07ASTANA2239, KAZAKHSTAN: MAZHILIS ELECTION ROUNDUP, AUGUST 17

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA2239 2007-08-17 08:32 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO2965
RR RUEHAST RUEHDBU
DE RUEHTA #2239/01 2290832
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170832Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0405
INFO RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1810
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 8098
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 8010
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7227
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 2216
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1470

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 002239 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV OSCE KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: MAZHILIS ELECTION ROUNDUP, AUGUST 17 
 
1. (U) This is the seventh and final cable in a series of weekly 
election roundups in advance of Kazakhstan's August 18 Mazhilis and 
Maslikhat elections.  Items were drawn primarily from the local 
press and media. The official campaign season closed at midnight on 
August 16. 
 
--------------------------------- 
PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV ON ELECTIONS 
--------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) On August 15 President Nazarbayev urged his fellow citizens 
to take part in the August 18 elections. He underscored the 
importance of these elections as a test of the country's democratic 
maturity. "The election on August 18 will become the final stage of 
the constitutional reform and a starting point for a new political 
history of Kazakhstan." Nazarbayev also warned against any attempts 
to use the elections for destabilization of the situation in 
Kazakhstan. (www.akorda.kz. 08-15-07) 
 
3. (U) On August 16 President Nazarbayev gave an interview to the 
Russian television station Vesti in which he urged Russian President 
Vladimir Putin to ignore foreign criticism, change Russia's 
constitution, and stay on as leader. In the interview, he said "I 
don't understand why the Russian president has to finish his 
presidency and leave.  You know, you can look and listen to what 
they say abroad and in Europe, and I have been listening for 15 
years.  They can say anything, but a president should do what his 
people and his state need.  When your people assess your work, the 
results are all, the rest is rubbish." 
 
----------------------------------------- 
NATIONAL SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAMPAIGN 
----------------------------------------- 
 
4. (U) On August 7 leaders of the National Social Democratic Party 
(NSDP) Bulat Abilov and Amirzhan Kosanov held a press conference in 
Almaty to brief journalists about their election campaign, alleging 
that state television and state newspapers have become the Nur Otan 
mass media, considering their disproportionate positive coverage of 
Nur Otan.   Moreover, according to Abilov, the NSDP has not been 
offered appropriate places for their party billboards: several 
places offered were well outside the city.   Abilov also announced 
the party's plan to file a lawsuit against the Prosecutor General's 
office, which found that the party television commercial called "One 
Country - Two Fortunes" and cited social discord.  "We are not 
inciting any discord.  We showed poverty in our rich country.   It 
really exists in the country," Abilov said.  (Interfax, August 7) 
 
5. (U) Having examined a complaint by the NSDP, the Prosecutor 
General's office recommended that the editorial board of the 
Kazakhstanskaya Pravda daily follow the requirements of the 
Constitution and the law.  The Prosecutor General's letter to the 
editor-in-chief of the newspaper stated that "the editorial staff 
has edited an interview with Zharmakhan Tuyakbay by deleting some 
sentences from the original text having no legal grounds or permits 
from the candidate." The NSDP is satisfied by the Prosecutor 
General's response to their complaint. On August 6 the chief of the 
NSDP headquarters, Oraz Zhandosov, addressed a letter to 
Kazakhstanskaya Pravda asking the newspaper to publish the initial 
version of the interview.  (Interfax, August 6) 
 
------------------ 
TELEVISION DEBATES 
------------------ 
 
6. (U) On August 9, Channel 31 recorded and broadcast a debate 
between representatives of Nur Otan and the NSDP.  Bulat Abilov and 
Oraz Zhandosov represented NSDP and Chairman of Kazyna Fund Kayrat 
Kelimbetov and Minister of Culture and Information Yermukhamet 
Yertysbayev represented Nur Otan.  The party representatives 
discussed political reforms, diversification of the economy, freedom 
of speech, the natural resources extraction industry, the National 
Fund revenues, the fight against corruption and the legalization of 
property. 
 
7. (U) Though the debate was organized and moderated by Channel 31, 
the event took place in the studios of the government owned 
Kazakhstan TV company, because Channel 31 does not have such 
facilities in Astana. After the debate was recorded, Yertysbayev and 
his staff took control of the videotape, and did not return it to 
Channel 31 officials until shortly before the scheduled broadcast 
time. (Interfax Kazakhstan; NSDP press release, August 9) 
 
8. (U) Channel 31 broadcast the debate nationwide on August 9 during 
prime time. Among other things, Yertysbayev and Kelimbetov accused 
the NSDP of being populist and promising unreasonable social 
 
ASTANA 00002239  002 OF 003 
 
 
benefits, while Abilov and Zhandosov pointed to Kazakhstan's poor 
record of advancing political reform, protecting free speech, and 
fighting "systematic corruption." (Comment: The debate was a heated 
and open discussion between the party in power and the opposition, 
and was perhaps the first full-scale television debate in the 
history
of Kazakhstani politics.  End comment.)  The recording of 
the debate was edited before broadcast to remove some of NSDP's 
criticisms of the government's tender of broadcasting licenses, and 
to insert remarks from commentators into the middle of the debate. 
The NSDP also accused Yertysbayev of using editing techniques to 
reduce the sound quality of the tape when the NSDP representatives 
were speaking. Yertysbayev denied that he did anything improper, and 
said that television companies are entitled to exercise their 
freedom of creative production. 
 
------------------------------ 
ELECTION COVERAGE ON THE RADIO 
------------------------------ 
 
9. (U) Kazakh Radio completed its election campaign program, which 
was launched on July 31.    Leaders of each party contesting the 
Mazhilis elections went on the air to discuss the political platform 
of their parties.  During a 60-minute live broadcast, each leader 
answered questions received through the government web site.  NSDP 
leader Zharmakhan Tuyakbay was the last to appear on the radio 
program.  He discussed salary increase for physicians, teachers and 
scientists, and the education and healthcare aspect of his party's 
platform.  (Kazakhstan TV, August 8) 
 
-------- 
SURVEYS 
-------- 
 
10. (U) Nur Otan, the NSDP and Ak Zhol lead the election campaigning 
in terms of media coverage, Congress of Journalists representative 
Seytkazy Matayev announced at a press conference in Almaty on August 
6.   According to a survey conducted by the Congress, the three 
parties were more often cited in mass media than other parties.  The 
survey was conducted from July 18 though August 4 and analyzed 
coverage in 26 newspapers, 8 TV channels and 17 Internet sites. 
During this period Nur Otan was cited in mass media 1345 times (30.8 
per cent), the NSDP - 922 times (21 per cent) and Ak Zhol - 780 
times (17.8 per cent).  (Khabar and Interfax, August 6) 
 
11. (U) On August 18, 75.1% of the electorate will vote for Nur 
Otan, the official Kazakhstanskaya Pravda daily reported on August 
7, citing the results of a survey conducted by the Ksilon Astana CG 
company.  The survey predicted that Ak Zhol will win 6.9%, the NSDP 
3.4%, the People's Communist Party 3.1%, and the others less than 
3%.   According to the survey, 60 to 70% of the electorate will 
participate in the elections.  Ksilon surveyed 1220 people from July 
22 through July 30, but did not specify in which regions it 
conducted the poll. 
 
------------------------------------- 
ODIHR INTERIM REPORT AND CEC RESPONSE 
------------------------------------- 
 
13. (U) On Thursday, August 9, ODIHR published its interim election 
monitoring report describing the election campaign as generally calm 
and low key. The report raised a number of concerns about 
Kazakhstan's election law, including the election of 9 deputies by 
the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan, which in ODIHR's view violates 
the OSCE standard requiring that at least one legislative body be 
chosen entirely through direct election by voters.  As far as the 
conduct of the election campaign, the ODIHR observers reported no 
major violations of the law, though it reported a number of 
complaints by parties, including interference by local officials in 
campaign events and difficulty accessing advertising venues.  The 
report stated that the media has generally presented the views of 
all political parties, though most news broadcasts are dominated by 
positive coverage of Nur Otan. The report also noted that the 
president called on citizens to vote for Nur Otan during his 
official visits to a number of cities, which is contrary to the law 
banning active campaigning by government officials during 
performance of their official duties. Finally, the report described 
the concerns of some political parties about possible fraud during 
the vote counting process. 
 
14. (U) Though the ODIHR interim report was not conclusive and not 
overwhelmingly negative, the CEC on August 12 published a lengthy 
and forceful rebuttal of all points raised in the report. The CEC 
emphasized that President Nazarbayev did not violate the law by 
campaigning while performing official duties, because he has the 
right to act as Nur Otan's leader and he did not technically call 
for people to vote for a specific party.  In addition, the CEC 
 
ASTANA 00002239  003 OF 003 
 
 
denied that the election of nine deputies by the Assembly does not 
comply with international standards, referring to a number of 
international documents that allow countries to make special 
provisions for including ethnic minorities in legislative bodies. 
 
15. (U) The CEC also rejected accusations that the NSDP campaign was 
hindered in the regions, stating that no government agencies have 
hindered any of the political parties.  The CEC acknowledged that it 
received a number of complaints from the NSDP, but the majority of 
those were investigated and rejected as false. 
 
16. (U) In addition, the CEC insisted that all political parties' 
campaigns were covered fairly and equally by the media, noting that 
frequency of media coverage depended on how active the parties were. 
The CEC supported the national television stations that refused to 
air certain NSDP TV ads, citing the Prosecutor General finding that 
the ads in question incited social discord. 
 
-------------------------- 
REPORTS OF OTHER OBSERVERS 
-------------------------- 
 
17. (U) On August 14, the Republican Network of Independent Monitors 
(RNIM) publish the results of its long-term observations. The RNIM 
report echoed the main criticisms found in the ODIHR report, 
focusing on the illegitimacy of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan 
election process in the participation of government officials, 
including high-level officials and the president, and the election 
campaign while performing their official duties. The RNIM also 
disagreed with the Prosecutor General on its assessment of the NSDP 
TV ads that were not aired by television stations, stating that they 
were not a call for action and thus cannot incite social discord. 
The RNIM noted several positive changes in this year's election 
campaign: good organization by the CEC, a very useful CEC website, 
greater voter awareness of elections, and the provision of 
additional TV and radio air time for parties. 
 
18. (U) On August 15, the CIS election observation mission published 
its interim report, which assessed the election campaign as 
compliant with the law.  The CIS report said that the process of 
electing deputies through the Assembly Of People of Kazakhstan 
complies with international standards, though the mechanism of such 
election requires further improvement (Interfax Kz. 08-15-07) 
 
----------- 
VOTER LISTS 
----------- 
 
19. (U) A number of observers
and the CEC itself admitted that voter 
lists were not yet completely accurate. To address this issue, the 
CEC established ad hoc information offices in oblast centers, 
Almaty, and Astana to help re-direct voters if they arrive to vote 
and cannot find their name on voter lists.  The CEC publicly 
encouraged voters, through public service announcements and text 
messages, to verify their names in advance by visiting their polling 
place or the CEC website. 
 
ORDWAY

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