07ASTANA309, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, FEBRUARY 2, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA309 2007-02-05 09:40 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO7712
RR RUEHAST RUEHDBU
DE RUEHTA #0309/01 0360940
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050940Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8367
INFO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1682
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 7850
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 7798
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7103
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 1998
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1374
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2178

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000309 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, FEBRUARY 2, 2007 
 
REF: A. 06 ALMATY 2564, B. 06 ALMATY 2302 
 
1. (U) 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. 
 
"Shanyrak District Defenders" Stand Trial 
----------------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) On January 12, the city court in Almaty began hearing the 
case of the 25 people accused of participating in the July 14, 2006, 
riots in the Shanyrak district of Almaty, popularly referred to as 
the "Shanyrak district defenders."  (See Ref A for details. 
Residents clashed with police when local authorities attempted to 
demolish illegal residences; a policeman who was taken hostage and 
set on fire later died.)  Seventeen of the accused have been in 
custody since July.  Another eight were free on bail.  The trial is 
expected to be lengthy, with the participation of 25 defendants and 
175 victims.  Four of the defendants, including the primary 
defendant Aron Yedigeyev (aka Atabek), have been charged with 
hostage-taking, murder, and organizing a riot. 
 
3. (U) The January 12 hearing was held in the largest city 
courtroom.  Many observers, including relatives and activists from 
opposition parties, were present.  The court rejected motions 
requesting a jury trial and challenging the membership of the 
three-judge panel hearing the case.  The chief judge questioned the 
accused about their party affiliation.  Some observers alleged that 
this was done in an attempt to prevent the participation of public 
defenders in the proceedings. 
 
4. (SBU) Alga party activist Alikhan Ramazanov told Pol FSN that, 
although they had denied it when questioned by the judge, some of 
the defendants were members of Alga.  Alga hired seven lawyers to 
defend them and was trying to get permission for other 
representatives to participate in the case as public defenders.  It 
also appears that some of the defendants are affiliated with 
national-patriotic movements, as well-known national activist Dos 
Koshim is also seeking  permission to participate in the trial as a 
public defender. 
 
5. (SBU) The second hearing was held on January 23.  After their 
motion for a jury trial was denied for the second time, two of the 
accused -- Aron Atabek and Ayat Temirbay - cut their own abdomens 
with knives in protest. (According to Alikhan Ramazanov, the two 
suspects suffered only minor injuries.)  The hearing ended when 
bailiffs were unable to restore order in the courtroom.  Proceedings 
resumed on January 25, amid increased security.  Only journalists 
were allowed in the courtroom, but taking pictures and videotaping 
was prohibited. 
 
Hizb ut Tahrir Members in Almaty Detention Center 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
6. (U) On January 23, a group of women picketed the Almaty pre-trial 
detention center demanding permission to see their husbands and 
brothers.  The protesters, who said that they were members of Hizb 
ut Tahrir, said their relatives were among 70 members of the 
organization who had been detained six weeks earlier.  The facility 
administration denied the request, and the local department of the 
National Security Committee declined to comment publicly on the 
case. 
 
Opposition Presents Awards to Active Members 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
7. (U) On January 19, opposition activists, mostly from the Alga 
Party, held a celebration in Almaty to announce the 2006 winners of 
the Freedom Prize established by the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan 
movement in 2002.  2006 winners included Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly 
(murdered February 2006), Nurbulat Masanov (died October 2006), 
Kazis Toguzbayev (see para. 10), Yevgeniy Zhovtis (KIBHR chairman), 
Irina Savostina ("Pokoleniye" leader), and Alibek Zhumabayev (jailed 
FJK activist, Ref B).  Independent journalist Yermurat Bapi, himself 
a winner of the prize in 2003, expressed regret that noone came to 
receive the prize on behalf of Sarsenbaiuly.  Bapi stressed that, 
while the ceremony was organized by the Alga Party, former laureates 
had selected the 2006 winners. 
 
8. (SBU) In conversation with Pol FSN, who attended the event, Bapi 
expressed his indignation over the failure of True Ak Zhol leaders 
to attend the ceremony.  Bapi said they failed to show up because of 
 
ASTANA 00000309  002 OF 002 
 
 
the split in the opposition camp and differences between the True Ak 
Zhol leaders and Mukhtar Ablyazov, who is behind the Alga leader 
Asylbek Kozhakhmetov.  Bapi also complained that other opposition 
leaders such as Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, Galymzhan Zhakiyanov (a 
co-founder of the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan movement), and 
communist leader Serikbolsyn Abdildin also failed to show up.  Only 
Ak Zhol Deputy
 Chairman Burikhan Nurmukhamedov attended the 
ceremony, which Bapi saw as an indicator of good relations between 
Mukhtar Ablyazov and Alikhan Baymenov. 
 
True Ak Zhol Wants to Name Almaty Street after Sarsenbaiuly 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
9. (U) According to a True Ak Zhol party press release, on January 
18 the party's co-chairmen Bulat Abilov, Oraz Zhandosov, and Tulegen 
Zhukeyev met with the head of the Presidential Administration, 
Adilbek Dzhaksybekov.  In his comments on the meeting, Tulegen 
Zhukeyev stressed that the only question raised in Astana was their 
request to rename a street in Almaty after the murdered opposition 
leader Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly.  Zhukeyev added that because a year 
had passed since his death, the party activists had asked for a 
permission to hold a meeting in memory of Sarsenbaiuly in front of 
the Academy of Sciences in Almaty.  "However, Dzhaksybekov expressed 
his doubts about the requests," Zhukeyev said. 
 
Journalist Toguzbayev Receives Suspended Sentence 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
10. (U) On January 22, the Bostandyk district court in Almaty found 
opposition journalist Kazis Toguzbayev guilty of insulting President 
Nursultan Nazarbayev's dignity and honor and gave him a two-year 
suspended sentence with two-year probation period.  The court also 
found that in his articles, Toguzbayev gave a negative estimate of 
the political situation in the country and the actions of the 
president, and defamed the president by publishing false 
information.  The false information included the following 
statement: "The President wants to suppress the case of Altynbek 
Sarsenbayev and he did it before this time.  In a way, he is the 
killer." 
 
11. (SBU) Opposition activists who came to the court to support 
Toguzbayev were quite happy with the ruling.  Some of them 
characterized the decision as a victory, because in issuing its 
ruling the court criticized the textual analysis performed by the 
National Security Committee.  Tulegen Zhukeyev of True Ak Zhol told 
Pol FSN, who observed the trial, that they had expected a mild 
sentence due to the upcoming political reforms.  He also added that 
they hoped for good results in the case with Bulat Abilov. 
 
12. (U) In her comments to the press on the ruling, Tamara Kaleyeva 
of the AdilSoz media freedom NGO said "It is good that he will 
remain free, but it is not a victory.  It is bad that the court 
decided to convict.  In this way not only Toguzbayev, but also many 
other journalists will be muzzled.  Through this ruling we have been 
told that there are some taboos, and the taboo number one is the 
president's activities." 
 
Social Democratic Party Registered 
---------------------------------- 
 
13. (U) On January 25, the Ministry of Justice registered the 
Social-Democratic Party founded by a former speaker of Parliament 
and opposition presidential candidate Zharmakhan Tuyakbay.  On 
January 29, Tuyakbay held a press conference in Almaty to brief 
journalists on the registration.  Tuyakbay stressed that the Social 
Democratic Party would continue to position itself as an opposition 
party.  In his answer to a question about the Democratization 
Commission, Tuyakbay said the party could theoretically participate 
as an observer; he thought that the Commission had  completed its 
work once  it passed its recommendations to President Nazarbayev, 
however. 
 
14. (SBU) After the press conference, Pol FSN talked to political 
scientist Andrey Chebotaryev about the registration decision. 
Chebotaryev said Kazakhstan was still seeking the OSCE chairmanship, 
and this was the main reason why the Social-Democrats were 
registered. 
 
MILAS

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