08ASTANA1007, KAZAKHSTAN – ALMATY NOTES, MAY 12 – MAY 23, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1007 2008-05-29 12:18 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXYZ0010
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTA #1007/01 1501218
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291218Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2497
INFO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1910
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 8278
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 8159
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7323
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 2357
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1531

UNCLAS ASTANA 001007 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN - ALMATY NOTES, MAY 12 - MAY 23, 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. 
 
National Social Democratic Party Initiates Coalition 
--------------------- ------------------------------ 
 
2.  The National Social Democratic Party (OSDP) has initiated a new 
political coalition called "Khalyk Kenes" (People's Discussion), 
party leader Zharmakhan Tuyakbay told Inkar internet radio in a May 
15 interview.  According to Tuyakbay, the coalition is an 
alternative to parliament and a place for dialogue among various 
political forces.  About 30 political leaders, including leaders of 
small pro-government political parties, have signed on to the 
project.  However, two key opposition parties -- Bulat Abilov's Azat 
(formerly True Ak Zhol) Party and Serikbolsyn Abdildin's Community 
Party refused to join.  Tuyakbay attributed this to the fact that 
Azat and the Communists are at odds with two parties that did join 
the coalition:  Alikhan Baimenov's Ak Zhol Party and Vladislav 
Kosaryev's People's Communist Party. 
 
Media Watchdog NGO Facing Financial Problems 
--------------------- ---------------------- 
 
3.  The AdilSoz media watchdog NGO is on the verge of ceasing its 
activities, its head, Tamara Kaleyeva, announced at a press 
conference in Almaty on May 13.  Beginning June 1, AdilSoz's 
principal source of funding, the Open Society Institute, which has 
paid its office rent, staff wages, and communication expenses, will 
terminate AdilSoz's financing.  According to Kaleyeva, AdilSoz will 
try to survive on small grants and by cutting its expenses. 
 
Newspaper Publisher Accused on Bribery 
---------- --------------------------- 
 
4.  The publisher of the newspaper Anti-Corruption Bulletin, 
Tokbergen Abiyev, was detained while passing a bribe to an officer 
of the Financial Police, law enforcement authorities reported on May 
20.  Abiyev was reportedly offering $1,600 plus 50,000 tenge ($417) 
to the officer in exchange for comprising information about judges. 
A criminal case has been filed against Abiyev. 
 
5.  Tokbergen Abiyev was previously the publisher of Zakon i 
Pravosudiye ("Law and Justice"), a newspaper which was closed 
several months ago by a court ruling.  He subsequently launched 
Anti-Corruption Bulletin.  Abiyev published a number of articles 
criticizing corruption in the judicial system. 
 
Bomb Goes Off Under Journalist's Car 
--------------- -------------------- 
 
6.  A bomb was apparently placed under the car of journalist 
Yermurat Bapi of the Taszhargan opposition newspaper on May 8. 
Though it went off, the detonation was not powerful enough to damage 
the gas tank and cause it to explode.  "Mostly likely, it was purely 
an act of intimidation.  If somebody wanted truly to make an attempt 
on my life, there are many opportunities," Bapi commented at a May 
13 press conference in Almaty.  Bapi suggested that the incident was 
the latest "warning" for his critical reporting about high ranking 
officials and businessmen.  In March, Bapi claimed that unidentified 
individuals shot two bullets through his office window.  The police 
launched a criminal investigation into that case, but Bapi has 
received no word about the status of the investigation.  Bapi has 
filed a report on the bombing incident with the Almaty branch of the 
National Security Committee (KNB). 
 
Call for Granting Amnesty to Squatters 
---------------------- --------------- 
 
7.  "We consider it necessary to pass a law legalizing ownership of 
land plots that have been illegally occupied by squatters.  They 
have been living there for three to five years.  There are only two 
ways to solve the problem:  either to drive out these people by 
force or to legalize their status," the leader of the Shanyrak 
movement, Asylbek Khozhakhmetov, remarked at conference on internal 
migration issues held at parliament on May 15.  Kozhakhmetov also 
proposed setting up public commissions on land plot and demolishment 
issues in every major city in Kazakhstan.  According to 
Kozhakhmetov, in 2007, 24 protest actions against confiscation and 
demolishment of residences were held in Almaty.  As a result, 144 
people were detained and 28 brought to administrative account. 
 
8.  Almaty's new mayor, Akhmetzhan Yesimov, has set up a special 
commission on the problems of illegal settlements in Almaty's 
outskirts, Megapolis weekly reported on May 12.  The commission is 
supposed to propose recommendations within several weeks.  Heads of 
Almaty district administrations have been instructed to help the 
residents of these settlements with registration and obtaining 
social benefits. 
 
Hunger Strike Against Confiscation of Houses 
---------------------- --------------------- 
 
9.  A group of Almaty residents intends to start a hunger strike in 
protest
 against a city government ruling on seizing their residences 
for "state needs," www.kub.info reported on May 16.  Their request 
to set up a protest tent behind Almaty's Saryarka Cinema was denied 
by the authorities.  The residents instead plan to hold a protest 
action in the courtyard of the residential building where they live. 
 
 
ORDWAY

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