08ASTANA1798, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, SEPTEMBER 2 – 12, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1798 2008-09-16 09:54 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO3724
RR RUEHAST
DE RUEHTA #1798 2600954
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160954Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3321
INFO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1943
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 8331
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 8195
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7352
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 2394
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1553
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 0731

UNCLAS ASTANA 001798 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, SEPTEMBER 2 - 12, 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. 
 
Unique Protest 
-------------- 
 
2. The Talmas youth movement, a group of young activists, organized 
an original political protest against the ruling Nur Otan party on 
August 30, Kazakhstan's Constitution Day.  Satirizing devotion to 
President Nazarbayev, the group marched down one of the main streets 
of Almaty wearing sheep's masks and carrying posters that said in 
Latin "the king's will is the highest law."  In comments to the 
media, the participants referred to themselves as the "Nur Otar" 
movement -- "Otar" means "flock of sheep" in Kazakh -- and called on 
Nazarbayev to disband the Parliament as "a useless body."  "We have 
neither faces nor names," said one protestor, "Kazakhstani society 
should seek the same facelessness: only numbers, sheep number one, 
sheep number two, etc." 
 
3.  Police broke up the protest and detained participants for 
several hours.  On September 4, an Almaty administrative court 
sentenced the leader of the Talmas movement, noted civil society 
activist Aynur Kurmanov, to 15 days in jail for organizing a rally 
without proper authorization.  Three other protest participants were 
fined between 17,000 and 23,000 tenge (approximately $140 to $190). 
 
 
Libel Suits Against Opposition Newspaper Taszhargan 
------------------------------- ------------------- 
 
4. In August, a court ordered the opposition newspaper Taszhargan to 
publish a second retraction of an article that ostensibly defamed 
Beket Turgarayev, chairman of the North Kazakhstan oblast court. 
Turgarayev was allegedly not satisfied with a previous retraction 
published in May.   In addition to Turgarayev's suit, the paper is 
being sued for libel by parliamentarian Roman Madinov, two 
businessmen, and the head of a civil society organization. 
Taszhargan maintains that if the courts find the paper liable in any 
of these cases, it would not be able to cover the damage claims and 
would thus be forced to close. 
 
Masimov Tells Contractors to Speed Up 
------------------------------------- 
 
5. On September 8, Prime Minister Masimov visited several of the 
sites which will host the Asian Winter Games in Almaty in 2011.  He 
toured the Medeu skating rink and the Chimbulak ski resort.  Masimov 
asked contractors to step up their construction and renovation work, 
explaining that President Nazarbayev is not satisfied with the pace 
of their efforts. 
 
MILAS

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