ALEXANDER MASHKEVICH ON TRACTEBEL SCANDAL.
Correspondents of RFE/RL report that Chairman of Eurasia Bank - Alexander Mashkevich held press conference in Almaty�s National Press Club yesterday, February 2. Mr. Mashkevich confirmed the reports about his having received $55 million from Belgian company Tractebel in 1996. Tractebel had managed to get Almaty regional electricity and heating supply system under its control then. Mr. Mashkevich said that the money received from the Belgian Company was not a bribe, but a fee for works carried out by Albeli group led by him that time. According to Mr. Mashkevich, Albeli group checked all the gas pipelines in the region in order to prepare them for the switch to another mode of operations and for repair works. He said that the $55 million fee had been paid for that service. He also added that all the rumors about Tractebel�s having given a bribe to himself and two other businessmen working in Kazakhstan were �a lie�. Alexander Mashkevich told journalists that all the gossips and rumors about his having been involved in the �bribery scandal� were spread around by some top officials of Kazakhstan intentionally, in order to make him leave Kazakhstan.
RUSSIAN ZENIT ROCKET WILL BE LAUNCHED FROM BAIKONUR TODAY.
Correspondents of RFE/RL quote Kazakh mass media as reporting that a Russian Zenit rocket will be launched from Baikonur Space Complex in Central Kazakhstan today, February 3. The launch has been postponed several times this week due to some technical problems. The rocket is expected to bring a Russian military survey satellite to the Earth Orbit. In all, 5 Russian rockets will be launched from Baikonur this month.
LEADER OF KAZAKHSTAN�S WORKERS MOVEMENT VISITED US EMBASSY.
Madel Ismailov - leader of the Kazakh Workers Movement, visited US Embassy in Almaty yesterday, February 2. He met some officials of the Embassy and asked them to pay attention to the situation around human rights in Kazakhstan. Madel Ismailov was one of the active participants of the mass gathering held by his movement and elderly citizens of the former Kazakh capital on January 30. Several officers of the Kazakh National Security Committee in civilian clothes tried to take him to police station during the demonstration of protest. In all, 4 active participants of the mass action of protest, are facing administrative charges reportedly. Madel Ismailov already has spent one year in jail after his having been found guilty of �insulting honor and dignity of the Kazakh President� a couple of years ago.
DRUGS TRAFFICKER DIED IN A TRAIN COMPARTMENT.
A person who tried to smuggle 43 small packages of heroin in his stomach was found dead in a compartment of Leninabad (Tajikistan) - Novokuznetsk (Russia) by Kazakh policemen. It turned out that one of the packages containing heroin has broken in the person�s stomach, which led to the contamination of the man�s blood and to his death. Investigations are underway.
A CRIMINAL AUTHORITY ARRESTED WITH OTAN PARTY MEMBERSHIP CARD.
Serik Adambayev, who used to be one of the closest aides of Kazakhstan�s most famous criminal - Nesipbay Nasenov (Red Almaz - had been found dead in Barcelona area, Spain in 1997) was arrested by the Almaty police officers this week for illegal weapon possessing. During the arrest a card confirming Serik Adambayev�s membership of Otan Party was found. Otan party was found on the eve of the early presidential elections by supporters of President Nursultan Nazarbayev last year. Investigations are underway.
OFFICE OF EDIL-ZHAYIQ NEWSPAPER ATTACKED.
Unknown persons attacked office of independent Edil-Zhayiq newspaper in Oral city, Western Kazakhstan, this week. All of the equipment was destroyed, some documents were taken away, the newspaper�s office door was knifed. Investigations are underway.
PS. All the news are based on reports sent by correspondent of RFE/RL in Almaty - Batyrkhan Darimbet.
Feb 3 (Radio �Liberty�)
ALMATY, Feb 2
�The history of the annihilation of Jewish people is to be reflected in hearts of future generations. The humanity should not forget the tragedy of Holocaust,� Alexander Mashkevich, the President of the Jewish Congress of Kazakhstan (JCK) said on Wednesday, February 2. He told to journalists that on January 24, 2000 the JCK had participated in the Stockholm International Forum.
The Forum was devoted to the Holocaust � the tragedy of the 20th century, which was the most heinous crime not only against Jewish people, but also against the humanity. Mashkevich said that in fact for the first time after the World War people considered lessons of Holocaust and measures to be taken to immortalize the memory of its victims.
Mashkevich stated that the JCK had entered the European Jewish Congress. On January 25 to 26, 2000 the broadened executive meeting of the World Jewish Congress was held in Stockholm. Participants discussed the issue regarding immortalizing of victims� memory and compensation of their losses.
According to Mashkevich, leaders of the world Jewish organizations do not forget that Kazakhstan did a lot to save Jewish people during the World War II. This circumstance will play the main role while taking a decision on investments to the Kazakhstani economy by the above-mentioned organizations.
In conclusion Alexander Mashkevich announced that he was going to appeal to the corresponding state bodies with the request to introduce a special section of crimes against Jewish people into school educational programs.
ALMATY, Feb 2
�Accusations by the former head of the JSC Air Kazakhstan, who is at present the President of the holding Air Kazakhstan Group against me are strained,� the manager of the National Air Company Kazakhstan Aue Zholy announced on Wednesday, February 2, in Almaty.
According to Bakhytzhan Aidarkhanov, Air Kazakhstan is not satisfied with both him and his activity, as according to his applications regarding some top officers of Air Kazakhstan some ten suits were brought. Most of them were successful. A part of the administrative building was returned, the rent fee and cost of the foreign representative offices paid, three planed were returned, etc. � for the amount of 2 billion tenge.
However, Air Kazakhstan that is the main debtor of Kazakhstan Aue Zholy tries not to fulfill the court sentence that are of juridical force.
We remind you that in August 1996 the governmental decree #1030 on actual liquidation of Kazakhstan Aue Zholy was issued. The company�s assets and debts significantly exceeded its profits, though, the manager emphasized, despite great losses the air company had a positive balance.
�That time the authorities explained the liquidation of Kazakhstan Aue Zholy and establishment of Air Kazakhstan without any debts with political reasons. Today the saving of the latter from bankruptcy is explained with the political will, though debts and liabilities that come to 14 billion tenge, exceed the Share Capital almost 5 times,� he added.
The deliberate bankruptcy of Kazakhstan Aue Zholy should result in the subsidiary responsibility of the government before creditors, Aidarkhanov thinks.
�According to the last year decree #70, a part of the property of Air Kazakhstan was to be transferred to the Almaty territorial committee for the further sale, as according to the decree #1030, 100% of the Kazakhstan Aue Zholy property had been transferred to form the Share Capital of Air Kazakhstan. It appeared that all the property is non-liquid and is to be written off. But despite this, after the tender for its sale was announced, Air Kazakhstan does not give it for sale, as if they are reorganizing the property,� the manager said.
Bakhytzhan Aidarkhanov believes that the competitive production could pay off the majority of the company�s debts to creditors, if Air Kazakhstan and the Ministry of Transport and Communications did not persist on closing of the bankruptcy procedure.
ALMATY, Feb 3 (THE GLOBE)
�Foreigners are of great interest for criminals,� Berik Umurzakov, the head of the Headquarter of the Almaty Internal Department announced on Thursday, February 3. He said to journalists that in the last year 46 crimes had been conducted against foreigners, including 12 disclosed. They especially worry about the new trend of kidnapping of foreigners.
Since the last year the Almaty Internal Department along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been seeking ways to secure foreigners. The above-mentioned departments concluded that the technical security means are most appropriate.
Thus, the Almaty Internal Department, the Department working with diplomatic representatives (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the agency Bona concluded the agreement for joint provision of foreigners� safety.
William Turdyev who represented the Department working with diplomatic representatives, MFA said that a MFA foreigner is to go with policemen to the place of the supposed crime to solve diplomatic issues.
Gafura Beisenova, the Bona director said that her agency had been working in the security system market for seven years. The agency is the official distributor of the American company C&K Systems producing guard systems. She said that the proposed security system guarantees police patrol�s arrival to the crime place.
The innovation of the system is the mobile button to call the police. The client may carry the button within 20 m from the center of the system. Taking into consideration the fact that assaults are usual near the victim�s house, entrance or while he is going out a car, this technical know-how should be very effective.
ALMATY, Feb 3
British Airways did NOT declare an emergency at Almaty Airport on Sunday and our incoming aircraft had a completely normal landing without incident.
An internal message between British Airways operational staff was misinterpreted by the Almaty Airport authorities but once the situation was clarified they agreed that was NO emergency or need for concern.
By Michael Lelyveld
A legal battle between Kazakhstan and its Western-run power company has raised questions of profits and politics. It may also be a sign of one of the toughest challenges that the region faces is implementing reforms.
Boston, Feb 3
A lawsuit against Kazakhstan has highlighted the country�s mixed record on foreign investment and the problems for the entire region in managing energy and economic reforms.
On Thursday, the Financial Times reported that the Belgian energy company Tractebel has started international legal proceedings against Kazakhstan, charging the government with failing to honor its pledges to raise electricity rates.
Tractebel has been running Almaty�s electric company and power grid since 1996. It also won a 15-year concession to manage gas pipelines in the south and west of the country in 1997. But the relationship has been a stormy one, and the complaint about electricity tariffs may not be the only one that winds up in court.
Last month, the Reuters news agency and the Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported that Tractebel is being investigated in connection with alleged payments of $50 million to three Kazakh businessmen involved with the pipeline deal.
The company has confirmed the existence of Belgian and Swiss probes of possible money laundering by parties that dealt with Tractebel. It is not known whether the investigations are related to money laundering allegations by Kazakhstan authorities against former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin last year.
But the reports suggest a dark side to the business of generating heat and light. Beyond that, there may be lessons about the difficulty of connecting eastern and western economic systems, particularly when the cost of energy is concerned.
In November 1997, during President Nursultan Nazarbaev�s visit to Washington, a Tractebel official trumpeted the company�s success at a meeting of regional specialists. After taking over the power system in the former capital city of Almaty, the company moved quickly to apply Western rules of rate-setting and collections for electricity, the official said.
To Tractebel, Kazakhstan�s problems were simply a matter of supply and demand. After decades of Soviet assumptions that energy was a gift of the state, most consumers refused to pay their electricity bills. The system needed investment, but returns were too small to support it. Then, within days of taking over the city�s electric company, Tractebel�s power stations ran out of fuel.
Within months, according to Tractebel, the company turned the situation around by doubling rates and cutting off customers who refused to pay. Instead of collecting less than 30 percent of the bills in cash, Tractebel started getting over 90 percent. But the success appears to have been short-lived. Tractebel found that Kazakhstan�s problems were intractable.
In February 1998, the company and the government blamed each other for new gas shortages after public demonstrations broke out. The disagreements were resolved, but not before the government froze Tractebel�s accounts and temporarily halted privatization in the oil and gas sector. Last week, Tractebel said it has been losing money in Kazakhstan since 1998 and has made a $200-million accounting provision to cover its loss.
Tractebel�s latest attempt to raise rates and the government�s refusal to implement the hikes suggest a failure to grasp one of the reasons that Kazakhstan allowed privatization to take place. Unable to face the political consequences of imposing rational pricing on domestic power, the government hoped to shift the burden to a foreign investor, giving it both the potential for profit and the liability if things went wrong.
But even with the insulation that a foreign company provided, Nazarbaev was still unlikely to take the unpopular step of repeated rate increases, particularly in the winter. It was perhaps only a matter of time before the issues of economics and blame had to be faced again.
The problems are only a small sample of the region�s problems with energy pricing in a country that has generally won praise for privatization and market reform. Kazakhstan has attracted more foreign investment than any other country in the entire region.
In Russia, for example, the gas monopoly Gazprom collected only about 20 percent of its bills in cash from domestic users last year. Other countries, such as Turkmenistan, play it safe by promising to provide gas and power to its citizens free of charge.
The problem is that cheap power and barter are the two biggest factors that mire these economies in the past. In Russia, the effects include falling investment and sagging tax collection, as well as profiteering in trade with the outside world. Recently, Russia has suffered fuel shortages while Russian heating oil has been sold to the higher-priced markets of the United States. Higher tariffs have not restrained exports, or the forces of supply and demand.
Most of the region has avoided the sudden pain that Eastern European countries felt in 1989 when former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev decided to impose world prices for oil on the East bloc. But the result has been less integration with Western economies and a more prolonged pain.
ALMATY, Jan 31
Kazakhstan celebrated the New Year.
The Minister of Education and Science Krymbek Kusherbaev issued decrees to withdraw licenses of eight universities, including one state university and 7 private ones. The reasons for temporary withdrawal of the licenses were serious violations of the qualification standards of the educational activity and standards of the higher education, according to the press service of the Ministry of Education and Science.
In Almaty President Nazarbaev signed the agreement between Russia, Byelorussia and Kazakhstan for the simplified citizenship. Thus, Kazakhstan has settled this problem. A day before the Russia�s GosDuma ratified the document.
The technical examination of all types of cars has begun in Kazakhstan. The technical examination will last until June 30. Terms of the technical inspection depend on the type of vehicles. Passenger buses and cars will be checked once per three months, vehicles for transportation of dangerous cargo � twice a year, cars of juridical persons � once a year. The road policy will grant a certificate for cars that passed the examination. Transport that is not inspected within the stipulated terms will be prohibited from exploitation.
The first in this year meeting of the Mazhilis Bureau held in Astana. Parliamentarians considered the results of the discussion regarding changes to the law of the Republic of Kazakhstan �ON approval of the convention on international transportation of cargo and passengers by vehicles�, �On national security of the Republic of Kazakhstan� and �On institutions�. Besides, they discussed the changes and supplementation to the regulations of the Mazhilis. Parliamentarians decided to submit bills considered by the Bureau to the Mazhilis plenary meeting.
The National Bank chairman Grigory Marchenko announced that the NB would soon convert Kazakhstanis� deposits from the national currency to USD. This concerns only those deposits that were not withdrawn from banks in April, when tenge devaluated.
In Almaty the closed trial on the contraband sale of MIG-21 fighters held. The two main accused are the former businessman, former advisor of the President�s administration Alexander Petrenko and the commander of the general headquarter Bakhytzhan Yertaev. They do not consider themselves guilty. They state that the present KNB heads to defend high-rank functionaries, who got profits from the export of Kazakhstani weapons, initiated the trial.
Nurlan Kapparov, the deputy of the Minister of Energy, Industry and Trade was additionally appointed the head of the Board of Directors of the National Power Company KEGOC.
The American Corporation Chevron, which deals in Kazakhstan with exploitation of the oil and gas deposit Tengiz, announced its investment program� 2000. Chevron has invested US$ 5.2 million to work in Kazakhstan. This is by 16.5% less than in the previous year. The reduction of the investments is caused by the fact that in 1999 Chevron purchased two big objects, having spent significant amounts. The corporation bought 2 companies exploiting deposits in Argentina and South-East Asia. Hence, the company had to reduce its budget in Kazakhstan.
The validity of the law �On amnesty� expired in Kazakhstan. Over 14,000 prisoners were freed, imprisonment terms of about 2,000 prisoners decreased. The Finance Ministry spent 23 million tenge to conduct the amnesty.
In Astana at the Congress-Hall the Festival of Kazakh Song �Golden Disk� started. Its program includes performances by about 40 Kazakhstani show stars, including Nagima Yeskalieva, Madina Yeralieva, Aigul Babaeva, ABK ensemble and other famous singers.
The Kazakhstani government published the decree, which determines the limit quote on crude oil export from the country. All oil companies working in Kazakhstan, including foreign ones, will be able to export not more than twenty-two million tons of oil in this year.
The Association Kazakhstan Petroleum (AKP) that includes 30 foreign and local oil and gas companies, elected the new Board of Directors. The former APK head David Skeels and his successor Edward Verona announced that they consider the main Association�s task was to establish closer contacts with the government and the society. That means the creation of more favorable climate in the oil industry, which has been mainly achieved already: they have attracted 57% of direct foreign investments.
The meeting of the National Council on Students� Affairs held in Almaty. Having discussed students� urgent problems, participants approved the appeal to the President and the government with the urgent request to introduce order in the higher education.
At the meeting in Astana the Kazakhstani government supported changes to the current laws concerning the banking secrete. According to the National Bank chairman Grigory Marchenko, the changes �will guarantee the banking secrete to, first of all, individuals.� For juridical persons they will work out another regime, as practically all law-reinforcement organizations and tax services were against of the total introduction of the banking secrete principle for both juridical persons and individuals.
The Kazakhstani government changed some Customs duties. In particular, the amount of collected Customs duties for Customs registration of products and vehicles has been reduced to 0.4%.
The President of the National Nuclear Company Kazatomprom Mukhtar Dzhakishev declared that the company�s administration had offered the government to sell 67% of stocks to the strategic investor. According to Dzhakishev, the government agreed. At present they negotiate with foreign companies, which want to buy a part of the state shareholding of Kazatomprom. Mukhtar Dzhakishev thinks that the privatization of Kazatomprom is necessary to widen the sales of Kazakhstani uranium.
In Astana the Prime Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev summed up results of his government�s 100-days work. Among first successes of the new government are the complete payment of due pensions and state and social grants as of February 1, 2000.
The former Parliamentary Speaker and the leading politician Marat Ospanov died in Almaty. He had been in coma during three months. 50-years-old Ospanov, an economist by his education, was Nazarbaev�s powerful supporter, who headed Otan party loyal to the President. The party got 33% of Mazhilis seats during the election held in October, 1999.
In the Mazhilis spokesmen of three parties � Communist Party of Kazakhstan, Civil Party and Otan announced the establishment of the parliamentarians� group Parasat. The group consists of 25 parliamentarians. Serik Abdrakhmanov was elected the chairman of the group. The main objective of Parasat is to unite the intellectual and political experience of parliamentarians irrespective of what party they belong to. This is for the first time when the rights and the lefts are united in the single group.
In southern Kazakhstan Tashkent tried to change the line of demarcation. The Uzbek party put frontier marks in the territory of Saryagash region (South-Kazakhstani oblast). According to the press secretary of the Kazakhstani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they have sent a protest note to the Uzbek Foreign Ministry. For the time being Uzbekistan did not responded to the Kazakhstan�s accusation.
Members of the Kazakhstani survival expedition flew from Almaty to Africa. The sport club GLOTOUR organized the expedition. Participants will have to climb onto the highest peak of Africa � the Kilimanjaro (5,895 m) without any food, tents and sleeping-bags. Under these conditions the peak will be conquered for the first time. The team consists of two people: Vadim Zhuravlov and Alexander Kokarev, who will conduct their 20th expedition under new extreme conditions.
The Confederation of Kazakhstani employers established in Kazakhstan. The founders of this organization were 23 public organizations, including the Union of Industrialists and Businessmen of Kazakhstan, the Forum of Kazakhstani Businessmen, the Oil Union and the Exchange Union. The Confederation will coordinate actions and optimize interrelations between employers and workers.
The Kazakhstani Parliament received the new bill �On local self-governing�, which will introduce Akims� appointment by election. Parliamentarians plan to consider the bill in March, 2000. It is expected that Akims will be elected in Astana and Almaty in July, 2000.
In Brussels at the new technologies exhibition Evrika-99 the device invented by the Kazakhstani scientist Oleg Kazakov won the gold medal. The device is called the infra-sound therapeutic oscillator. It was considered the best presented at the exhibition. Nobody in the world uses the principle of this device. The author states that the super-low sound, which was always considered harmful for the human being, may do magic things. In fact, the device liquidates all tumors from the body. At present the device is used in the Almaty Oncological Institute. For the time being doctors cautiously estimate the device, but they say that it often helps to avoid operations.
The UNO Secretariat announced that 84 Kazakhstanis were recommended to work the organization. They had to pass the examination at first. Out of more than 200 candidates the organization selected people of the following professions: 13 � finances, 23 � administrative issues, 15 � legal issues, 7 � electronic data, and 2 � statistics. Candidates who received the highest marks at the examination to be held on February 7 to 11 in Almaty, will be invited to New York for the interview in the late 2000.
The International Confederation of the Association of Authors and Composers (ICAAC) acknowledged the activity of the Kazakhstani Authors� Association (KazAA) and decided to admit it to the confederation. ICAAC that unites about 150 national authors� associations provides security of authors� rights all over the world.
In Astana the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially announced that since February 1 Kazakhstan withdrew the agreement on mutual acknowledgement of visas of CIS countries. A Foreign Minister spokesman said the changed order of transit tour of foreign citizens via Kazakhstan �is a temporary measure to stop illegal migration to Kazakhstan, as well as to prevent illegal migrants to use the Kazakhstani territory to penetrate into other CIS countries.�
All Over the Globe is published by IPA House.
© 1998 IPA House. All Rights Reserved.