Bakhytzhamal BEKTURGANOVA, President of ASaP
Almaty, Jan 27
703 persons were questioned
The third period of Nazarbaev’s presidency started. One year has passed after his last inauguration.
How did you social status change for the previous year?
(% in the column)
|Options of the answers||Total||Men||Women|
|Is at the same level||33.3||34.9||32.1|
|It’s difficult to answer||0.9||0.0||1.5|
What is your financial status? (% in the column)
|Options of the answers||Total||Men||Women|
|Of scanty means||63.6||57.6||68.1|
If the Presidential election were held on January 10, 2000, would you vote for N. Nazarbaev? (% in the column)
|Options of the answers||Total||Men||Women|
|It’s difficult to answer||26.8||21||31.1|
What phase of its development does Kazakhstan experience?
(% in the column)
|Options of the answers||Total||Men||Women|
|It’s difficult to answer||41.2||35.9||45.2|
How did you perceive the US economic aid received by N. Nazarbaev during his recent tour to Washington? (% in the column)
|Options of the answers||Total||Men||Women|
|As an advance payment for democratization of Kazakhstan||5.3||4.3||6.1|
|As payment for the oil pipeline route Baku-Ceykhan||11.9||16.5||8.2|
|As a contribution to the strategic partnership of the USA and Kazakhstan||7.9||6.7||8.9|
|As a contribution for the US presence in Kazakhstan to supervise the geopolitical region, as Kazakhstan borders on nuclear states (Russia and China)||34.9||44.2||27.0|
|It’s difficult to answer||40||28.4||49.7|
Bakhytzhamal BEKTURGANOVA, President of ASaP
Almaty, Jan 27
687 persons were questioned
The Almaty population evaluates the role of famous statesmen in the Kazakhstan’s development (% in the column)
|Did a lot for the state||Blighted most of all||Did neither good nor harm|
How do you determine the following decisions by Kazakhstani functionaries: (% in the column)
|Beneficial||Mistake||Error||Crime||It’s difficult to answer|
|Transfer of a part of disputable lands to China||0.0||14.7||8.5||61.4||15.4|
|Transfer of the Ekibastuz Electric Power Station and the coal open-pit mine to the Russian JSC Common Power System||11.2||18.2||13.2||26.4||31.0|
|Transfer of national strategic entities to foreign management||0.0||14.5||6.5||70.8||8.2|
|The chosen pipeline route Baku-Ceykhan||5.6||6.2||6.6||6.5||75.2|
How do you estimate the efficacy of K. Tokaev’s activity as the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan? (% in the column)
|Options of the answers||Total||Men||Women|
|It’s difficult to answer||48.3||41.4||53.6|
Sergei KURATOV,member of the ecological society Green Safety
ALMATY, Jan 27
(Specially for THE GLOBE)
The Land does not Belong to the Man, as
the Man Belongs to the Land
The land is the main natural resource that is the base of any human activity. Man bound with land for all his life. That is why the land issue remains one of the main issues in any society, being one of the issues of revolutions and reforms. Without a democratic solution of the land issue neither observation of human rights nor nature protection or market economy development are possible.
The central point in the land issue is the issue of ownership that acquired especial acuteness in the Republic of Kazakhstan due to transition to the market economy. Without a clear legal solution of ownership issue, i.e. who has a right to manage the property, what forms of property on land are permitted - no kind of usage and alienation of land and no measures for nature protection can be implemented effectively.
Ownership on land and other natural resources has its peculiarities, which are determined by the role of natural benefices for a the life of a separate man and of the entire society:
- All categories of population need them and demand for them constantly grows, as the population and human requirements grow;
- Their amount cannot be increased in the result of production activity;
- They could be partially substituted by other benefices;
- It is virtually impossible to determine the money value of some natural resources, because their market value does not reflect their real environmental and social value for human life;
- They are consumed not only by the human being, but also by other living things that provide human life.
It also should be taken into account that the production activity leads to a reduction of the natural benefices and to degradation of their quality. This results in aggravation of competition for resources and collision of social and private interests, growth of social tension and poverty.
Due to the aforementioned reasons, the land being the subject to commerce and recognized as the property cannot be equated with goods and services manufactured by the human being. Therefore the law prescribes to use the land rationally and purposefully, to protection it as a natural object.
Of course, for society and its members, depending on the quality, location and other parameters, the environmental and economical value of the land and other natural resources could significantly differ. This was reflected in their subdivision into resources of national and local significance. Varity of lands and their ecological, social and economical importance for human being became one of the reason for diversity of forms of the ownership for land, which even in the market society are not reduced only to the private property.
As everyone can see from the aforementioned characteristic of problems concerning the ownership for natural resources, the issue of the land in lesser or bigger extent broach interests of all strata of the population, because all people have something to do with the on land and thus, methods that are applied to settle the above-mentioned problem arise utter disappointment as a least.
Since February 28, 1990, when the Supreme Council of USSR approved “Principles of the USSR legislation and of Soviet Republics on Land” the new stage of the development of ownership on land in the countries of the former USSR had begun. Upon defining the main trends in development of the legislation, the aforementioned document assumed that some of important issues, including issues on private property on land should be settled by Republics themselves. Upon the collapse of the USSR, the Republic ran into a difficult problem, which every country had to resolve depending on the economical situation, arrangement of internal political forces, managerial experience, traditions and many other factors.
Either the Land Code of the Republic of Kazakhskaya SSR (art.3.1) or Constitution 1993 (art.46) failed to introduce anything principally new into the problem of the private property on land. In Constitution 1993, while the private property was recognized, land and other natural resources were announced as “exclusive State property” (art.46). Property subjects should be defined by the law. In other words, regarding natural resources Constitution 1993 repeated the clause of Constitution of USSR 1977 (art.11).
Nevertheless, in the result of the adoption of “The Principles of the USSR and Soviet Republics on Land” a number of significant changes occurred. First, “instead of administrative methods of legal regulation of land relationships, the economical-legal regulation came) (B. Erofeev, Land right, p. 14). Second, the trend for liquidation of the State monopoly (in fact, of top officials) on land and natural resources appeared. Third, democratization of the society, economic reforms, gradual alteration of the role of Councils and their transformation into representative elected authorities caused the necessity to determine concrete subjects of property and to deny identifying of the proprietor as the State. That need deepened also because for the first time the propriety of not USSR but of Kazakh SSR on its mineral resources, forests, water resources, flora and fauna were confirmed.
“The realization of the property right” on natural resources, including land, were secured to the Supreme Council by the legislative and supreme representative body, which applied to the right on behalf of people. In fact, the property on land and other natural resources could get into the hold of the representatives of people, and prerequisites for that began to form, that made our legislation closer to ones of advanced powers, for example to the USA, where “The Congress has a right to dispose with territory or other propriety that belong to the USA and to issue any corresponding Decrees and Acts” (the US Constitution, art.IV,3)
In 1995 the situation dramatically changed and acquired features similar to those in Russia. The Councils in Kazakhstan were liquidated and the issue on subjects of property undergone through the revision. The Parliament was established in accordance with the Constitution 1995 and didn’t receive the status of a proprietor of the land and of natural resources. According to the Constitution 1995, the Parliament was not mentioned in the Decree “On Land” of 1995, and the bill of the new law “On Land” either did not mention it. This bill was under discussion in summer 1999. The Parliament was not mentioned in the laws: “On environment protection”, “On specially protected land reservation”. However, “the sacred place never being deserted”, so the aforementioned laws again stipulated the formulas, such as “State property”, “State as the proprietor” along with the subsequent description of powers of executive bodies.
One of the reasons for changes to relationships on the land sphere was the imminent necessity to introduce the private property on land, which was legalized by the Constitution 1995 and by the Decree “On Land” in 1995. It is also proposed to be introduced on agricultural land by the new law “On land”. The reason sounds rather convincing, but while putting aside an issue on subjects of propriety let’s vent back to the issue on subjects of property. Beginning from 1995 not only trend to introduction of private property on land appeared, but also a trend for regular alteration of subjects of property on natural resources, including lands that were not transferred into private property.
Who gains due to such substitute then? Shortly speaking, State Officials who in the result of such a manipulation again acquired the opportunity to dispose the land as proprietors manifesting, in fact, their inability for the new management and main thing their reluctance to do so. The fine words of the Constitution 1995 - “The only source of power is people” - which is implemented by him “Immediately via the republican referendum and free election and also delegate to execution of their authority to the State bodies” (art.3) remains only words, because Officials who were at power at the time of USSR and their successors refuse to let the reins of government out of their hands. One more time people were deprived of their status of the proprietor, which people had not felt yet.
While working out the legislation, the distinct trends to weaken the legislative functions of the Parliament to consolidate the local authorities contradictory to the central ones, abolishing distinct division of power and property, to weaken responsibility of Officials for violation of the law on environment, for destruction of the economic mechanism. This was to stimulate measures on protection of the nature.
In Russia, behind the foggy formula “the state property” facts of uncontrollably and wide spread sale by Official of the State Office on arbitrary prices of lots and lands purposed for agriculture or other for housing and summer houses building, are hidden. The same future awaits us as well, if the Parliament and all democratic forces do not stop being reaction in it essence recoil back to administrative methods of regulation in land relationships by Officials of State Office who seems to identified themselves with people of Kazakhstan.
The issues on subjects of propriety and of private propriety on land are issues of special importance and should be solved by power of people through the national referendum, but not by Officials. In fact, these issues are referred to as most insignificant problems and extremely obscured, while recommendations of project of the Land Code of CIS (art 6) were ignored. It will be of no use to discuss any purposeful and rational use of land and efficient measures on land protection in conditions of such a legal chaos. That chaos does not lead to the civilized market, but masks the market extremism, which is needed by everyone who behind disguise of inflated words on good of people strive to satisfy exceptionally their own private interests.
There is the only way-out from the present situation. People have the right to be the proprietor and they must get the ownership for the land and other natural resources realized via their representatives in the Parliament. Only in this case everyone can hope for a democratic solution of the issue on the land. Representatives of people, but not of the State Office must dispose with common national assets and decide the fate of their natural resources. The property right remained in the hold of Officials of the State and that contradicts to principles of a lawful democratic state.
The Parliament should also implement control on execution of legislation on harmonization of all national and local interests. Use and protection of common national natural resources, for example, lands of protected forests and of national parks, lands of historical and culture importance presume distinct division of property rights and ownership rights and powers between different branches of the authorities. The register of natural resources and of land of the national and local significance should be asserted.
The issue on especially valuable lands of the national significance and on measures on the environment protection also should be resolved by the Parliament, since there is no simple and clear answer. There are two major methods in the World to regulate the propriety on natural resources purposed for their protection, and rational use. One of them is based on assumption that it would be impossible to force private owners to carry out measures on environmental protection against their will. Therefore on especially valuable lands that are in private propriety, their owners should willingly implement measures on environmental protection. Otherwise, their land will be the subject to forcible redemption into the state propriety. The second method is predominant in the Europe and in Japan. It is based mainly on the use of market mechanisms redemption of private owned lands in the State property purposed for carrying out of environment protection measures employs much rarer. As all created by human these methods suffer from imperfection. Therefore it not be worth for Kazakhstan, country where there were no market relationships to strive to become at once “more market like” than developed countries and also be not worth to stick to administrative methods of regulation of relationships on land.
The first of aforementioned methods could be asserted in Kazakhstan due to lack of traditions and undeveloped institute of private property on land with long and possible incomplete transition to the private property on land. However, even in case if the second approach to be asserted, taking into account peculiarities of property mentioned above one must distinctly understand and legislatively secure limited character of private property on land and other natural resources.
These are to be initial steps on the way of long-term and difficult process of development of new forms of property and their formation in our Republic.
ALMATY, Jan 27
THE GLOBE interviewed a member of the political executive committee of the party People’s Congress of Kazakhstan Gulzhan Yergalieva on the Law on land:
- Whom does the land belong to?
- In 1993, when the first Constitution of the republic was approved, our party offered the following wording of the article on the land: the land and soils belong to people. The governmental bill provided the following: the land and soils belong to the state. Despite arguments by our faction, most parliamentarians voted for the government’s variant. The new Constitution of 1995 provided the same wording. That is why this article became the law to justify robbing of the rich Kazakhstani land, we think.
We should clarify, what the state is and what the people are?
People are the source of the political power, but they cannot own the only property – the land, as it belongs to the state. That is why there are different opinions on what the state is. In our opinion, the state means some tens of functionaries, who are constantly changed. Hence, the main wealth of the population that it inherited from thousands of generations of its forefathers, suddenly belongs to temporary rulers. They (functionaries - editors) have the right to sell deposits and manage this property.
Ten years ago Kazakhstan was one of the richest provinces of the world. Today Kazakhstan does not possess this wealth, as, in fact, it has been sold on behalf of the state, but not of people.
The point is that most people do not know what the state is. The state is the ruler elected by the population, and the owner of the country, on the other hand.
Olzhas Suleimenov compares the state with the house-manager, who is to provide regular power, gas, etc. for a definite salary. But due to the law illiteracy of inhabitants, the state becomes the sole master of the house.
Today the national strategic lands have been sold. What if the land belonged to the Kazakhstani people? In this case none deposit would be sold to foreign companies. In some Arabian countries foreign companies assisted to exploit deposits. But none of them received the control shareholding. At present at such big deposits as Tengizchevroil the sale of the Kazakhstani shareholding may be sold.
In 1993 we offered to introduce the civil quote on the natural reserves. We still persist on this. The meaning of the offer is as follows: each citizen has an account in stable banks and from each ton of oil or metal, etc. interests are transmitted to these accounts. Of course, at present it is difficult to open accounts for each of 14 million of Kazakhstani people. But it is possible to open accounts for children born in 2000. Today, according to statistics, the annual rate of birth is not more than 100,000. We may start from this stage. For each newborn we should open an account and from sold natural resources a definite amount is to be transmitted until the child is 18. Thus, from one hand, the adult will have a definite money reserve. On the other hand, for this period (as this account is inviolable) the state earns the great financial capital. that is why it is profitable for both citizens and the state. In this regard, citizenship becomes important and has an economic basis.
If this article is introduced, naturally, the political mechanism of the Constitution is to change. What is ‘master-people’? First of all, it is elective bodies. It is possible to entrust them to manage distribution of the common property. That means that this supplementation to the Law will cause the change to the Constitution as a political mechanism.
- Was the offer by PCK regarding the supplementation to the article 6 of the Constitution taken into consideration by the government?
- On October 8, 1999 during the election campaign our party held the meeting. We approved the appeal, the essence of which concerning this issue was clear. The idea “we are masters of the land” should be the national idea and consolidate the Kazakhstani people. The appeal was signed by 44 organizations (all public movements, big scientific institutes, creative unions, public foundations, and parties, except the Civil Party and Agricultural Party). We sent it to the President, government and Parliament. For the time being we have not received any reply. We think, the offer is either being considered or ignored.
Once the new Parliament was formed, on November 25 Olzhas Suleimenov appealed to new parliamentarians to organize the Parliamentary Association “Land to People”. It is supposed to consist of independent parliamentarians. Leaders of some parties, including Communist Party, some members of Otan, and independent parliamentarians supported our idea.
Besides, we probated the idea among wide masses, spreading the questionnaire with the question “Do you support our party’s offer on supplementation to the article?” we have received and still receiving a great number of signatures. Today the list consists of about 250,000 signatures.
Interviewed by Aigul MYRZATAI
ALMATY, Jan 27 (THE GLOBE)
The land means wealth, nobody disputes this formula. The fact that we have the capital beneath our feet is to give us hope.
Ownership of the land is good, but when we speak of the land of a settlement of the national importance we associate it with a tasty pie. To divide it correctly and fair is a difficult task.
THE GLOBE asked Beisen Ibraev, the deputy the director of the national municipal company Almatyzherkadastar to comment of the issue.
First of all, Ibraev expressed his disagreement on the wording ‘land to people.’ In this case the appropriator of the land is depersonalized. When we speak about that the entire land belong exclusively to people, who will be responsible for, let’s say, an irrational usage of the plot? Ibraev emphasized that only the state through the authorized organizations is able to follow purposefully the policy on land relations.
Beisen Ibraev reminded that according to the decree of the President of Kazakhstan having a law force “On land”, lands of settlements may belong to individuals. In accordance with this provision, auctions for sale of plots to both individuals and juridical persons are being held in Almaty. Ibraev said that among all republican towns, the land of the southern capital is the most expensive. In fact, at present there are no free plots in Almaty.
Ibraev stated that today only insignificant part of lands of settlements belongs to individuals. The land market has entered the second phase of its development – the market value of the plot is important. It is determined taking into consideration many factors. In the town to determine the value of a plot, its location (closeness to the industrial center) plays the main role.
In conclusion Beisen Ibraev emphasized that any sale-purchase of land proves the demand. In the southern capital we watch the demand exceeding the offer. Hence, the city Akimat introduces definite requirements while transferring a plot to individual ownership.
From the editors: we should say that when Vladimir Putin became the Russian Prime Minister, the relations between Kazakhstan and Russian changed significantly. In particular, this concerns the media and the illumination of Kazakhstani events. Russians are preparing for an economic ‘invasion’ to the former Soviet republic after the Kazakhstani pipe of the state oil property was isolated from Russia for a long time. Not to use their trumps, in particular, ‘modern’ informational technologies is quite a sin, from their point of view. Especially, if they take into consideration that for the time being Vladimir Putin is outside criticism. For the time being…
We may consider the below material by the famous Russian journalist from this point of view. Without media, the Russian business cannot withstand in Kazakhstan with its peculiar business methods, even if Putin support it while penetrating into Kazakhstan. So, we should be ready.
On the other hand, ugly Tazhin’s puzzles really arouse – or may arouse – normal irritation of the normal man. But it is you who must judge, dear Reader.
Let’s start from afar. For the previous decade a lot of left-oriented youth grew up. Once I saw modern Komsomol members singing an ancient song to the Cuba n Ambassador: “Komsomol members, volunteers, you should believe and love selflessly!” The left-oriented youth gathers not only at meetings, but also on Internet filling different sites with stories about horrible capitalism and fine socialism.
For them I will tell a story how 20 years ago I bought my first Doro type-writer in a commission shop. It seemed to be a trifle. So, when I brought it home, policemen came to me three times and demanded documents for the type-writer. Communists feared typewriters belonging to individuals, as they could type different propagandistic leaflets. That time no Russian Internet with a normal human conversation on any topics was impossible.
The situation in Moscow 20 years ago seems to repeat in Kazakhstan today. It is very sad. So, in this country secretly the new law on telecommunications was issued. This law, in particular, significantly restrains freedom of distribution of the information in the Kazakh Internet.
But that was not enough for the country’s authorities. They decided to issue another law, especially on the Kazakh Internet. Its objective is to monitor rigidly the circulating political information. President Nazarbaev’s advisor on security issues and the chairman of the Security Council Marat Tazhin ordered to establish a commission to study the experience of the Burma government to monitor Internet.
Hence, the Kazakh law will be similar to the Burma one.
Burma that now is called Myanma is a very serious state. The military dictatorship established there the most toughen control in Asia for computer networks. Even Chinese users’ life is easier. In Burma a person is imprisoned for a long time even if he has a computer unconnected with Internet, if he has no special license. To have an E-mail box or a web-page it is necessary to receive a special permission by the Interior Department. The only cyber-cafe located in Rangoon has twenty separate computers, on which people play ideologically correct games.
In the end of the previous week the authorities of this south-east country, which has plenty of heroine only, prohibited from placing the political information in Internet, as it could do harm to the state’s interests. In this situation Chinese dissidents manage to place illegally electronic leaflets and to send secrete messages. In Myanma it is not possible, as the only national provider Myanma Posts&Telecom closed all sites that had something to do with the policy, at once. Possibly, the same will happen in Kazakhstan.
We may have an appropriate question: why does President Nursultan Nazarbaev need to pressure on Internet users? Under the present authoritarian regime in almost all former eastern Soviet republics none a hair of subordinates is touched, if the ‘nationally elected’ presidents do not know. Naturally, the authoritarian ruler extremely needs to monitor the information.
But we should not forget on what soil this authoritarian system grew. It grew on the same one – communistic. It is enough to remind phases of Nazarbaev’s biography. He was born in 1940. In 1962 he entered the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) and became the party organizer of the workshop. Later there were no workshops in his life, but he advanced from the town party committee to oblast committees, from oblast committees to the Central Committee of Kazakhstan, from the Central Committee to the Political Bureau of the Communist Party. In 1991 he broke off the CPSU and nationalized its all property. To be more accurate, he established his presidential control for this property. I give this information exclusively for left-oriented owners of Internet sites.
Of course, it was difficult for Nazarbaev to approve this law. Hence, it was prepared secretly. During Nazarbaev’s meeting with Albert Gore the Kazakhstani leader assured the US Vice-President that he would encourage freedom of the national Internet. However, he would try to issue the law for Bolsheviks, even if they are former Bolsheviks. There are no unsolvable situations. He will smother users and attract US creditors.
ALMATY-BOSTON, Jan 27 (THE GLOBE)
Putin’s new appointment, the Chechen “victorious” war- related consolidation of Russian society, and at last, the current tough (and as expected, more tough in future) SIC- oriented policy of the new administration of the acting Russian President - these are the main stimuli for new windings of publications inthe nearest future of Central Asian countries.
One of the most pessimistic, moreover, maybe most realistic viewpoint is that of analysts from Stratfor (Stratfor Special Report, January 13, 2000):
“The whole of the region is ripe for being seized by any vigorous group aspiring to acquire the outskirts of the former empire. Turkey and the United States, having found the price to big to interfere, actually abandoned remote Central Asia (to the exception of their oil interests). Iran and China are to a certain extent interested in regional border issues but they don’t have enough strength to penetrate the whole region and dominate there. So neighboring friendly Russia (notwithstanding its current problems) remains the most appropriate candidate for this role. It is quite possible that Russia may be opposed by regional powers thanks to its former image of colonizer. However, no state can challenge Russian hegemony in the region. Moreover, Central Asian countries are too weak to somehow resist Russia”.
The Stratfor analysts also circumscribe possible variants of dividing the Central Asian trophy: “If Russians successfully put everything in order in their own domain they will understand that they can through diplomacy, political manipulating or by overt force capture the southern states at their borders. Uzbekistan also can find its own niche and capture the areas where Uzbek population prevails. Iran’s attention may be attracted by Northern Turkmenistan”.
So “the geopolitical cards have been given to the gamblers, the first steps were made; here they are (most notable): SIC, Baku-Jeihan, the partnership for peace, the Kazakhstan-Chine pipeline. It seems, the 19th century Big Game begins once again”. The ten years of independence were spent in vain, say analysts from Stratfor. In fact, each Central Asian President is mainly preoccupied by strengthening his personal power, neglecting necessity to develop local and geopolitical security. “Presidents Nazarbayev, Karimov, Niyazov and, to a lesser extent, Akayev did so. This mistake is being constantly aggravated by unrestricted aggressive personal power that, notwithstanding its weakness, does not miss any opportunity to flatter Russia”.
In the Stratfor specialists’ opinion, it is too late to build the system of domestic security in Central Asian countries, i.e. to develop democracy, thus consolidating societies: “The Central Asian governments are so isolated (from their peoples, in particuliar, - N.A.), they are so fragile and obsessed by their personal ideas that now it is too late to consider political liberalization (that would speed up the failure of Central Asia). Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and maybe even more distant and densely populated Uzbekistan will either utterly agree to Russian domination or cease to exist as independent states and disintegrate into zones of influence of Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and, possibly, the United States. Kyrgyzstan can survive thanks to its semi-democratic government and its friendly relations with neighboring countries. But for its survival, the highest degree of diplomacy should be practiced (or an ability to rest satisfied, like Nepal, with a more modest role)”.
It was not accidental that I so fully detailed the aforementioned viewpoint. Not only because the authority of Stratfor backs it. This viewpoint is near and dear to me too. Indeed, what kind of social stability is it if it depends on the will of one man, on his health, his affiliations and if it’s not supplemented with a system of succession of power?! This situation is especially characteristic for Kazakhstan with its scanty population of different nationals and its high level of emigration (the country lost 10% of its population during 10 years of independent “development”).
Obviously, Stratfor’s pessimism concerning Central Asian countries’ ability to resist Russian influence is not in a least degree caused by the resignation of old and ill Eltsin as well as by the appointment of tough and pragmatic leader Putin. We would like, in our turn, to pay attention to the short-term (in comparison with Stratfor’s analysis) perspectives of Kazakhstan as a state and a society. In this regard, we are interested in: Tokayev’s visit to Moscow, today’s interests of Russian businessmen in Kazakhstan (what awaits them in future, in general), and at last, pros and contras of Russian invasion.
Russian Media on Tokayev’s Visit to Moscow
or When We Say “Aktobemunai” We Mean “Uzen”
“Kazakhstan completely orients in the direction of integration with Russia in all economic and humanitarian spheres”, the Kazakh Premier Kasymzhomart Tokayev was cited as saying by Russian “Vremya MN” on the eve the CIS summit (January 19). “Nezavisimaya gazata”, closely affiliated with Central Asian leaders, published on January 20 similar material: “Nursultan Nazarbayev decided to remove all (!) problems between Moscow and Astana”.
“It seems as if Kazakhstan did not close its borders for Russian goods”, says Evgenii Shelgunov, observer of the “Eurasia” Internet site.
“It seems as if Nazarbayev did not sign in Istanbul the agreement on the Baku-Jeihan project that utterly ignored the interests of Moscow… as if Astana did not introduced double taxation for Russian imports… as if the commodity circulation between the countries did not decrease by 40% last year” and so on and on.
Further, regarding peculiar oil-democratic values of Kazakh-American relations, the “Eurasian” journalist closely affiliated with Nazarbayev’s main opponent Akezhan Kazhegeldin says: “The demonstration of solidarity with Moscow is especially important on the eve of serious changes of intentions of American partners”.
“The grip of Moscow becomes more and more tight. Centralization and strengthening of power in Russia will not offer a convenient niche for Nazarbayev’s multilateral maneuvering. Moreover, Putin, most probably, will try to strengthen Russian political and economic influence in Kazakhstan through energy and railway tariffs as well as through quotas for Kazakh oil. The strategic problem of transportation of Kazakh oil through Russia remains” (Shelgunov, “The Central Asian bulletin”, January 7).
It is not obvious whether Russia has already shaped its strategy for Central Asia. After having practiced Gaidar’s method of pushing the former Soviet republics out of Russian economic zone, having experienced the complete uncertainty of Chernomyrdin’s rule of 1990s closely linked with the first Chechen war catastrophe, the country drifted right into Putin’s hands. Obviously, now Moscow is not inclined to delay the solution of problems.
The Russian society as a whole as well as the Russian elite is interested in expansion, or at least, in imitation of expansion into former Soviet republics, as a first step. Russia had lost temper after Kazakhstan twice slapped her in the face by banning rocket launches from Baikonur (that in full swing of Chechen war!). It’s high time to put the Central Asians along with Chechens in good order, decided Moscow.
So the clumsy Astana’s response at the blasts of “Protons”, Nazarbayev’s multilateral maneuvering in foreign policy and bans for Russian business in Kazakhstan predetermined Moscow’s tough position. In the end of September, just after the second ban on the rocket launch from Baikonur, Bladimir Putin himself paid a visit to Astana. Maybe, Eltsin’s resignation was a decided matter at that time. Probably, an idea of Tokaiev’s visit to Moscow, designed to soften Putin’s heart, appeared at that time.
Obviously, Putin initiated discussions not only on problems of Baikonur but on problems of Russian joint stock company in Ekibastuz as well as on Magnitogorsk problems of Sokolovsk-Sarbaisk group of mining enterprises. Most probably, the argumentation touched the issue of transportation of Kazakh oil through Russian pipelines for the price of $25 per barrel. If I were a wicked tongue, I would say that Tokayev nearly crawled to January cold Moscow on his knees.
In late autumn, after Putin’s visit to Astana, the Russian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Valery Nikolaenko said at the opening ceremony of a small service center of LUKOIL: “Russian business will come to Kazakhstan!” That was his first and the last statement; in the end of December his mission was over.
Boris Rumer, a well-known specialist on Central Asian economies commented the January visit of Tokayev the following way: “In the twinkling of an eye, pragmatist Putin had resolved all problems which were for many years regarded in Russia as insolvable” (from discussions at the Harvard University seminar).
Let me remind the way of solving Kazakhstani-Russian problems during President Eltsin’s rule. In late autumn of 1999, THE GLOBE published, with reference to a press release, the information on increased transportation of Kazakh oil through Russian pipelines. What is important, the accord about it was achieved not at the presidential level! This is characteristic of Boris Eltsin’s style of management, he usually laid responsibilities on lower officials.
On January 11 Russian “Izvestiya” suddenly attacked “Aktobemunai”, Kazakkhstan’s oil project, of which 60% share belongs to Chinese National Oil Company. The company was accused of firing 2000 workers as well as of not developing the investment program.
What’s the matter? Why Russians are so worried by Kazakhstan’s affairs? And why does “Izvestiya”, affiliated with its boss LUKOIL, attack the Chinese?
Everything can simply be explained. At the 1997 privatization tender the Chinese won (from American AMOKO) not only “Aktobemunai” but also 60% of “Uzen”, Kazakh second after “Tengiz” major oil field producing 5 mln tons annually. Nobody in Astana concealed that the results of the tender would depend on Nazarbayev’s multilateral policy. Astana was dissatisfied with SHEVRON’s tough position (the latter was always engaged in quarrels with the local administration, ecologists and geologists), let alone constant “democratic attacks” against Nursultan Nazarbayev and other Central Asian leaders.
It is important for us that a year later the Chinese were not interested in Uzen and “Uzenmunai” was put on the balance-sheet of “Kazkhoil”. One may think now Russians aim at Uzen in relation of Putin’s policy.
This why “Izvestiya” so eagerly interferes… Uzen is only one example. It is obvious that Russians aim at many things in Kazakhstan.
Notwithstanding common Soviet past, the situation with business in Kazakhstan and Russia differs. In Kazakhstan, nearly all major businesses concentrate around the President. So all serious appeals of foreign and local businessmen are addressed to Nursultan Nazarbayev himself. Usually it is done in private manner. Such kind of things does not go in Russia just because Russia is too big.
Kazakh President suppresses all attempts of public discussions in major businesses…
Russians are not used to act in Kazakh manner. Obviously, they will have to use the media. And maybe this will become the most important positive phenomenon of Putin-guided Russian business in Kazakhstan. Russians, Americans and all others may profit from it.
Kazakhstan has to choose: either the West with its demands of democratic developments, Russia or Central Asian neighbors, or maybe even China.
We have tried to show that Russian invasion may have positive effects in changing Central Asian regimes.
On January 21 this work has been partly discussed at the Harvard University Davis Center, Boston.
Special thanks to Mr. Marshall Goldman and to Boris Rumer for useful discussions and hospitality.
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