Radio Liberty

What Corruption in Courts May Cause

The previous week in Kazakhstan was full of juridical events. The most sensational one happened in Almaty. The Minister of Justice Baurzhan Muhamedzhanov announced that bribe-takers sat in Kazakhstani courts. Corruption is especially luxuriant in Almaty. But the minister Muhamedzhanov�s statement was not the news for the population. In the previous year due to different violations 50 judges were dismissed in the country. One of them was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment.

Muhamedzhanov raged at the meeting of Almaty judges: �Before bribes by judges considered as an extraordinary violation. Today judges taking bribes are everywhere!�

What did the Minister of Justice do before? Two months ago Muhamedzhanov said that the first phase of the law reform had been successfully completed in Kazakhstan. Could this reform was realized only verbally? Radio Liberty polled some judges in Almaty. The chairman of the Auezov regional court Sapargali Daribai thinks that the speech of the Minister of Justice was rather emotional:

- The Minister of Justice gave the only concrete example. One pellet spoils a butter-skin. Hence, it is impossible to suspect all judges. I am convinced that most judges are honest. If we call all of them bribe-takers, what will we do further?

That is the opinion of one of Kazakhstani judges. His many colleagues share Sapargali Daribai�s opinion. Unfortunately, most polled judges refused to express their opinion openly. The deputy of the chairman of the Almaty city court Yerkin Kasaev asked to postpone the conversation until the next week. One of the Almaty judges was even comical:

- I am not qualified enough. That is why I cannot express my opinion regarding bribe-takers among judges.

- But you may do it as a specialist.

- There is the term of qualification of judges. Ask judges with length of service of 10 to 20 years. I do not have a proper status.

- How it can be that you have the status to judge people, but you can�t to express your opinion�

- Well, I don�t have.

- When can we call you again? When will you have the status?

- I will be granted the third degree in about five years.

For the time being the deep crisis of the Kazakhstani law system is concealed from outsiders. The corrupted court system threatens both the sovereignty and the economic safety of the country. The famous journalist Nuri Muftah comments of the situation for Radio Liberty in the following way:

- I am astonished. Judges began to take more bribes. They are getting more impudent and bold than before. These judges did not fall from the sky. That means that something wrong, abnormal and unknown takes place. In the Soviet period judges were elected, a common man could express his opinion, and candidates to judges met people face to face. People could supervise elected judges, as they had to submit reports. Now judges are appointed. If we want the court system to be just, judges � to be honest, if we want to protect human rights we ought to elect judges. The judge should be open to people.

The main problem of the court system is that it is professionally dependent. It is not neutral. Now a scandalous case is under consideration in Kazakhstan. The general Bakhytzhan Yertaev and the businessman Alexander Petrenko are under the trial for the illegal sale of fighters. On the whole, the society sympathizes with the general. As if he could not sell 40 fighters along. The general hints that he is not going to betray somebody. The contraband trade with weapons became a hidden privilege of military commanders long ago. The former head of the Defense Ministry Department, the colonel in the reserve, the public figure Kazis Toguzbaev says to Radio Liberty:

- It is absolutely obvious that they are making the general Yertaev guilty. Both the Minister of Defense and the Prime Minister knew for sure about that shameful deal with fighters. The weapon is sold without efficient public control.

At last, on Friday one of the top functionaries, the KNB chairman Alnur Musaev, talked about the general Yertaev. He said: �I do not want to press the trial. We know that the general Yertaev willfully violated both the governmental decree and the order by the Minister of Defense.�

Many analysts predict that the scandalous trial will have an idle end. According to Vremya newspaper, the trial is a political performance to trick Washington.

This week Kazakhstan changed the visa regime. The agreement on mutual acknowledgment of CIS visas became invalid. Before Uzbekistan and Russia took this measure. Now to go through Kazakhstan a special visa is required. The budget will earn US$ 15 to 20 from registration of each visa. In the previous year over 70,000 foreigners visited Kazakhstan, the Foreign Ministry states. The country�s neighbors understand Kazakhstan�s initiative. According to the Russian newspapers Izvestia and Novye Izvestia, Kazakhstan takes a reasonable step protecting itself from religious extremists and other uninvited visitors.


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

(Translated from Kazakh by THE GLOBE, full text)

From the editors:

� People say a lot about corruption in the court system in Kazakhstan. According to Interfax agency, in the last year 175 court sentences were not fulfilled in the country. Against this background it is clear that the society cannot trust to statements on successful struggle against crimes. Though, if we compare with the first half of 1990s, now streets are quieter. At the same time, a significant part of crimes � corruption � is strengthening its positions in power structures, including courts. The Minister of Justice saying that in comparison with the previous period, judges taking bribes are everywhere.

� The volume of supplied military fighters mentioned in the trial case makes us think that the head of the General Headquarter Yertaev could not even violate the governmental decree along, not to speak about the sale. If that is a political performance for Washington, will the latter believe in it? Washington did not approve the performance with alternative and multi-parties election held in the last year, though, perhaps, increase of oil prices and the agreement for Baku-Ceykhan project smoothed over the impression.

� CIS countries that before strove for some integration, now seem to realize the danger from people moving freely in the former USSR. Though, for serious extremist organizations, which have money, influence and ambitious political purposes, the changed visa regime will not create any serious obstacles.

In the issue # 1(419) dated 11.01.2000 of THE GLOBE, the material of the Kazakh Service of Radio Liberty devoted to Nazarbaev�s visit to America was inaccurately placed. We did not mention that THE GLOBE editorial staff wrote the introduction to the article, hence in the Radio Liberty column this introduction was too close to the material. In future we will try to avoid such inexactitudes.

Reactions to the Scandal Caused by the Minister


ALMATY, Jam 14


The statements by the Minister of Labor and Social Protection Nikolai Radostovets caused significant public resonance. Right after his statements on the pension reform being realized in Kazakhstan, representatives of different public pension organizations tried to refute them.

On Friday at the meeting with journalists the chairman of the Kazakhstani Financiers� Association Daulet Sembaev who previously headed the working group that worked out the conception and the pension bill.

�I think that Radostovets does not understand relations between private and state pension funds,� Sembaev stated.

He said that the statistics presented by Radostovets reveals the problem of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. This problem is connected with employment of workers without registration of corresponding documents, when their salaries are not taxed. Thus, some businessmen deal with �black cash�.

Today the difference between opened pension accounts, the number of Social Individual Codes (SIC) and concluded pension contracts is great, though their number should be identical. The approximate number of opened accounts and the number of SICs come to 3.5 million and 1.6 million respectively.

Daulet Sembaev advised Radostovets� department not to invent �America with dead souls�, but to keep the population informed of what they are doing and what they are going to do to correct the situation. The Minister should guarantee that the State Accumulating Pension Fund (SAPF) will monitor SICs, stop returning of incorrect payment orders according to lists and to give chief accountants and employers a chance to work directly with pension funds.

Sembaev called the Minister�s thesis regarding liquidation or privatization of SAPF disputable. He said that the privatization of the state pension fund may be discussed either in the end of this year or in the early 2001, when the amount deducted to SAPF comes to 25 to 30% of the current one. The state will keep the control shareholding and will be able to sell a part of them. This is stipulated by the governmental decree. The appendix to the decree gives the list of objects that are to be sold in 2000 to 2001.

Daulet Sembaev called financing the economy the strategic task on utilization of money accumulated by both state and non-state funds. How will they achieve this? Today the main part of pension savings invested to state securities. Hence, there is no problem with safety of pension money, as securities are liquid.

�I do not agree with Radostovets� plans on direct investments to the economy in this year,� Sembaev announced.

Investing pension assets to securities, funds settle significant political and economic tasks. This money covers the national budget deficit. This money is spent to pay pensions to pensioners. If in this year we withdraw up to 10% of money from securities, as Radostovets advises, we will have to reconsider the budget and to narrow internal loans increasing foreign ones.

The Minister advised to deposit a part of pension money with banks. In this case bank is to attract money from pension funds under definite guarantees and this money is in its disposal.

But the minister advises another variant. He persists that this money should not dissolve in the total credit assets of the bank. This separated money is to be used for concrete investment programs on the basis of the public investment competitions.

�If Radostovets invents these competitions as he imagines them, perhaps, this will be possible,� Sembaev said. To do that it is required to ask private banks, if they agree to attract pension money in these conditions. The bank is to bare all risks, if it fails, the bank is to repay the deposit.

Sembaev mentioned one of the biggest Kazakhstani banks Agroprombank and the situation in the petroleum sector, when Akims ordered to distribute money and to provide the agriculture with oil products.

Sembaev said that if money is deposited, banks will manage money however they want, but not as Radostovets wants.

In this case the minister will have to change laws, to gain the right to manage pension savings of the SAPF, to become a bank and to deal with project financing. �I think there are no specialists who are able now to estimate all risks in the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.� This way is unreal and dangerous.

Sembaev called the Ministry�s idea to simplify the procedure of including organizations realizing programs to improve the economy into official list of the Kazakhstani stock exchange in order to sell their stocks against pension money. He said that this problem consists of risks and responsibility, as pension money may disappear.

In conclusion the chairman of the Financiers� Association Board asked the Ministry to publish conceptions of laws on the pension systems that will be considered by the Parliament till the end of the third quarter.

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