07ASTANA1528, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, MAY 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA1528 2007-06-05 06:02 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO5323
RR RUEHAST RUEHDBU
DE RUEHTA #1528/01 1560602
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050602Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9670
INFO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1754
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 8015
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 7924
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7169
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 2146
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1412
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2216

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 001528 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, MAY 2007 
 
REF: A. Astana 1033, B. Astana 1415, C. Astana 1129 
 
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. 
 
Opposition Challenges Formation of Election Commissions 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
2. Three opposition parties, True Ak Zhol, the Social Democratic 
Party, and the Communists, filed a lawsuit against the Almaty City 
Maslikhat challenging the way the city precinct election commissions 
were formed.  In early April during by-elections for Almaty City 
precinct election commissions, the three opposition parties won only 
20 of the 821 vacant seats (Ref A).  The opposition leaders stated 
that the selection process was a farce designed to make the election 
process non-transparent.  The hearing began on May 8 in the 
Bostandyk district court but was quickly adjourned.  When it resumed 
on May 11, more than a dozen policemen were present; some of them 
urged the elderly opposition activists there to observe the trial to 
disperse.  True Ak Zhol activist Marzhan Aspandiyarova nevertheless 
gave interviews to journalists standing at the entrance of the court 
building.  The event ended peacefully. 
 
3. On May 10, the Almaty City Maslikhat invited representatives of 
various political parties, including the opposition, to a round 
table meeting to discuss the formation of election commissions. 
The round table was organized to discuss controversial aspects of 
the formation, because the current legislation does not provide a 
detailed procedure.  Following the discussion, the participants 
signed a memorandum on cooperation.  The participants from the 
opposition True Ak Zhol and Social Democratic parties insisted that 
their opinions, which differed from the opinions of others, be 
included in the memorandum.  The opposition representatives insisted 
on transparency of lists of nominees for election commission seats 
and spoke against "file" voting, meaning voting for the list of 
candidates rather than individuals.  (Panorama weekly, May 11) 
 
Conference on Local Election Observation 
---------------------------------------- 
 
4. An international conference on the Further Development of Local 
Election Observation in Kazakhstan, was held in Almaty on May 14. 
The participants stressed that the monitoring of election procedures 
should be conducted long before the day when an election is held. 
The secretary of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Bakhyt 
Maldeshev, spoke in favor of close cooperation of the CEC with local 
observers. The conference was organized by OSCE Almaty and the 
Republican Network of Independent Observers.  (AC TV, May 14) 
 
True Ak Zhol and Social Democrats Form Electoral Bloc 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
5. On May 23 two opposition parties, True Ak Zhol and the Social 
Democrats, announced their intention to set up an electoral bloc. 
They stated that they assume that following the recent 
constitutional amendments, the authorities will dissolve parliament 
and conduct early elections this fall. 
 
Protests against Constitutional Amendments 
------------------------------------------ 
 
6. On May 24, a group of 30 people, including opposition journalist 
Sergey Duvanov, went to the central square of Almaty to protest the 
recent constitutional amendments.  Duvanov alone was detained and 
spent several hours in a police station.  The next day the City 
Special Inter-District Administrative Court tried Duvanov for 
organizing an unsanctioned rally.  He admitted the violation but 
stated that the law restricting freedom of speech was not in line 
with the International Convention on Civic and Political Rights 
signed by Kazakhstan.  Duvanov was fined 18,564 tenge ($152).  About 
a dozen of opposition activists and journalists attended the trial 
to support Duvanov. 
 
7. In a June 1 article in the Respublika weekly, Duvanov expressed 
his disappointment with the opposition parties that had failed to 
support his protest action.  Duvanov wrote: "There could be a good 
reason.  The constitution was re-written and the president has been 
made president for life.  It does not happen every year.  However, 
the opposition parties limited themselves to making traditional 
statements.  Lately, the opposition has preferred to just do 
paperwork against the regime." 
 
8. On May 29, journalist Yekaterina Belyayeva of the "Vzglyad" 
 
ASTANA 00001528  002 OF 003 
 
 
weekly went to the Monument of Independence on the Almaty central 
square with a poster reading "Constitutional Amendments - the Road 
to Totalitarianism."  After thirty minutes the police arrested her 
and took her to a district police station, where she was detained 
for three hours. 
 
9. On May 30, poli
tical scientist Galym Agileuov went to the same 
central square to protest the amendments.  He was wearing a 
cardboard crown on his head.  After fifteen minutes, the police 
arrested Agileuov and two of his colleagues.  (Vremya daily, June 
2) 
 
Follow-up to Nurbank Incident 
----------------------------- 
 
10. On May 10 the police in Almaty detained two employees of KTK TV 
channel, Ivan Likhouzov and Vitaliy Piskunov, an officer of the 
Presidential Guard, major Nurlan Sarypbekov, and the Nurbank's 
security chief, Yerlan Sarsenbekov, as witnesses in connection with 
a case of the Nurbank former deputy chairman, Zholdas Timraliyev 
(Ref B).  Timraliyev disappeared on January 31.  According to 
Interior Ministry press secretary Bagdat Kozhakhmetov, the Almaty 
police have launched a criminal investigation into the case.  Major 
Nurlan Sarypbekov was arrested as a suspect involved in the 
abducting of Timraliyev.  Piskunov was placed under arrest as a 
suspect involved in a fraud.  Other witnesses were questioned and 
set free.  (Vremya daily, May 16) 
 
 
11. On May 15, the Medeu district court in Almaty continued the 
hearing of the criminal case against Abilmazhin Gilimov and six 
officers of Almaty police special squad who were charged with 
organizing and participating in the January 31 attack on the Nurbank 
office in Almaty.  The officers filed a motion asking the court to 
transfer Gilimov from the Almaty City detention center to the 
detention center of the National Security Committee because his life 
was allegedly in danger.  The judge approved the motion.  Then the 
court continued questioning witnesses.  (Vremya daily, May 16) 
 
Businessmen Lambast Aliyev 
-------------------------- 
 
12. A group of well-known businessmen, including leading bankers 
Mukhtar Ablyazov and Nurzhan Subkhanberdin, made a statement on May 
30 lambasting Rakhat Aliyev.  In their statement the businessmen 
reported that they themselves had experienced Rakhat Aliyev's way of 
doing business and the political pressure that he exerted for 
personal purposes with the help of law enforcement bodies.  "Today 
any of us might find himself in the place of the kidnapped bank 
managers.  We are concerned that Aliyev and his accomplices can 
resort to any provocations against people and stability in the 
society.  We are calling on progressive forces to support the 
president's efforts and to preserve the stability" the statement 
read.  (Vremya daily, May 30) 
 
13. A group of associations representing medium-size businesses made 
a separate statement blaming Rakhat Aliyev for seizing their 
businesses in the past.   According to the statement, "many have 
fallen victims to Rakhat Aliyev and his henchmen including the ones 
from law enforcement.  He is to blame for ruined lives and projects 
that have not been realized."  The businessmen have called on 
everyone to support the president's efforts to root out corruption 
and "raids" on other people's property.  (Vremya daily, May 31) 
 
Calls to Reinvestigate Nurkadilov, Sarsenbayev Murders 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
14. In a May 29 statement on Rakhat Aliyev, the True Ak Zhol party 
demanded that the tragic deaths of politicians Zamanbek Nurkadilov 
and Altynbek Sarsenbayev and his driver and bodyguard  be 
re-investigated in light of press reports about Aliyev's involvement 
in these cases.  (Vremya daily, May 30) 
 
 
Police Continue to Search for Missing Journalist 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
15. The police continue to search for missing journalist, Oralgaysha 
Zhabagtaykyzy (Ref C), the Interior Ministry press secretary told a 
press briefing in Almaty on May 14.  "The investigation does not 
exclude any of the versions, including the one, which assumed that 
her disappearance was linked to her professional activities," the 
press secretary said.  (Interfax, May 14) 
 
Almaty Crisis Center Left without Shelter 
 
ASTANA 00001528  003 OF 003 
 
 
----------------------------------------- 
 
16. The "Podrugi" (Girlfriends) crisis center in Almaty is looking 
for new premises, because their old shelter, which could hold 16 
women, had been demolished.  According to the executive director of 
the center, Yelena Karsten, the amount they were paid for the old 
facility is sufficient to buy only a four-room apartment, which can 
hold a maximum of eight women.  (Vremya daily, May 16) 
 
MILAS

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