08ASTANA498, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, FEBRUARY 25 – March 7, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA498 2008-03-13 06:56 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO3510
RR RUEHAST
DE RUEHTA #0498/01 0730656
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130656Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1979
INFO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1879
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 8250
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 8128
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7307
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 2338
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1521
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 0304

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000498 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, FEBRUARY 25 - March 7, 2008 
 
 
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. 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
True Ak Zhol Changes Name, Shuffles Leadership 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
2.  Opposition party True Ak Zhol held its fourth party congress in 
Almaty on February 29.  Congress delegates voted to change True Ak 
Zhol's name to Azat (i.e., "free" in Kazakh), in order to better 
distinguish the party from rival Ak Zhol.  Bulat Abilov was elected 
chairman of the renamed party, and Tulegen Zhukeyev was selected to 
be general secretary.  Oraz Zhandosov will remain in the party, but, 
as expected, will no longer hold a leadership position.  (Note: 
Prior to the party congress, Abilov, Zhukeyev, and Zhandosov were 
co-chairmen of True Ak Zhol.  End Note.) 
 
3. The Azat civic movement, a Kazakh nationalist group, plans to 
challenge True Ak Zhol's new name, Khasen Kozha-Akhmet, the leader 
of the organization, announced at a press conference in Almaty on 
March 4.  According to Kozha-Akhmet, Azat civic movement activists 
interpreted True Ak Zhol's move as an attempt to steal their own 
popular name.  The Azat civic movement was established in 1990 and 
re-registered in 2001.  Kozha-Akhmet cited Article 18 of the Law on 
Public Associations, which does not permit two public associations 
to have identical names.  On these grounds, the Azat civic movement 
is filing a complaint with the Ministry of Justice.  Should the 
Ministry ignore the complaint, the Azat civic movement will file 
suit in court against Bulat Abilov and his associates. 
 
----------------------- ----------------------- 
Abilov Ready For Dialogue With The Authorities? 
----------------------- ----------------------- 
 
4. "Many individuals in the Ak Orda [i.e., the Presidential 
Administration] and outside of it want to portray me as the 
President Nazarbayev's enemy, but I am not, we just have different 
views," opposition leader Bulat Abilov stated in an interview with 
the Vremya daily on March 6.  Abilov indicated that he is ready for 
dialogue with the government.  "And it looks like the Ak Orda has 
begun to understand this," he explained.  Abilov cited the recent 
appointment of Kairat Keimbetov to be head of the Presidential 
Administration as evidence of progress.  Abilov described Kelimbetov 
as a "person of democratic beliefs," who will say the right things 
to Nazarbayev. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
Protest Against Shopping Mall Construction 
------------------------------------------ 
 
5. TV Channel 31 reported that on March 1 in Almaty, approximately 
20 activists from the Azat (formerly True Ak Zhol) party and the 
Shanyrak civic movement held a demonstration on Almaty's Republic 
Square to protest against a new shopping mall that the city 
administration had started constructing under the square.  The 
protesters contended that it is inappropriate to build a shopping 
mall on a site where two decades earlier a "popular uprising for 
independence" took place.  (Note:  In December 1986, there were mass 
protests on the square by Kazakh youth in response to the removal of 
Kazakhstan's ethnic-Kazakh Communist Party First Secretary and his 
replacement by an ethnic Russian.  The protests were violently 
broken up by the Soviet authorities, reportedly resulting in several 
hundred deaths throughout Almaty.  End Note.)  The police detained 
eight protestors and held them at a local police station for four 
hours.  The following day, three demonstrators were fined and one 
received a warning.  The city administration had issued a permit for 
the demonstration -- but on the basis that it be held at a location 
on the outskirts of the city. 
 
----------------------------------- 
Karasu Residents Defend Their Homes 
----------------------------------- 
 
6. According to www.zonakz.net, on February 21, residents of Karasu 
village outside of Almaty blocked local authorities from demolishing 
13 of their homes.  Approximately 40 court officials and policemen 
accompanied a demolition team which was prepared to bulldoze the 
houses.  Local residents learned about the plans in advance and 
invited activists from the Shanyrak civic movement, residents of 
other locales victimized by demolitions, and media representatives 
to assist them in preventing the demolitions.   With the local 
residents armed with stones and bottles, the demolition team was 
forced to withdraw.  The residents now plan to appeal the results of 
an auction in which their houses and land had been sold to a little 
 
ASTANA 00000498  002 OF 002 
 
 
known company at a rock-bottom price. 
 
----------------------------- 
Underground Casinos in Almaty 
----------------------------- 
 
7. Almaty municipal police closed yet another underground casino on &
#x000A;February 29.  This was the tenth illegal casino discovered by police 
since the beginning of the year. 
 
ORDWAY

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