08ASTANA1863, KAZAKHSTAN – CHARGE’S VISIT TO HARE KRISHNA SITE ATTRACTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1863 2008-09-24 11:12 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO0432
OO RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHMRE RUEHPOD RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #1863 2681112
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241112Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3387
INFO RUCNOSC/OSCE POST COLLECTIVE
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ASTANA 001863 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM KIRF PGOV KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN - CHARGE'S VISIT TO HARE KRISHNA SITE ATTRACTS 
INTEREST OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES 
 
1. (SBU) The Charge visited the Hare Krishna community 20 kilometers 
outside of Almaty on September 17.  The Krisha community's property 
at this site has been the subject of a long-running dispute with 
local authorities, who have tried to force the Krishnas off of their 
valuable land plot.  The head of Hare Krishna community, Victor 
Golous, led the Charge on a tour of the property, including the Hare 
Krishna temple, and described the problems the community was 
facing. 
 
2. (SBU) Just minutes after the Charge's arrival, several 
representatives of the local akimat (i.e., government 
administration), including the head of its internal affairs 
department, also arrived at the site.  They complained that the 
Charge was visiting the area without advance notice to the local 
authorities.  They maintained that when the British ambassador had 
visited the Hare Krishna community, he had provided such advance 
notice.  The Charge explained that he was not making an official 
visit to the region, but offered to pay a visit to the local akim 
(government administration head).  After calling her superiors, the 
internal affairs department head said that there was no need to 
visit the akim at this time.  (Note:  The MFA has made clear to us 
that diplomats do not need government approval to travel within 
Kazakhstan.  However, the MFA also requests that we notify them of 
any official travel outside of Astana, allegedly so they can ensure 
that protocol and security arrangements are in place.  Local 
authorities will only meet with diplomats if advance request is made 
through the MFA.  End Note.) 
 
3. (SBU) Following this incident, Golous explained to the Charge 
that approximately 30 Hare Krishna devotees reside at the site. 
Several hundred people, he maintained, attend Hare Krishna services 
there on Sundays.  This includes some local residents and their 
children, to whom the Hare Krishna community distributes food. 
Golous described relations between the community and local residents 
as amicable. 
 
4. (SBU) Golous reminded the Charge that the Hare Krishnas had 
recently rejected five land plots offered by local authorities in 
exchange for the Hare Krisha's current property.  According to 
Golous, two plots were too far (70 kilometers) from Almaty, out in 
the steppe with no roads, electricity, or water.  The community 
needs water for irrigation and for its 30 head of cattle.  A third 
plot was a former cemetery, and a fourth was adjacent to a cemetery. 
 In the end, the authorities actually withdrew the offer of the 
fourth plot because they decided they wanted to expand the cemetery. 
 The fifth plot is a dumping ground with no water or electricity 
supply. 
 
5. (SBU) According to Golous, the Hare Krishna community's latest 
counterproposal to the authorities is that they would keep a 
15-hectare portion of their current 47-hectare property, but not ask 
for any compensation in return.  The authorities have not responded 
to this offer.  Golous said that the Hare Krishnas have been invited 
to an OSCE meeting (presumably in Vienna) in October to explain 
their situation. 
 
6. (SBU) Comment:  The Hare Krishna stalemate may very well continue 
for some time.  The current climate for "non-traditional" religious 
groups (with, among other things, the government pressing for more 
restrictive legislation to control them better) does not augur for a 
mutually satisfactory resolution in the near future.  However, as we 
have stressed from the beginning, while this dispute is in part 
about religion -- the government harbors deep suspicions about the 
Hare Krishnas -- it is also in part about a valuable piece of land 
that other interested parties want for their own benefit.  End 
Comment. 
 
MILAS

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