By Scott Hogenson
22 March (CNS)
(Editor's Note: The author is representing CNSNews.com as part of a Visiting Writers Delegation to Kazakhstan at the invitation of the administration of the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan.)
Astana, Kazakhstan (CNSNews.com)
A US State Department report on Kazakhstan was singled out for criticism Tuesday by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who called the report one that was �full of untrue facts� about the country.
Nazarbayev said the Clinton Administration briefing falsely accuses Kazakhstan of holding political prisoners, torture, broad government control of the news media and misstates the process by which judges and other officials are appointed.
While acknowledging generally good relations between the US and Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev warned that the inaccuracies in the State Department's report on this central Asian country �makes the distance between the two nations larger,� and said he wanted an opportunity to �make a presentation� to correct the record.
US State Department officials were not available for comment by press time, but its 1999 report on human rights noted irregularities in that year's presidential elections and claimed Nazarbayev held the power to legislate by decree.
Federal judges and other appointed officials in Kazakhstan must be ratified by the Senate, according to the Kazakh constitution. The process is similar to that in the US, where federal judges and other presidential appointees are subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Kazakhstan also faced criticism from the Organization for Stability and Cooperation in Europe, which monitored last October's parliamentary elections and said �interference by executive authorities in the broader electoral process must be halted.�
But Nazarbayev, a former communist leader in the old USSR, pointed to the range of political parties represented in the Kazakhstan Parliament as evidence of the country's continued progress in strengthening democracy here.
The Kazakhstan Majilis, or lower house of Parliament, includes members from four political parties, including communists. The majority Otan Party, which supports Nazarbayev, holds 32 seats in the 77-member body.
Nazarbayev made his remarks through a translator during a news briefing with members of a Visiting Writers Delegation from the United States Tuesday afternoon in the capital city of Astana.
Other members of the delegation include American Spectator founder and publisher R. Emmett Tyrrell and Hoover Institution Senior Research Fellow William Ratliff from Stanford University.
Nazarbayev acknowledged some shortcomings in recent elections in Kazakhstan, and government officials attributed most of the irregularities to misunderstanding of the process. Kazakhstan declared its independence from the former Soviet Union in December 1991 and has been instituting democratic and free-market reforms for the past nine years.
Kazakhstan has also been the focus of criticism by the US-based group Human Rights Watch, which reported last year that the government was engaged in censorship and manipulation of the electoral process. However, the presence of independent media in Kazakhstan was evident in Astana and Almaty, the nation's largest city and business center.
News photographers from independent television stations in Kazakhstan were routinely visible around the nation's capital this week, and a news conference attended by an estimated 20 reporters was in progress outside Nazarbayev's office immediately prior to the president's briefing with the US Writers Delegation.
Aides to Nazarbayev also said the president meets monthly with reporters from private media to conduct the equivalent of general news conferences.
While most media were controlled by the government during Kazakhstan's inclusion in the former Soviet Union, the country has made progress in transferring news outlets into private hands since repudiating communism, and independent news organizations have sprouted in large numbers since communist rule here was replaced with democracy.
According to the Ministry of Culture, Information and Public Accord, the number of newspapers in Kazakhstan has increased from 20 to 1,000 during the past decade, with an estimated 70 percent now under private ownership.
Similarly, Culture, Information and Public Accord Minister Altynbeck Sarsenbayev said the government currently operates one television news outlet while about 100 additional private television companies exist today.
Prior to joining the Nazarbayev administration, Sarsenbayev ran The Horizon, which he described as the only independent newspaper in Kazakhstan under communist rule in 1988.
ALMATY, March 23
�We want to end the friendship that existed between Yeltsin and Nazarbayev and we demand a new policy in respect to Kazakhstan � to make economic relations dependent on the fact that the rights of Russians and of all people in Kazakhstan are observed,� the celebrated Russian nationalist Eduard Limonov said to THE GLOBE.
THE GLOBE #21(439) of March 21 wrote about the meeting that the National-Bolshevik Party (NBP) was going to hold outside Kazakhstan's embassy in Moscow. Two days before that, on Saturday, three activists attacked the embassy throwing bottles with kerosene, which fortunately did little damage, on their own initiative. A criminal case has been instituted against the activists.
�Let's take northern Kazakhstan from Nursultan,� �Let's forget Chechnya, and let's begin in Astana,� -slogans of the Tuesday meeting, in which about 50 people took part, according to the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry, although the event passed off peacefully. Limonov said they had called for the movement of Russian troops into Kazakhstan �to protect the Russians and Kazakhs in northern Kazakhstan.�
�We demand that Ust-Kamenogorsk's citizens (the group of Kazimirchuk � editors), be freed � and an end to persecution against Russian organisations in the north of your republic,� he said.
Limonov stated that the most difficult conditions for the Russian population were to be found in Latvia, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan. In the latter �an oppressive rule keeps everyone down.�
Limonov called on Akezhan Kazhegeldin, the most serious politician in Kazakhstan and main opponent of Nursultan Nazarbayev, as only he was able to satisfy requirements of both the Russians and the Kazakhs. The former Prime Minister's views are �extremely reasonable and have no racial hatred,� he believes. At present the ultra-left radical group is trying to meet with Mr. Kazhegeldin, he stated.
The leader of national-Bolsheviks said that �the NBP would continue to organise similar events, though the party was being seriously oppressed.�
THE GLOBE asked the Kazakhstan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comment on the demonstrations of Russian nationalists. The Ministry press secretary Amangeldy Tazhenov confirmed that the meeting had been authorised. According to him, the demands and statements of the demonstrators �do not enhance relations. However, neither the opinion of the party nor Limonov's statements will have any affect on state policy.�
In the evening of the same day the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan invited a representative of the Russian embassy to Astana. During a short meeting he was told that the events of March 18 and 21 cast aspersions on friendly relations between the two countries and do not meet the Treaty on eternal friendship.� The Russian diplomat was handed a request that the security of the Kazakhstan embassy in Russia be guaranteed and that similar events be prohibited in future.
ALMATY, March 23
(Specially for THE GLOBE)
Following several inquiries by THE GLOBE readers about labour legislation, we would like to remind people of the Order by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Kazakhstan, dated 15.02.2000, which approved the Instruction on the order of introduction for service records. This new labour law did not stipulate (in fact, it abandoned) obligatory service records for Kazakhstani organisations.
According to a Governmental Decree (or �GD�) dated 28.02.2000, a Kazakhstani delegation was appointed to discuss protocol for the Treaty between Kazakhstan and Russia on the delimitation of the northern Caspian seabed thus allowing sovereign rights to use the natural fuels found there.
According to a GD dated 03.03.2000, a new state company �the Production-Exploitation Association� has been established.
A GD dated 06.03.2000 approved the Agreement between the Kazakhstan government and the government of Bulgaria for co-operation in the areas of standardisation, metrology and certification.
On March 6, 2000 an order by the Kazakhstani Prime Minister was issued relating to certain questions in the JSC �Ispat-Karmet�.
On March 10, 2000 following the Presidential Decree a budget commission to calculate the national budget for 2001 was established.
On March 7, 2000 a GD approved the plan for the introduction of the Kazakhstan government's actions programs from 2000 to 2002.
On March 7, 2000 a GD on the bill �Ratification of the Agreement for parallel work of power systems in CIS countries� was issued.
On March 9, 2000 a GD on the Defence Ministry of RK was issued. The Decree determines the legal status (its authority, functions, competence, objectives and tasks) of the Defence Ministry.
On March 10, 2000 a GD approved the list of medicines, prosthetic articles, articles of medical purposes and medical equipment, as well as materials and components for production, that are to be excluded from Value Added Tax.
On March 10, 2000 a GD on the bill �Ratification of the Agreement on the US$3,400,000 loan by the Korean Export-Import Bank to the Kazakhstan Finance Ministry� was issued.
On March 13, 2000 a GD approved the �Agreement between the Kazakhstani government and the Government of Armenia for creation of a joint commission on economic co-operation�.
On March 13, 2000 a GD on the interdepartmental commission working with rating agencies was issued. The government's attention to the activities of rating agencies and the possible establishment of a special commission is caused by intention of the executive (and the entire state) authorities to control (at least indirectly) the informational resources, which rating agencies have.
On March 13, 2000 a GD on the creation of a commission for the fight against locusts, subordinate to the government, was issued. The commission is to deal with issues concerning struggle against locusts in 2000.
On March 14, 2000 a GD supplemented a previous GD dated 04.03.2000 on payment of royalty in kind and on measures to provide agricultural producers with combustive-lubricating materials.
For further information on any legal issues and services, please contact the Almaty offices of LEX ANALITIC, at the address: office 534, 15, Republican Square. Tel./fax: 63-17-11, tel.: 63-72-26. E-mail: [email protected]
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