07ASTANA1033, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, MARCH – APRIL 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA1033 2007-04-20 11:13 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1998
RR RUEHAST RUEHDBU
DE RUEHTA #1033/01 1101113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201113Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9169
INFO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1718
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 7942
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 7876
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7149
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 2090
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1397
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2196

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 001033 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, MARCH - APRIL 2007 
 
REF:  Astana 834 
 
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. 
 
Aftermath of the Conflict in Kazatkom 
------------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) Following the conflict between Kazakhs and Chechens in 
Kazatkom (reftel), some mass media published articles blaming the 
government and Chechens for the conflict.  For example, MP Alikhan 
Baymenov was quoted in the Zhas Qazaq newspaper on March 30 as 
stating that the "Makhmakhanovs had connections among those who 
exploit the country's subsoil resources.  Wealthy people exploit 
organized criminal rings for their purposes.  A member of the 
Makhmakhanov family is reportedly suspected of murder."  In the same 
issue, another MP, Nurtay Sabilyanov, criticized the leader of the 
Chechen community in Kazakhstan, Akhmed Muradov, who allegedly 
placed the blame on Kazakhs.  Sabilyanov said "What future are we 
facing if such individuals sit in the Senate?" referring to 
President Nazarbayev's recent recommendation to reserve some seats 
in the Senate for representatives of ethnic minorities. 
 
3. (U) On April 5, members of the "Bolashak" (Future) national youth 
movement attempted to organize a mass action by placing a wreath to 
the tomb of Bakytzhan Bugutov, who died in the Kazatkom conflict. 
The Almaty police prevented the action. 
 
4. (U) The government has taken some measures to put an end to 
heated discussions of the Kazatkom conflict and to prevent any 
negative consequences.  On April 4, Vice Minister of Interior Alik 
Shpekbayev said in an interview with the Liter daily that "the 
conflict was of regular and criminal nature, without underlying 
inter-ethnic causes.  Some destructive forces elevate regular 
quarrels and scuffles between representatives of various ethnic 
groups to the level of deteriorating interethnic relations.  It is 
all common jealousy of the Makhmakhanovs' wealth."  On April 5, the 
Procurator General made a statement warning owners and 
editor-in-chiefs of mass media outlets against publishing, 
broadcasting and placing materials aimed at inciting social and 
ethnic hatred and insulting other citizens' dignity and honor. 
 
Reporter who Covered Kazatkom Missing 
------------------------------------- 
 
5. (U) On April 18, media freedom advocates held a press conference 
in Almaty to announce that newspaper reporter Oralgaisha 
Zhabagtai-kyzy had been missing since March 30.  Zhabagtai-kyzy, who 
worked for the "Zakon i Pravosudiye" weekly newspaper based in 
Astana, had written an article on the conflict between Kazakhs and 
Chechens in Malovodnoye village (reftel).  The article was entitled 
"Bloody Lawless Action, or Who is Behind the Makhmakhalovs?"  In it, 
she reported that Vita Makhmakhalov was a suspect in the murder of a 
criminal leader who had allegedly blackmailed the heads of the 
Kazakhmys firm in Zhezkazhgan.  Her brother and a colleague stated 
during the press conference that Zhabagtai-kyzy had received 
threatening phone calls from people with Caucasian accents after the 
article was published. 
 
6. (SBU) On the margins of the press conference, a local reporter 
speculated to PA FSN that the leadership of Kazakhmys (ethnic 
Koreans said to be close to President Nazarbayev) ordered Vita 
Makhmakhalov to kill Sagit Shakputov,   the alleged blackmailer in 
Zhezkazhgan,   and were protecting him from prosecution.  The 
reporter concluded that the conflict in Kazatkom was revenge by 
Shakputov's criminal associates rather than an interethnic dispute. 
He also said that Zhabagtai-kyzy had likely been killed. 
 
 
Survey on Inter-Ethnic Relations 
-------------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) In November 2006, the Association of Sociologists and 
Political Scientists conducted a survey of public opinion on 
inter-ethnic relations in Kazakhstan.  According to the survey, the 
number of people who expressed concerns about inter-ethnic relations 
has increased by 1.6 times: 39.5% compared to 25.3% in 2005. 
Non-Kazakhs most often expressed these concerns.  Answers to other 
questions also pointed toward deteriorating inter-ethnic relations. 
The number of people who are ready to fight to defend the interests 
of their ethnic group has doubled in comparison with 2003.  Every 
fifth Kazakhs polled shared this attitude.  The perception of the 
risk of civil war on ethnic grounds has increased by 1.8 times: from 
 
ASTANA 00001033  002 OF 003 
 
 
17.7% in 2003 to 32.6% in 2006.  The pollsters concluded that the 
data means that "Kazakhstan is, if not on the verge of inter-ethnic 
politic conflict, dangerously close to it."  (Comment:  Post 
considers the conclusion to be highly exaggerated.)  (Survey of 
Association of Sociologists and Political Scientists, March 28) &
#x000A; 
Trial of "Shanyrak Defenders" Continues 
--------------------------------------- 
 
8. (U) The trial of 25 "Shanyrak Defenders" is continuing in the 
Almaty City court.  At the hearing on March 27, attended by Pol FSN, 
the court interrogated two witnesses, Auezov district court bailiffs 
Gulshat Zhansarova and Talgat Tolebayev.  Both testified that they 
had been eyewitnesses of the clashes between the local residents and 
the police on July 14, 2006, in the village of Shanyrak, but had 
seen none of the defenders standing trial.  Neither of the bailiffs 
saw the hostage taking because they stayed away from the area of 
conflict.  The lawyers tried to prove that the event on July 14, 
2006 was not a demolition campaign, but a police punitive action 
against the residents and that the bailiffs were invited to portray 
it to the public as demolition. 
 
9. (SBU) Several political activists, including Dos Koshim of the 
"Ult Tagdyry" (Nation's Future) nationalist movement, Asylbek 
Kozhakhmetov of the Alga party, and Burikhan Nurmukhamedov of the Ak 
Zhol party, participated in the proceedings as public defenders. 
According to Koshim, the prosecution has no strong evidence against 
the defenders.  A police cameraman videotaped the clashes.  However, 
because the cameraman was allegedly frightened the tape came out of 
poor quality and it does not show the hostage taking.  In a private 
conversation with Pol FSN, Koshim reported that one the principal 
witnesses in this case, Almaty City deputy chief bailiff Khajimurat 
Makhmakhanov was dead.  Makhmakhanov was the official who organized 
the demolition campaign in Shanyrak.  He was reportedly killed 
during a violent interethnic incident in the village of Kazatkom, 
Almaty Oblast, between Kazakhs and Chechens on March 18. 
 
10. (U) At the March 29 hearing, the five Shanyrak defenders accused 
of burning the policeman denied their guilt.  According to the 
accused, they intended to burn not the policeman, but themselves in 
a protest against the demolition.  The defenders allegedly do not 
know how it happened.  The defense is trying to drag out the trial. 
(Caravan weekly, March 30) 
 
Campaign Against Almatyzher 
--------------------------- 
 
11. (U) "The arbitrariness and impunity of the officials involved in 
the Bakay and Shanyrak demolition campaigns created a negative 
trend, which was extended throughout the country," Dos Koshim stated 
at a press conference in Almaty on March 28.  "As a result, in every 
region of Kazakhstan local authorities along with organizations like 
'Almatyzher' and private construction companies use their own 
discretion toward ordinary people seizing their lands and houses for 
alleged 'state purposes.'  By these actions, local authorities and 
the construction companies the authorities back contribute to 
destabilization of political situation through the country," Koshim 
said in his statement.  (Kazakhstan Today news agency, March 28) 
 
12. (U) On March 30, about 30 people -- including Socialist 
Resistance activists -- picketed the office of Almatyzher in Almaty. 
 Pol FSN observed the rally.  Two young people were holding a banner 
reading "Almatyzher is the Enemy of the People."  The leader of 
Socialist Resistance Aynur Kurmanov and Sakhib Zhanabayeva of the 
Workers' Movement entered the office to hand over their petition. 
After a short time the acting head of Almatyzher came out of the 
office and talked to the protesters for half an hour.  About two 
dozen policemen watched the rally.  As participants dispersed, the 
police followed Aynur Kurmanov and his friends.  A block from 
Almatyzher's office the police detained Kurmanov and took him away. 
 
 
13. (U) According to a participant of the rally, Alikhan Ramazanov, 
Kurmanov spent a night in the police station.  The next day the 
Inter-district Administrative Court of Almaty tried Kurmanov and 
fined him 11,000 tenge ($90) for organizing an unsanctioned rally. 
 
 
By-Elections to Almaty Precinct Election Commissions 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
14. (U) On April 4 two opposition parties, True Ak Zhol and National 
Social Democratic Party, held a press conference in Almaty to 
express their outrage by the results of the recent by-elections to 
Almaty precinct election commissions.  Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, Bulat 
 
ASTANA 00001033  003 OF 003 
 
 
Abilov and Oraz Zhandosov maintained that the elections were a 
farce.  Out of 821 vacant seats, 197 were won by Adilet, 81 by Nur 
Otan, 151 by Patriots Party, 96 by Rukhaniyat, 126 by Auyl, 145 by 
the People's Communists, 4 by Ak Zhol, 4 by the Communists, 14 by 
the Social Democrats, and 3 by True Ak Zhol.   The opposition 
alleged that the members of the Almaty City Maslikhat, the majority 
of whom are Nur Otan members, were tasked with preventing the 
opposition party representatives from getting control over the 
electoral process. 
 
15.  (U) As illustration of the improbability of the election 
results, Abilov noted that the Rukhaniyat party received only 752 
votes in Almaty city in the 2004 parliamentary elections but now 
holds 335 seats on city election commissions.  Abilov claimed that 
"we have looked for Rukhaniyat's office in Almaty for two days and 
failed to find it.  The same is true with other political parties. 
And all these 'ghost-parties' exist to fill election commission 
seats and then to falsify election results," Abilov said.  Zhandosov 
mentioned that the authorities had so far failed to remove members 
of the former Asar, Agrarian and Civic parties, which had merged 
with Otan, from election commissions as was required by the law. 
 
Police Harassing Krishna Community 
---------------------------------- 
 
16. (U) The police of Tekeli City in Almaty Oblast on March 27 
disrupted a religious meeting of the local Krishna community in a 
private apartment.  A representative of the local administration 
announced the meeting illegal as the community had no registration 
at the city level.  All fourteen participants of the meeting were 
taken to the local police office and kept there for two hours.  The 
community members were reportedly threatened with reprisals, their 
passport data was recorded and then they were set free. 
(www.kazakhkrishna.com, March 29) 
 
The Village Invites Young People 
-------------------------------- 
 
17. (U) On March 28 in the Republican Palace of Almaty, the oblast 
administration organized a propaganda campaign "The Village Invites 
Young People" to persuade young people to move to villages. 
Nowadays the villages lack both financing and ambitious young 
people.  In recent years young people have been moving from rural 
areas to big cities seeking jobs and better opportunities. 
 
18. (U) In her comments on the campaign, Irina Mednikova of Youth 
Informati
on Service NGO cited some young people saying that the 
campaign was an attempt of authorities to herd them into villages to 
prevent their involvement in politics.  (Liter daily, March 28) 
 
ORDWAY

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