First days of the new millenium were marked by the coincided holidays of the two world religions. From January 7 Kazakhstani Muslims are celebrating Ramazan Ait, while Christians – Christmas.

The mufti Ratbek kazhy Nasanbaiuly announced on Thursday that on Saturday at 8.30 a.m. people in mosques would recite the ait namaz and from that time during three days they would celebrate Ramazan Ait, the so-called ‘idul fider’.

On these days Muslims should remember their forefathers, to give alms to poor people, to cook flat cakes and to read the Koran.

At present there are 25 mosques in Almaty, and over 5,000 in Kazakhstan.

According to the archpriest Sergy, the year remarkable for Christians will last from January 1, 2000 to January 7, 2001. The diocesan commission established in November 1999 planned this program.

On January 7 the archbishop Alexy along with the His Grace archbishop Antony planned to visit Uralsk, where they will celebrate Christmas. After Christmas all three present Kazakhstani eparchies will celebrate the holiday.

During the year the Almaty Orthodox Department plans to visit aged people’s homes, colonies, and the frontier hospital. Bishops will celebrate the competition of the year on January 7, 2001 in Almaty.

Today the Almaty eparchy has 104 parishes and 7 cloisters.

Under aegis of the Kazakhstani People’s Assembly the Ecclesiastical Council subordinate to the President will be established.

The council initiated by the mufti Ratbek kazhy Nasanbaiuly. The council will include Islamic, Christian, Buddhist and Judaism leaders. It is expected that the government will soon take a final decision.

The objective of the new religious organization is to stop totalitarian sects penetrating into the country, that do harm to people consciousness.


Kazakhstan in 1999: Chronicle of Events

ALMATY, Jan 10 (THE GLOBE)

January

5th The final gala concert of Russian artists, participants of the agitation train “Yug” was held in Astana. Within 30 days they had been agitating the youth from south-west oblast of Kazakhstan to vote for Nursultan Nazarbaev.

10th The first alternative presidential election held in Kazakhstan. Four candidates struggled for the President’s post: Nursultan Nazarbaev (the present President), Serikbolsyn Abdildin (the 1st secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan), Gani Kasymov (the chairman of the Customs Committee) and Engels Gabbasov (a senator of the Kazakhstani Parliament).

15th Kazakhstanskaya pravda, one of the oldest Russian newspapers in Kazakhstan was offered for a tender. 65% of stocks were offered for the tender, 35% are supposed to belong to the Ministry of Information and Public Consent. As of the moment of announcement, the newspaper’s circulation was 33,000 copies.

26th The KNB general-mayor Hadeev was caught in a cooperation with the foreign special services. This was the highest agent for the Kazakhstani history. According to different sources, the high-rank KNB officer worked either for Iran or for Turkey.

February

4th The Kazakhstani liberal movement and the three parties (the Party of People’s Unity, the Civil Party and the Democratic Party) announced their merge as a single party Otan. The new party will support the President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

11th The Kazakhstani PM Nurlan Balgimbaev signed decrees on restrictions of the import from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. according to the signed decrees, some products, mainly foodstuff, imported from these countries will be additionally taxed with 200% tax.

17th The Kazakhstani Supreme Court acknowledged that the British group Trans World Group (WTG) had done harm to its affiliated enterprises in Kazakhstan (the Sokolovsko-Sorbaisk Concentrating Mill, the Pavlodar Aluminum Plant, Kazchrome, etc.) for the amount of US$ 200 million. According to the court resolution, TWG was excluded from shareholders of Kazakhstani enterprises. The latter are entitled not to repay credits allotted by the British company.

24th According to the President’s decree, Azamat Dzholdasbekov appointed the chairman of the National Commission on Securities (NCS). He was the fourth NCS chairman from the moment of establishment of this organization supervising the development of the stock market in Kazakhstan.

March

1st The constitutive congress of the republican party Otan was held in Almaty. The new party was established on the basis of the pre-election headquarter to support Nursultan Nazarbaev, a candidate to the President’s post. Otan included the Party of People’s Unity of Kazakhstan, the Democratic Party, the Liberal Movement of Kazakhstan and the movement “For Kazakhstan-2030”. At the constitutive congress Nursultan Nazarbaev was elected the Otan leader.

10th The Kazakhstani Senate ratified two “Additional Agreements” on the state border between Kazakhstan and China dated September 24, 1997 and July 4, 1998 signed by President Nursultan Nazarbaev during his visit to Peking. According to the ratified documents, the bordering 407 sq. km. were now under Chinese jurisdiction. The rest 537 sq. km. of 944 disputable ones still belong to Kazakhstan. The ratio of the divided disputable districts is: China – 43.1% and Kazakhstan – 56.9%.

16th The President of Kazakhstan introduced the post of another deputy of the PM. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasymzhomart Tokaev occupied this post. According to the Presidential press-service, the new post was caused by the necessity to coordinate the foreign connections of Kazakhstan.

17th President Nursultan Nazarbaev laid off the responsibilities of the chairman of the republican Supreme Court Council. During three years he was the chairman of the Council. In the last year the Constitution was changed, and the chairman of the Council was not to be the President, but a person appointed by him. In connection with this, Nursultan Nazarbaev appointed his legal advisor Igor Rogov.

April

5th The government and the National Bank of Kazakhstan introduced the free-floating tenge’s rate. The Kazakhstani PM Nurlan Balgimbaev said that from that time onwards the dollar’s rate in Kazakhstan would be determined depending on the demand and the offer available in the stock market. The NB will not interfere seriously in this process.

10th The constitutive conference of Orleu movement was held in Almaty. The main program provisions of Orleu were as follows: the shift from the presidential to the parliamentary system, the introduction of the direct election of all Akims and judges, the independent status of the Central Election Commission and circuit election commissions. Orleu was going to participate in the Parliamentary election.

14th In Astana the Tax Police Committee arrested the former Finance Minister of Kazakhstan Zhomart Mukashev. An official representative of the Tax Committee said that they had instituted a criminal case against Mukashev according to the article 308 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan: “Exceeding the power and authority.”

15th The NB Board supplemented the Rules of Currency Operations in Kazakhstan. In particular, standard volume of export of cash foreign currency without documents confirming its origin had been reduced. From May 1, 1999 Kazakhstani people will be able to export foreign currency equivalent to US$ 3,000. If this amount exceeds US$ 3,000, Kazakhstani citizens are to submit documents to the Customs for the total amount.

May

8th Kazakhstan ‘had’ to introduce the duty on transit Uzbek transport in the amount of US$ 300 after Uzbekistan blocked the way to vehicles coming from Kazakhstan since April 1.

14th President Nursultan Nazarbaev issued a decree to establish the Agency protecting state secretes. The new agency will be subordinate to the President. According to the presidential press-service, it will be the central executive organization that will be independent on the government.

20th Nursultan Nazarbaev entitled the government to reconsider the bill on media, according to which media may be closed by an authorized organization in accordance with the resolution of the General Office of Public Prosecutor. The opposition and some international organizations seriously criticized this provision.

June

2nd The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development undertook the responsibility to invest US$ 160 million to the Kazakhtelecom project utilizing both the Share equity and the direct loans.

6th During Anatoly Chubais’ tour to the Ural oblast, Russia and Kazakhstan agreed to establish a Trans-national power company. The company will deal with three federal electric power station and two coal deposits in Kazakhstan.

11th The population of the Almaty oblast sacrificed gold items to restore the Kazakhstani economy. The Akim of the Almaty oblast Zamanbek Nurkadilov announced that he would establish the ‘gold fund.’

July

8th In Astana at the Senate meeting parliamentarians approved the bill on media. “We banned the most serious restrictions for media and we made it possible for journalists to get the information, having widened the access and regulated editors’ actions in case of a refusal,” the Minister of Culture, Information and Public Consent stated.

10th The Almaty International Airport building almost burnt. No victims. Due to the fire all flights were postponed by several hours.

13th President Nazarbaev signed the decree on introduction of the new Civil Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

27th According to Khabar agency, in Astana the Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbaev submitted a note to Nursultan Nazarbaev asking to dismiss the Akim of the South-Kazakhstan oblast Kalyk Abdullaev. The main reason for the dismissal was the Akim’s unsatisfying work to attract investments to the oblast.

August

3rd According to the decree of the Ministry of Information and Public Consent 25 republican editions donated by the budget, including many official newspapers and magazines, as well as the only literary Kazakhstani magazine Prostor and the children’s newspaper Druzhnye Rebyata, were temporally stopped.

The state will continue to finance only Kazakhstanskaya pravda, Yegemen Kazakhstan and Zhas Alash.

10th In Astana the Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbaev and the KNB chairman Nurtai Abykaev sent in their resignations. The President approved the resignations, which were caused by a scandal due to serious infringements of the order of realization of military technique (the sale of 6 MiGs arrested in Baku). The head of the General Headquarter Bakhytzhan Yertaev was appointed the acting Defense Minister. The new KNB chairman is Alnur Musaev.

12th In the north-east of the Kazakhstani part of the Caspian Sea the first well is being drilled. The drilling platform 85 m in length, about 50m in height and 10,000 tons may guarantee drilling both at the depth of 4 to 5 m and at the hollow. The press center of the Atyrau oblast Akimat and OKIOC specialists said they had spent more than US$ 100 million to prepare the drilling platform.

23rd The Kazakhoil President Nurlan Kapparov dismissed for exceeding his authority while settling strategic issues of the oil and gas industry of Kazakhstan, according to the governmental decree.

September

8th President Nazarbaev appointed Rakhat Aliev the head of the KNB department in Almaty and the Almaty oblast. The former KNB chief in Almaty Nurbekov appointed the deputy of the chairman of the national KNB.

10th In Moscow in Sheremetyevo-2 airport, Akezhan Kazhegeldin arrested when he arrived from London and was going to leave for Atyrau to support his colleague Gaziz Aldamzharov nominated to the Parliament. The Central Election Commission withdrew Kazhegeldin from the election, while the General Office of Public Prosecutor issued an order for his arrest, a month ago.

21st President Nazarbaev established a commission to opposite the religious extremism in Kazakhstan. The President’s assistant on national security issues, the secretary of Security Council Marat Tazhin is to head the commission.

October

1st In Astana Nazarbaev officially announced that he had accepted the resignation of the Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbaev. Kasymzhomart Tokaev was appointed the acting PM. Nazarbaev commenting on the event emphasized that the former PM would head Kazakhoil and would enter the new government.

10th The election to the Mazhilis (the Lower House), as well as to the local Maslikhats was held in Kazakhstan. 170 observers from international organizations, including the OSCE, watched the election in Kazakhstan.

28th Kazakhstan prohibited any launched from the Baikonur until reasons for the accident of Proton are finally clarified, said the Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev. He stated that to investigate the incident the governmental commission headed by the first deputy of the Russian PM Alexander Pavlov.

November

2nd President Nazarbaev said to journalists that he had no accounts in Swiss banks. Neither he had any property in the West. In the last month The New York Times published a story that supposedly President Nazarbaev had an account in a Swiss bank and that millions of dollars are gained from the property belonging to the Kazakhstani government. The President emphasized that he would not comment this story in future.

3rd The new NB head Grygory Marchenko announced they would abandon soon the obligatory sale of the exporters’ hard currency revenues. Besides, he stated that the National Bank had agreed with the Finance Ministry regarding the 1 percent duty on individuals buying dollars.

19th 22 people, including 12 Russian citizens, were arrested in Ust-Kamenogorsk, in the office of Aviatrekspolis insurance company. They are suspected of a preparation of a revolt. According to the KNB, during the preliminary investigation it was found out that the group of gunmen was to capture the regional administration building, the regional KNB department and the police. Then they were going to raise a revolt to separate Eastern Kazakhstan and to declare the republic Russkaya Zemlya.

22nd The Kazakhstani Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev presented the economic program for the next three years. First of all the government is going to make the inflation low, to liquidate the negative balance and to reduce the national budget deficit. By 2002 the government plans to narrow the inflation to 4 to 5%, to reduce the budget deficit to 1.2% and to decrease the unemployment from 13 to 8%.

December

6th The Minister of Economy Zhaksybek Kulekeev, having returned from his tour to the USA, announced that within the next 2 years Kazakhstan would enter the World Trade Organization (WTO). Presently Kazakhstan has submitted its offer on Customs tariffs to the WTO and stated that Kazakhstan’s membership would demand reduced Customs duties.

22nd Kazakhstani largest air companies merged as the holding Air Kazakhstan Group. The Holding will include the biggest regional air companies and enterprises: Irtysh-AVIA, Atyrau Airport, Atyrau Aue Zholy, ATMA-airport Atyrau and transportation, as well as the national air company Air Kazakhstan.

24th the international rating agency Standard&Poor’s kept Kazakhstani ratings the same, but changed their dynamic prognosis from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’. Kazakhstan’s long-term ratings on loans in foreign currency and the national currency are B+ and B- respectively. “Ratings of Kazakhstan are supported by the government’s firm devotion to reasonable management of the economy, structural reforms and financial stabilization,” S&P statement said.


Radio Liberty

Oraza Ended with a Fight at the Mosque

This year the last day of the Muslim fasting Oraza coincided with Christmas, the day of birth of Jesus Christ who is called the prophet Isa in the Koran? On Thursday, at the eve of the sacred holidays, the Kazakhstani chief mufti Ratbek-khadzhy and the abbot of the Almaty eparchy Sergy held a press conference. Apart from other topics, the ecclesiastical leaders offered to establish the Council of Spiritual Consent subordinate to the President. According to the Constitution, Kazakhstan is a secular state. The state does not interfere into religions, and religions are separated from the state. Why are they going to establish the Council? There are enough departments supervising consent in the country. There are the Council of National Security and the KNB. The main point is that we have the Ministry of Culture, Information and Public Consent. Moreover, we have the Kazakhstani People’s Assembly. Contradicting the Constitution, sometimes the state finances this public organization. At the previous session of the Assembly President Nazarbaev acknowledged this. In fact, the Assembly plays the role of a micro-Parliament.

Certainly, we may just welcome religious leaders’ willingness to improve spiritual consent. But we are troubled. The chief mufti of Kazakhstan cannot maintain spiritual consent at least along the perimeter of the central Almaty mosque at a distance of a stretched lasso. On the holy Friday an armed guard of the mosque openly beat an aged poor Muslim woman. He beat her head with a rubber truncheon. A Radio Liberty correspondent saw this disgraceful event. According to eyewitnesses, they used to beat poor people objectionable to the mosque administration.

(Then there is the direct speech of the crying and moaning from pain Muslim woman. Another woman (obviously, a Turkish) states that the guards and the police permit only Kazakhs to collect alms. A Kazakh woman refutes her. She said that the mosque administration stirs up the guards against ‘all outside poor people.’)

You can not see such a disgraceful situation either in mosques in other countries or in Christian churches in Kazakhstan. How will Ratbek-khadzhy save spiritual consent in the country? Actually, what a holy instruction can we expect from the mosque, that hires the armed guard?

As far as secular affairs are concerned, the main political event of the week was the telephonic talk of the new Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the Kazakhstani President Nazarbaev. Even the Kazakhstani Presidential press service does not know the content of the conversation, Interfax-Kazakhstan states. Of course, Putin and Nazarbaev did not just congratulate each other with Christmas and Oraza Ait. On the same day Putin talked to the President of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akaev. That was the seventh working day of the acting President. On his first day, January 1, Putin visited Chechnya, handed orders to people who distinguished themselves during the bloodshed. The first working week Putin devoted to the most important problems. The turn of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan was on the seventh day. What will Russia’s foreign policy accents be in the new situation?

According to some Kazakhstani opposition politicians, Russia will toughen pressure on its closest southern neighbor. Now there may be some misunderstandings between Astana and Moscow. Russia has enough both political and economic ways to supervise Kazakhstan, including the only export oil pipeline, transport and power tariffs. A bit before Boris Yeltsin’s retirement Kazakhstan and the USA agreed on the Caspian oil routes missing Russia. Now we have to treat the Kremlin in a different way. It is not easy in the present situation.

On January 4 the Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev held the first governmental meeting in this year. First of all they discussed Nazarbaev’s task to liquidate unemployment within the next three years. In 2000 they plan to achieve power independence. In particular, it is supposed to decrease the oil export to 22 million tons. Thus, the government is going to affect private oil companies.

Comments by THE GLOBE:

The guards of the main Muslim temple of the country forcing out people seem similar to methods applied to by the secular authorities in Kazakhstan. The ‘perestroyka handle’ (once people called so the police truncheon) is especially notable. Probably, the guard decided to persuade ‘outsiders’ to stop infringing the ‘order’. Obviously, people having real power (we think, the above-mentioned guard is one of these people) got used to the ideology of the police state so, that they cannot imagine it is possible to behave in another way, even in the mosque. We would like to ask Nasanbai-uly: was it impossible to order the guards not to touch outside poor men at least during these Ramazan days holy for all Muslims?

THE GLOBE based on materials from the Kazakh Service of Radio Liberty 09.01.99

(Translated from Kazakh by THE GLOBE, full text)


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