08ASTANA1072, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, MAY 27 – JUNE 6, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1072 2008-06-09 13:01 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXYZ0009
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTA #1072/01 1611301
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091301Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2561
INFO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1912
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 8283
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 8165
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7328
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 2363
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1533

UNCLAS ASTANA 001072 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, MAY 27 - JUNE 6, 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. 
 
Hunger Strike Against Property Seizures 
--------------------------------------- 
 
2.  On June 2, eleven Almaty residents who had been on a hunger 
strike for two weeks held a press briefing for journalists.  The 
residents are protesting an attempt to demolish their houses and 
seize their land.   They allege that the Almaty municipal 
administration and a local court are biased in favor of a private 
construction company, City Service Invest Stroy (CSIS), which plans 
to build commercial buildings on a valuable 7.3 hectare land plot 
after evicting 264 local residents.  The majority of the residents 
refused to accept the meager compensation they were offered in 
return.  Every time the residents have tried to arrange protests 
against the seizure, their actions have been disrupted by law 
enforcement agencies.  Some of the residents allege that President 
Nazarbayev's nephew, Kayrat Satypaldy, has a financial interest in 
CSIS, which is the reason the municipal administration, courts, and 
law enforcement agencies have supported the company. 
 
3.  A group of opposition activists, including Petr Svoik and 
Marzhan Aspandiyarova from the Azat party, Amirbek Togusov from the 
National Social Democratic Party (OSDP), and Aynur Kurmanov from the 
Socialist Resistance movement, attended the press briefing and 
called on the residents to continue their protest actions.  Svoik 
seconded the residents' claim that someone very influential must be 
behind the construction company.  He said that the residents have 
created a precedent by standing up for their rights, and the 
authorities now fear that other people will do the same thing.  This 
was the reason that the authorities have pushed back so hard.   The 
residents reassured the oppositionists that they would continue 
their fight.  They also plan to address a complaint to the OSCE's 
Almaty office.  A police officer observed the press conference, but 
did not interfere. 
 
Rally in Support of Self-Styled Activist 
---------------------------------------- 
 
4.  On May 31, the day of commemoration for the victims of Stalinist 
repression, opposition activists organized a rally in Almaty in 
support of Nurlan Alimbekov.  Alimbekov, a self-styled human rights 
activist, was detained in August 2007 in Shymkent on charges of 
inciting inter-ethnic and inter-religious hatred through 
disseminating offensive emails.  He is currently being held in the 
Almaty pre-trial detention center awaiting his third psychiatric 
evaluation.  Participants in the sanctioned rally included relatives 
and friends of Alimbekov, as well as representatives of the leading 
opposition parties -- Azat, OSDP, and the Communist Party.  One 
protestor, Takhirzhan Akmetov, threatened to cut off his own finger 
and send it to President Nazarbayev if Alimbekov is not released. 
He was subsequently called in by the police for questioning. 
 
5.  Nurlan Alimbekov, born in 1964, is a graduate of Yekaterinburg 
State University.  He worked for the Ministry of Information and 
later was a researcher at the Academy of Sciences and a lecturer at 
several universities in South Kazakhstan oblast.  Before his arrest 
last year, Alimbekov, who purportedly published some articles in the 
opposition press, was unknown to the wider public.  He has 
maintained his innocence and claims the case against him was 
fabricated. 
 
Attempt to Seize Property of Agafe Church 
----------------------------------------- 
 
6.  Local authorities in the Karasay district of Almaty oblast are 
reportedly trying to seize the Agafe Evangelical Christian Church's 
land and building.  A district prosecutor has filed a motion asking 
a local court to rule that the transfer of this property to the 
church was illegal.  In 1997, a local official authorized the 
transfer of both the land and the building, which had previously 
been used for cultural events, to the Agafe church for free. 
According to a church representative, the church parish and 
missionaries from South Korea repaired the building.  Some 
unidentified individuals now want to seize this lucrative property, 
including the two-story building and 1309 square-meter land plot, 
the church representative claimed.  The district prosecutor alleges 
that the transfer was an illegal, unauthorized privatization. 
 
Opposition Journalist Bapi Accused of Slander 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
7.  A driver of one of the cars which reportedly surveilled 
opposition journalist Yermurat Bapi has filed a lawsuit against Bapi 
accusing him of slander, Bapi told Inkar internet radio in a June 5 
interview.  Bapi previously provided the license plate numbers of 
the cars to the Almaty office of the National Security Committee 
(KNB), and the KNB responded claiming they had identified th
e 
drivers.  Bapi suggested that the KNB made the driver file the 
lawsuit. 
 
Incident Involving Uzbek Refugees 
--------------------------------- 
 
8.  On May 29, the Almaty police detained three Uzbek refugees, 
Zhobir Aslonov, Yelmurat Khamzayev, and Khamid Makhmudov, while they 
were leaving the UNHCR office in Almaty.  Six police officers in 
civilian clothes handcuffed the refugees, put them in a car, and 
took them to a police station.  Two other refugees managed to flee 
the scene. 
 
9.  The detained refugees allege that they were questioned by the 
police and KNB officers in a rude manner and were threatened with 
deportation.  According to refugee Yelmurat Khamzayev, when he 
produced a refugee certificate issued by the UNHCR office, one of 
the officers told him: "You can use it as toilet paper as it has no 
value."  Khamzayev was ultimately allowed to call his wife and 
managed to tell her about the detention.  An hour later, a UNHCR 
representative and Denis Dzhivaga from the Human Rights Bureau NGO 
arrived at the police station.  The refugees were released shortly 
thereafter on instructions from the prosecutor's office. 
 
ORDWAY

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