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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06ASTANA712 2006-12-01 12:09 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana


DE RUEHTA #0712/01 3351209
R 011209Z DEC 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L ASTANA 000712 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2016 
Classified By: Amb. John Ordway for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
1. (C) Summary: In separate meetings with the Ambassador on 
November 27, opposition figures Galymzhan Zhakiyanov and 
Zharmakhan Tuyakbay stated that they do not expect near-term 
political reforms in Kazakhstan.  Neither could predict 
whether President Nazarbayev will alter Kazakhstan's current 
political system.  Despite his skepticism, Tuyakbay said that 
his party, the Social Democrats, will attend the last meeting 
of Kazakhstan's Democratization Commission.  Zhakiyanov 
suggested that Nazarbayev is losing touch with the views of 
ordinary citizens, pointing to three recent proposals that he 
categorized as mistakes - banning right-hand drive cars, 
restricting gambling to two provincial cities, and shifting 
the Kazakh language from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet. 
End summary. 
2. (C) In separate meetings with the Ambassador on November 
27, Galymzhan Zhakiyanov and Zharkmakhan Tuyakbay, leader of 
the Social Democrat Party, expressed their doubts that 
President Nazarbayev will fulfill recent promises of 
democratic reform.  Zhakiyanov believes that the GOK will 
feel no pressure to press for reforms if it fails in its bid 
to chair the OSCE in 2009.  Tuyakbay warned that each time 
President Nazarbayev travels to the U.S., he makes promises 
that he does not keep.  According to Tuyakbay, Kazakhstan's 
Democratization Commission has also proven a failure.  He 
told the Ambassador that most suggestions made by the 
Commission's working group have been rejected.  He expects 
minimum reforms will result, but he did add that the 
Commission should not be disbanded and that his party will 
attend the group's final meeting (Comment: Among the 
opposition, only Alikhan Baymenov of Ak Zhol has participated 
in previous sessions of the Democratization Commission. End 
3.(C) Both Zhakiyanov and Tuyakbay were uncertain as to 
whether President Nazarbayev will seek to alter Kazakhstan's 
political system.  Tuyakbay believes that Nazarbayev merged 
the pro-government parties to provide them time to develop 
and in order to manage them more effectively.  He thinks that 
Nazarbayev may choose to create a party-list system similar 
to Russia's, believing that the ruling coalition will be able 
to take 80 to 90 percent of the seats.  Zhakiyanov feels that 
Nazarbayev will wait for results of elections in Russia 
before proposing any reforms, and that any changes will 
mirror those made in Russia.  Both mentioned Singapore as a 
political model attractive to Nazarbayev. 
4. (C) Tuyakbay discussed the status of the Social Democrat 
Party, which recently had its registration suspended by the 
Ministry of Justice soon after submitting a party list with 
127,000 supporters (and another 50,000 waiting to join, 
according to Tuyakbay)(Note: 50,000 signatures are required). 
 The Ministry claimed it could take longer to verify the 
signatures.  Tuyakbay said he had an additional 20,000 
signatures ready to submit to overcome the disqualifications 
of the ones he had submitted.  He also reported that 
President Nazarbayev promised to register the party if 
Tuyakbay promised not to criticize him personally. 
Nevertheless, Tuyakbay believes the party will ultimately be 
registered.  The party's support is strongest in southern 
Kazakhstan and in the country's regional centers, he said, 
but the party has activists and an established network 
throughout the country. (Comment: Tuyakbay stated that one of 
the party's principal goals is to improve the standard of 
living of ethnic Kazakhs.  This emphasis is likely to lessen 
the party's popularity in northern Kazakhstan.  End Comment) 
5. (C) Tuyakbay believes that Kazakhstan needs a unified 
opposition, and he told the Ambassador he may seek to create 
a union of opposition parties.  The future of "For a Just 
Kazakhstan," however, is unclear, he said.  The group "lacks 
unity" and he is undecided as to whether it should be 
disbanded.  He does not believe that the death of 
Sarasenbaiuly affected the block, as he sought its 
dismantlement and favored the strengthening of individual 
6. (C) Zhakiyanov told the Ambassador that President 
Nazarbayev has made three decisions that indicate that he 
lacks "sufficient contact with the people." First, he 
proposed limiting all gambling to two provincial cities, 
Kapchagay and Shchuchinsk, as of January 1, 2007. (Note: 
Kazakhstan currently has 132 casinos and 2,000 other gambling 
parlors, slot halls, and bookmakers.)  Next, he banned the 
import of right-hand drive cars from the beginning of 2007 
and the use of such cars from 2010, setting off organized 
protests in Almaty and in other regions of the country. 
Finally, he has advocated shifting the Kazakh language from 
the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet.  Zhakiyanov believes that 
these decisions, which he called mistakes, demonstrate that 
President Nazarbayev is not receiving adequate information. 
7. (C) Comment: Zhakiyanov and Tuyakbay's skepticism is 
shared by many in the opposition and pro-government camps. 
There are clearly various groups within the elite
 pushing for 
and against reform. President Nazarbayev has not yet tipped 
his hand, but most observers expect him to make a major 
announcement early next year on the country's political 
future.  End comment. 


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