07ASTANA204, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, JANUARY 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA204 2007-01-24 04:40 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO6389
RR RUEHAST RUEHDBU
DE RUEHTA #0204/01 0240440
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240440Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8267
INFO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1673
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 7839
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 7786
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7101
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 1992
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1369
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2174

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000204 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, JANUARY 2007 
 
REF: 06 ASTANA 919 
 
1. The "Almaty Notes" series is intended to maintain focus on 
developments in civil society, the media, and the opposition in 
Kazakhstan's "southern capital" following the move of the Embassy to 
Astana. 
 
Young Opposition Activists Jailed for Embezzlement 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
2. On December 11, the Saryarka district court in Astana sentenced 
young opposition activist Makhambet Abzhan to three years in prison 
for misappropriation of 1,337,000 tenge ($10,445) allocated for 
election campaigning.  According to press reports Abzhan, the leader 
of the youth wing of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, confessed to 
the crime.  Abzhan received the money from the state budget in 2005 
in order to campaign for a position in the Astana City Maslikhat. 
He instead used the money to publish the "Young Patriot" newspaper. 
After Abzhan was arrested in December 2005 in Kyrgyzstan and 
extradited to Kazakhstan, he repaid the money to the state election 
fund. 
 
3. Abzhan was charged with misappropriating a large sum of money. 
The procurator asked the court to jail Abzhan for seven years.  The 
court instead sentenced Abzhan to three years in prison, with an 
additional two year ban on involvement in public activities 
following his release. 
 
4. Abzhan's friend Azamat Zhetpisbayev told the press that while 
they were in Kyrgyzstan, they set up a revolutionary committee. 
They called on youth organizations of Kazakhstan to unite their 
forces and to set up a single association.  Had the presidential 
election in 2005 been rigged, they would have organized mass 
uprising.  In addition, Abzhan made a number of public statements 
asserting that Nazarbayev had no right to run for the presidency. 
 
5. Zhetpisbayev himself was arrested in Almaty on December 15.  On 
December 22, Respublika newspaper published an appeal from Rozlana 
Taukina, president (and sole member) of the "Zhurnalisty v Bede" 
(Journalists in Distress) fund, to Minister of Internal Affairs 
Baurzhan Mukhamedzhanov asking the minister to intervene.  Taukina 
claimed that the arrest of Zhetpisbayev, a correspondent of "Radio 
Azzatyk" (the Kyrgyzstan branch of RFE/RL), was politically 
motivated.  She stated that he was arrested only because he is a 
friend and associate of Abzhan. 
 
6. Since his arrest, Zhetpisbayev has been held in the Almaty 
pre-trial detention center; no charges have been filed.  In her 
appeal, Taukina asked for assistance in facilitating his release and 
for permission for a representative of her organization to study the 
documents on the case as a public defender.  In a December 28 
telephone conversation with Pol FSN, Taukina complained that the 
requests to see the journalist in the detention center had been 
denied. 
 
7. On December 26, Astana TV reported that Zhetpisbayev's arrest was 
linked to the trial of Makhambet Abzhan.  According to the report, 
Abzhan testified during his trial that Zhetpisbayev had seized part 
of the election fund (about 900,000 tenge, or $7,000) 
misappropriated during the 2005 maslikhat election campaign. 
 
Conflict between Uighurs and Kazakhs 
------------------------------------ 
 
8. On November 18, 2006, in the village of Shelek in the Almaty 
Oblast, there was a fight between a group of young Kazakhs and a 
group of young Uighurs.  The fight reportedly erupted after a young 
Uighur said: "It is your state, but it is our land."  The following 
day, there was a larger fight involving more than 300 people.  The 
local police broke up the fight with the help of village elders. 
 
9. On December 7, the opposition "Svoboda Slova" newspaper published 
an article titled "Uighurs of Shelek: It is Your State, but it is 
Our Land" by journalist Yerganat Uralbayev.   The article, in which 
Uralbayev referred to inter-ethnic conflict, caused a very heated 
reaction.  Journalist Bakhtiyar Gayanov, writing on the 
www.fergana.ru site on December 20, criticized Uralbayev for blaming 
young Uighurs for the conflict.  Gayanov claimed that the article 
would lead to the emigration of non-Kazakhs, especially ethnic 
Russians. 
 
10. "Svoboda Slova" published three pages of responses to the 
article on the Shelek incident on December 28.  A group of Uighur 
sportsmen published an article calling on the newspaper's editorial 
staff not to incite inter-ethnic discord with biased coverage of a 
 
ASTANA 00000204  002 OF 002 
 
 
small incident.  The newspaper published its interviews on the case 
with the local akim, some residents of the village and even local 
high school students.  Only the school students confirmed that there 
had been numerous scuffles between local young Kazakhs and the young 
Uighurs who emigrated from China.  Mazhilis member Serik 
Abdrakhmanov gave his comments on the incident, warning the pub
lic 
against stirring up discord.  Finally, Uralbayev and "Svoboda Slova" 
editor-in-chief Yergaliyeva published their justification of why the 
article had been written and published. 
 
11. Deputy Procurator General Bakhtybayev stated during a December 
26 press conference in Astana that the incident in Shelek had been 
discussed by the collegium of the Procurator General's office.  It 
found that the incident was exaggerated by biased coverage in the 
mass media.  The Procurator General instructed the oblast procurator 
to give his opinion about the causes and how the incident was 
exaggerated in mass media, stressing that there would be follow-up. 
 
Public Organization in Defense of Opposition Parties 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
12. A group of public organizations (Human Rights Bureau, AdilSoz, 
Union of Journalists, Almaty Helsinki Committee and Charter for 
Human Rights) monitoring the registration of political parties sent 
an inquiry to the Ministry of Justice Registration Committee asking 
why it has not registered the Alga and Social-Democratic parties. 
On December 8, 2006, Alga's application for registration was 
suspended again after it applied for registration for the third time 
on November 10.  On November 22, 2006, the MOJ suspended review of 
the registration application of the Social-Democratic Party.  The 
MOJ referred to legal provisions which allow the ministry to suspend 
a registration application to verify the list of the party members. 
 
 
Afghan Veterans Oppose Sending Forces to Afghanistan 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
13. The Combat Brotherhood Union of Afghan War Veterans objects to 
the idea of sending a Kazakhstani military contingent to 
Afghanistan, the leader of the union, Sergey Pashevich, stated at a 
press conference in Almaty on December 20.  Pashevich cited a visit 
of an officer of the Ministry of Defense to Afghanistan as a sign of 
that the GOK is considering the deployment of Kazakhstani troops. 
The Union sent an open letter to parliament warning deputies against 
sending Kazakhstani military servicemen to Afghanistan. 
 
Bulat Abilov's Trial Continues 
------------------------------ 
 
14. On January 10, the Bostandyk district court in Almaty continued 
hearings in the trial of Bulat Abilov and his business partners 
(reftel).  Pol-Econ Chief and Pol FSN observed the proceedings.  The 
court considered several motions filed by the defense, including a 
request to adjourn the hearing until January 30 to allow the defense 
adequate time to scrutinize the 125 volumes of evidence, a request 
to replace the three Kazakh-Russian interpreters with qualified 
ones, a request to exclude one of the three procurators as he 
allegedly drove a defendant in a previous case to commit suicide, 
and a request to exclude the judge in the case for bias toward the 
prosecution.  All the motions were rejected.  The judge then 
adjourned the hearing until January 29. 
 
Journalist Toguzbayev's Trial 
----------------------------- 
 
15. On January 12, the Bostandyk district court in Almaty held 
another hearing in the trial of journalist Kazis Toguzbayev 
(reftel).  Pol FSN observed the proceedings.  The court heard the 
testimony of three state experts who analyzed the language of the 
articles and concluded that they insulted the president's dignity 
and honor.  It turned out that there were two examinations because 
the first one was poor.  The defense insisted that the Criminal 
Procedure Code had been violated, because Toguzbayev had not been 
notified about the examinations and their findings. 
 
16. Toguzbayev announced that he had sent a letter to President 
Nazarbayev asking whether his articles insulted Nazarbayev's dignity 
and honor.  In this connection, Toguzbayev's lawyer asked the court 
to adjourn the hearing until Nazarbayev responds to Toguzbayev's 
letter.  The judge rejected the request as well as the majority of 
other motions by the defense.  The judge announced the next hearing 
for January 16 and asked the parties to be ready for concluding 
arguments. 
 
MILAS

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