Radio Liberty

Should Kazakhstan Enter the Russian-Byelorussian Union?

In the beginning of the week the �Russian problem� became urgent, while the �Uzbek problem� was settled. On the last Sunday a sanctioned meeting was held in the Astana Youth� Palace. Participants of the meeting demanded Kazakhstan to join the Russian-Byelorussian union. On Friday the negotiations on delimitation of the border started in Tashkent. One wound threatens with abscess, the other dragged on. What is the difference between the two problems? Obviously, their simultaneous appearance is not occasional.

The Slavic movement Lad, the Cossacks� Union of the Steppe Region and the Astana regional committee of Communist Party organized the meeting in Astana. According to the Yegemen Kazakhstan reviewer Gabit Musrep, the tandem of communists and Cossacks is surprising, as they never managed to agree with each other. The main demand of the meeting is to hold a referendum on Kazakhstan�s joining the union of the two Slavic states. On Monday the meeting was supported in Almaty. The Russian Community chairman Yuryi Bunakov and the chief of Semirechye Cossacks Vladimir Ovsyannikov proposed to hold similar meetings in ten other towns. Russian leaders consider Kazakhstan unable to overcome the crisis separately, hence it should join the Russian cart. On Wednesday the issue was proposed to the Parliament. One of the communist leaders, the deputy Valerian Zemlyanov announced that they could not follow the �ostrich� policy regarding the problem. We managed to contact with Valerian Zemlyanov by phone in Astana:

- At the 1991 referendum the majority of the Soviet population, including Kazakhstani people, voted for the Union. Our President is the author of numerous initiatives (�ten steps�, etc.) on further deepening of the integration and to transform it in a powerful Union. He criticizes the CIS for its practical uncertainty and passiveness. The problem does exist. If some groups of people, parties and movements touched the problem, is it bad? Who forbids this? In fact, the article 5 of the Constitution permits political and ideological variety of opinions.

Statements by Zemlyanov are significant. In 1999 Valerian Zemlyanov was the only deputy in Marat Ospanov�s Parliament, who voted against the pre-term Presidential election and his new seven-year presidency.

The Sunday meeting disturbed the Kazakhstani authorities. For the time being the opposition structures did not express their attitude to the meeting. The Forum of Kazakhstani Democratic Forces, Orleu movement and RPPK (Republican People�s Party of Kazakhstan) dealt with current affairs. Only law-enforcement organizations were against demonstrators. On Tuesday the Civil Party cast its vote. Then Otan and the Agricultural parties joined it. On Thursday Azat declared its call. The Azat chairman Hasen Kozha-Akhmet acquainted the audience of Radio Liberty with his claims:

- Nationalism is openly raising in Russia. In Kazakhstan separatism is doing the same. Lad, Communist Party, Russian Community, Cossacks hold meetings everywhere demanding to join Kazakhstan to the Russian-Byelorussian union. These meetings do not take into account hopes of the Kazakh people, insult our national dignity, and ignore the Kazakhstan�s independence. The authorities that persecute us for annual celebration of the Independence Day on December 17, legalized separatists� meetings that make harm to our independence. We cannot understand how could the authorities register Cossack atamans as candidates to the Parliament. Thus, they allowed them to sow anti-Constitutional ideas. Separatists-betrayers try to assure us that if Kazakhstan joins Russia, this will allow it to overcome the social depression. It is a fomentation.

Can the �Russian problem� sharpen in Kazakhstan? Taking into consideration the anxiety of the parties loyal to the President, Astana is being forced to start a political trade. In March the presidential election is to be held in Russia. The oligarchy that raised Putin, hopes to return its positions in Kazakhstan. Fifteen-twenty days ago the land dispute aroused between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. According to the electronic newspaper Navigator, sudden patriotism of some Russian newspapers that made a mountain out of a molehill, is surprising. The editor of Ana Tili newspaper Sabyrzhan Shukiruly emphasizes the same metamorphose, estimating some publications by Express K, Vremya, Caravan as soliciting.

Some Kazakhstani forces may be interested in propagandizing of Russian moods, and forming the image of �Uzbek hegemony�. Some regional elite is not satisfied with the central policy. For the time being this problem is hidden. Astana receives financial waves, while it makes regional administrations to settle all problems. Only the Pavlodar Akim Galymzhan Zhakyanov repeatedly announced that without an accurate determination of the authority of central and local bodies it was impossible to make any progress. In four years Zhakyanov�s thesis was supported by the Atyrau Akim Imangali Tasmagambetov. In the last week he published his reformatory article in Novoye Pokolenye newspaper. The essence of the article is how and where budget waves are to flow. Now Tasmagambetov replaced from Astana, has to express the growing resentment of the western-Kazakhstani elite.

In this week two big meetings were held in Astana. The first one was devoted to agricultural problems. The Minister of Agriculture Sauat Mynbaev reported at the meeting.

President Nazarbaev was elated at the meeting. He appreciated reformatory successes in the agriculture.

But at the other meeting Nazarbaev criticized irresponsible ministers and Akims. The meeting, held on February 9, was devoted to the results of the last year and plans for 2000. Regional Akims were invited to the capital. They were not invited for four years, according to our information. The President made a speech, where he seriously criticized some top functionaries. Evidently, the President is dissatisfied with the policy of many regional Akims. Growing problems can hardly be settled by administrative methods. Many �knock-out� meetings were held, but the situation does not change.


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

(Translated from Kazakh by THE GLOBE, full text)

From the editors: the incident at the Kazakhstani-Uzbek border aroused a lot of rumors both in press and among experts. THE GLOBE (#8 (426)) presented the opinion of Sabit Zhusupov, who believes that the opposition in Central Asia is profitable for Russia. Russia�s passiveness concerning the Batken events only confirmed Zhusupov�s point of view that Russia has its own geopolitical interests in the region and uses the current contradictions. In this interview Zhusupov supposed that the parties would ask Russia to be a mediator. This would make it weightier in the region, as Russia will be an arbitrator. We have already the first fact proving this. About 150 people from bordering villages wrote a letter to the Russian acting President Putin requesting him to assist in settling the incident. They are disappointed in their government and decided to appeal to Moscow, as they did before. Can�t we settle the problem themselves?

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