07ASTANA834, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, MARCH 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA834 2007-04-03 02:36 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO2474
RR RUEHAST RUEHDBU
DE RUEHTA #0834/01 0930236
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030236Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8965
INFO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1707
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 7910
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 7846
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7135
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 2062
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1387
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2190

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ASTANA 000834 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, MARCH 2007 
 
REF: Almaty 204 
 
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. 
 
Chechen-Kazakh Conflict in Kazatkom Village 
------------------------------------------- 
 
2.  On the night of March 17 in the settlement of Malovodnoye, just 
outside of Almaty, two young men, a Chechen and a Kazakh, got into a 
quarrel in a billiard hall.  The Chechen's cousin, Takhir 
Makhmakhanov, later arrived to help his relative.  According to an 
Interior Ministry press release, Takhir Makhmakhanov shot and 
wounded B. Salimbayev in the leg and struck Salimbayev with his car. 
 Salimbayev was hospitalized.  Interfax reported that on March 18, 
Salimbayev's relatives and friends came to the village of Kazatkom 
to confront the Makhmakhanovs.  As the group was approaching the 
farmstead, three Makhmakhanov brothers opened a fire.  The mob threw 
stones at them and broke into the yard.  The brothers were captured 
and beaten by unidentified individuals.  A house and a car were 
burned and three cars and a bus were damaged.  The police took away 
the family members and placed them under protection.  As a result of 
the incident two participants were shot dead, three died of bodily 
injuries, and four found were hospitalized.  The investigation 
continues. 
 
3. In a March 26 interview with the Megapolis weekly, two of the 
Makhmakhanov brothers, Sado and Ruslan, maintained that the incident 
at the billiard hall could not have been the cause of the conflict. 
The brothers claimed that someone who knew the whole family could be 
found at the house on Sundays organized a "pogrom" to deal with the 
brothers. 
 
4.  The Makhmakhanovs were a large family of 11 brothers and four 
sisters.  As a result of this conflict three brothers died, 
including Khajimurat Makhmakhanov, Director of the Executive 
Department under the Supreme Court and Deputy to Almaty City Chief 
Bailiff.  (Note:  By virtue of his position he had been a key 
prosecution witness in the Shanyrak trial.)  The Megapolis weekly, 
citing the Russian web site www.sartraccc.sgp.ru, reported on March 
26 that one of the brothers, Shamil Makhmakhanov, was the leader of 
an organized crime ring.  In a conversation with the Megapolis 
correspondent, some of Kazatkom residents complained that 
Makhmakhanovs were thugs and thieves who harassed them by seizing 
their land and cattle. 
 
Trial of Opposition Leader Bulat Abilov Continues 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
5. The Almalinskiy district court in Almaty continues to hear the 
case against True Ak Zhol co-chairman Bulat Abilov.  At a hearing on 
February 26, three of the 18 "victims" withdrew their claims against 
Abilov and his two business partners.  In a press release, Abilov 
noted that a total of 700 individuals had filed complaints against 
him and his partners.  He suggested that the court should call only 
the 200 "victims" from Almaty to testify, in order to speed up the 
trial and alleviate transportation problems.  (True Ak Zhol press 
release, February 26) 
 
New Opposition Biweeklies 
------------------------- 
 
6.  The True Ak Zhol political party has started publishing two new 
newspapers, "Free Kazakhstan" in Russian and "Bostandyk Zharshysy" 
(Freedom Herald) in Kazakh.  Both papers are biweeklies.  (True Ak 
Zhol press release, February 21) 
 
Rakhat Aliyev Sues Wives of Nurbank Managers 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
7.  Presidential son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev filed libel suits against 
Armankul Kapasheva and Nazira Bazarbayeva, wives of the two Nurbank 
managers embroiled in a dispute with Aliyev.  The Medeu district 
court in Almaty held the first hearing on the case against Mrs. 
Kapasheva, wife of Zholdas Timraliyev, former deputy chairman of 
Nurbank, on March 1.  In early February, Kapasheva and Bazarbayeva, 
wife of former chairman of Nurbank, accused Aliyev of "depriving 
their husbands of freedom."  In response, Aliyev filed lawsuits 
against Kapasheva and Bazarbayeva seeking one million tenge (about 
$8,000) in moral damages from each of them.  (Kazakhstan Today news 
agency, March 1, 2007) 
 
8.  At a February 5 press conference, Kapasheva stated that her 
 
ASTANA 00000834  002 OF 004 
 
 
husband Zholdas Timraliyev had been missing since he left his home 
on January 31 for a meeting with Aliyev and the new chairman of 
Nurbank.  According to Kapasheva, two weeks before that Aliyev 
allegedly abducted the former chairman of the bank Abilzhan Gilimov 
and her husband and tortured him in a private sauna. (Svoboda Slova 
and Delovaya Nedelya, March 1) 
 
9.  Timraliyev is still missing.  Gilimov was arrested on February 
14 and sinc
e then has been held in Almaty pre-trial detention house. 
 According to Almaty Financial Police Chief V. Kurbatov, both 
Gilimov and Timraliyev have been accused of illegal 
entrepreneurship, abuse of power and inciting a conflict between 
Almaty police and the bank security. 
 
Journalist Toguzbayev Loses Appeal 
---------------------------------- 
 
10. On March 2, the Almaty City Court examined an appeal filed by 
journalist Kazis Toguzbayev.  Toguzbayev was appealing the January 
22 ruling of the Bostandyk district court in Almaty which found him 
guilty of insulting President Nazarbayev's dignity and honor and 
gave him two years suspended sentence.  The city court rejected the 
appeal as ungrounded and confirmed the district court ruling. 
(www.kub.kz, March 3) 
 
Social-Democrats to Participate in Maslikhat Elections 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
11. In a March 3 interview with TV Channel-31, the leader of 
Social-Democratic Party Zharmakhan Tuyakbay said his party was 
preparing to participate in this fall elections to Maslikhats (local 
representative bodies).  Party leaders promised to return large 
enterprises to the people, and to raise pensions and allowances, if 
elected. 
 
Working Group on Constitutional Laws 
------------------------------------ 
 
12. A conference called Development of Civic Society: 
Constitutional-Legal Support was held in Almaty on March 16. 
According to Professor Victor Malinovskiy, the goal of the 
conference was to include leading law experts in the work of the 
working group on constitutional reforms established by President 
Nazarbayev on February 19.  Nazarbayev will head the working group 
and Constitutional Council Chairman Igor Rogov will be his deputy. 
The working group will work on improving the current legislation 
including the laws on President' and Parliament's authorities, 
election system, on public associations, political parties and mass 
media. (Yuridicheskaya Gazeta, March 19) 
 
13.  In a March 16 conversation with Pol FSN, Mazhilis member 
Mikhail Troshchikhin expressed hope that the presidential working 
group on constitutional amendments would finish its work this 
summer, so that Parliament could pass the amendments before its 
recess.  According to Troshchikhin, it is crucial that the fall 
maslikhat elections be conducted according to new rules. 
 
Prospects for Abolishing Death Penalty 
-------------------------------------- 
 
14.  A round table "On Abolishing the Death Penalty and Joining the 
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court" was held in Almaty 
on March 12.  International participants, including Italian 
Ambassador Bruno Antonio Pascuino, Tanya Bayer of the German 
Embassy, Antonio Stanga and Marco Perduka of Hands Off Cain NGO, and 
Bridget Dufur of the International Helsinki Federation, urged 
Kazakhstan to sign optional protocols to International Covenant on 
Civic and Political Rights and to join the Rome Statute of the 
International Criminal Court.  Kazakhstani officials, including MFA 
Ambassador-at-large Madina Dzharbusynova, Constitutional Council 
member Nikolay Belorukov and Chairman of the Presidential Commission 
on Human Rights Saginbek Tursunov, stressed step-by-step progress 
toward abolishing the death penalty in Kazakhstan.  Belorukov said 
the joining to the Optional Protocol would require bringing 
Kazakhstani legislation in line with international standards. 
Dzharbusynova mentioned that in spite of different opinions in the 
public, the government had set up an interagency commission to 
examine the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant 
on Civic and Political Rights, which provides for abolishing death 
penalty.  Participants from local NGOs also urged Kazakhstani 
officials to join the international covenants. 
 
15.  Zhemis Turmagambetova of the Charter for Human Rights NGO 
raised the issue of Saddam Hussein.  Addressing her question to the 
participants from international organizations, Turmagambetova asked 
 
ASTANA 00000834  003 OF 004 
 
 
why Hussein had not been tried by the court of the Hague or another 
international court, and had had no opportunity to appeal the 
verdict.  According to Turmagambetova, the reaction of Kazakhstanis 
to the execution of Saddam Hussein was very negative.  Perduka 
replied that they had raised the issue with the United States, 
proposing to set up a special court with a mixed panel of judges 
from various countries, similar to the one in Sierra Leone. 
 
School Principal Fired for Teaching Uighur History 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
16.  "If there were a Uighur state today, it would include a 
significant part of the Almaty Oblast," a history teacher was quoted 
as saying in a February 9 interview in "Zhas Qazaq."  The teacher, 
who works in a secondary school in the village of Avat, Uighur Rayon 
of Almaty Oblast, was quoted as saying that the territory of Almaty 
Oblast (then called Zhetysu), along with the Xinjiang province of 
China, was part of the ancient Uighur state.  The correspondent 
speculated that the local schools were the origins of the slogan "It 
is Your State but It is Our Land," which touched off the scuffle 
between young Uighurs and Kazakhs in the village of Shelek last 
November (reftel). 
 
17.  Following this report, Mazhilis member Bekbolat Tleukhan filed 
an inquiry with the Ministry of Education and Science.  Minister of 
Education and Science Zhanseit Tuymebayev responded reporting that 
an examination of the school in Avat village had confirmed some 
violations of the Ministry's regulations.  "The school teacher had 
no right to teach this particular Uighur history citing unverified 
historical information.  The standard curriculum does not provide 
for this history course.  The school administration made a political 
mistake by placing Uighur flag in the Uighur history class room.  As 
a result the school principal A. Darayev was dismissed from his 
position."  (Zhas Qazaq weekly, March 9) 
 
Almaty Housing Scandal 
---------------------- 
 
18.  In the city of Almaty, 161 cheap apartments were sold on 
favorable terms to businessmen, bank office workers and university 
lecturers, instead of to low-income individuals who do not own 
homes. According to the head of the City Housing Department, these 
people submitted forged work references which the city 
administration failed to check.  A probe is currently underway. So 
far, none of the 161 apartments has been returned to state 
ownership, but the City Housing Department assured journalists it 
would be done.  (AC TV channel, March 6) 
 
19.  The Almaty branch of the Nur Otan party convened on March 14 to 
discuss the violations committed during the distribution of cheap 
apartments.  The heads of the city departments on education and 
housing who are
in charge of the housing program and the city 
Maslikhat deputies were invited to the meeting.  The city deputy 
procurator reported that the list of those who illegally received 
cheap apartments had grown to 220 names.  The representative of the 
city education department reported that 15 officials had been 
disciplined for failure to prevent the issuance of illegal 
references by educational institutions.  The housing department 
representatives promised to ensure strict examinations of support 
documents, and to set up another commission for the examination of 
applications.  The Maslikhat deputies promised to support the 
extension of the cheap apartment campaign to three years so that 
every low-paid civil servant would receive an apartment.  (Khabar TV 
channel, March 14) 
 
Shanyrak Legalization Applications Denied 
----------------------------------------- 
 
20.  On March 11, the Bostandyk District Court in Almaty began to 
examine a civil suit filed against the Almaty city administration by 
36 residents of the Shanyrak district.  The residents were 
challenging the refusal of the administration to legalize their 
houses under the Property Legalization Amnesty Campaign.  A lawyer 
from the Charter for Human Rights NGO represented the Shanyrak 
residents.  A lawyer for the city administration claimed the houses 
were located in an area where the ground water was too close to the 
surface.  The lawyer for Shanyrak residents maintained this was not 
a serious argument and the city administration had no legal grounds 
to refuse the legalization.  The court and the city administration 
are deadlocked.  They have no grounds to refuse the legalization, 
but if they satisfy these claims, then other residents from various 
districts of the city may begin filing similar lawsuits. 
(www.kub.kz, March 14) 
 
Hunger Strike against Unfair Compensation 
 
ASTANA 00000834  004 OF 004 
 
 
----------------------------------------- 
 
21.  Eight residents of the Bostandyk district of Almaty, whose 
houses are to be demolished, announced their intention to go on a 
hunger strike.  The residents are protesting what they see as 
unfairly low compensation ($35,000-43,000 per 100 square meters) 
offered by the Mega-Invest-Service construction company.  The 
residents complained they would not be able to buy similar 
apartments in the same district for the compensation they were 
offered.  (Kazakhstan Today news agency, March 14) 
 
Rumors 
------ 
 
22.  Almaty City Mayor Tasmagambetov is rumored to be in trouble 
because of the conflict between his nephew, the former chairman of 
Nurbank, and the President's eldest son-in-law, Respublika weekly 
reported.  According to Respublika, Chairman of the Financial Police 
Sarybay Kalmurzayev may replace Tasmagambetov as Almaty city mayor. 
The Financial Police would be disbanded and its functions 
transferred to the National Security Committee and Interior 
Ministry.  (Respublika weekly, March 16) 
 
Establishing an Institute on Parliamentarianism? 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
23. On March 16, a workshop in Almaty discussed prospects for 
establishing an institute on parliamentarianism.  According to 
Mazhilis deputies and academicians who organized the workshop, such 
an institute should be established in the form of an analytical and 
research center which will analyze draft bills, make prognoses, 
monitor existing legislation, publicize international parliamentary 
experience, and provide MPs with information and assistance.  MP 
Johan Merkel doubted that the government would support the project 
because of the financing it would require. 
 
ORDWAY

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