08ASTANA1946, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, SEPTEMBER 15-26, 2008

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1946 2008-10-01 12:02 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO6010
RR RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHPW RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #1946/01 2751202
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011202Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3488
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0658
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 2186
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0061
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0770
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 0023
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1947
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 0771
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0138
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0216
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 001946 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI KCRM KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  ALMATY NOTES, SEPTEMBER 15-26, 2008 
 
ASTANA 00001946  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (U) 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. 
 
DEMONSTRATION IN SUPPORT OF THE KAZAKH LANGUAGE 
 
2. (U) On September 21 in Almaty, several Kazakh nationalist 
organizations, together with other NGOs and representatives of three 
leading opposition parties -- Azat, the National Social Democratic 
Party (OSDP), and Alga -- participated in a demonstration aimed at 
pressing the government to do more to promote the Kazakh language. 
Well-known poet and ex-parliamentarian Mukhtar Shakhanov and his NGO 
Memlekettik Tili (i.e., "State Language") were the driving force 
behind the event.  An estimated 1000 to 3000 people attended the 
rally, which was sanctioned by the authorities. 
 
3. (SBU) All the speeches to the crowd were delivered in Kazakh -- 
which made it readily apparent that not all the speakers were 
themselves proficient in the language.  OSDP deputy chairman 
Amirzhan Kosanov demonstrated the strongest Kazakh language skills 
among the opposition leaders.  Azat leader Bulat Abilov managed to 
muster only brief remarks, while Shanyrak movement head (and former 
Alga chairman) Asylbek Kozhakhmetov could barely get out a word of 
Kazakh.  (NOTE:  Current Alga head Vladimir Kozlov did not attend 
the demonstration.  Kozlov, an ethnic Russian, does not speak any 
Kazakh.  END NOTE.)  They and other speakers nevertheless stressed 
that Kazakh should be used more in the public life of the country, 
including by the government.  There was agreement that the 
government should pass a law making knowledge of Kazakh obligatory 
for all citizens.  Shakhanov criticized the government's efforts to 
promote tri-lingualism -- i.e., proficiency in Kazakh, Russian, and 
English -- as inhibiting the development of the Kazakh language. 
Several speakers called for renaming Kazakhstan the "Kazakh 
Republic." 
 
4. (SBU) A representative from the Almaty mayor's office also 
delivered remarks -- though they were largely anodyne. Other city 
officials attended but did not speak.  They reportedly told NGO 
activist Bakhytzhan Toregozhina that they were at the demonstration 
as private citizens, rather than in their official capacity. 
(COMMENT:  Some in the opposition camp complained that the mayor's 
office supported the demonstration to divert the attention of the 
public away from economic problems -- but the motivations for the 
participation of the opposition leaders, all of whose parties are 
non-nationalist, are perhaps equally suspect.  END COMMENT.) 
 
NGO DENIED REGISTRATION YET AGAIN 
 
5. (U) For the third time, the Society of Young Professionals has 
been denied registration at the national level, its head, Nurul 
Rakhimbek, told journalists on September 22.   The Society is 
registered in Almaty, but wants national-level registration so that 
it can establish offices in other regions.  Rakhimbek said that the 
Ministry of Justice denied the organization's third attempt to 
register because of alleged errors in the Kazakh-language version of 
its application. "They said there were errors, but did not specify 
what they were," claimed the Society's executive director, Olesya 
Khalabuzar.  The organization maintains that the real reason for its 
registration problems is that the government does not approve of its 
work, which is largely focused on community organizing. 
 
FARE INCREASES DEMANDED FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT 
 
6. (U) On September 22, several privately-owned transit companies in 
Almaty went on strike, suspending bus services for a day.  The 
companies demanded the government approve fare increases and end 
fare discounts, complaining that their costs had increased, largely 
because of rising fuel prices.   Over 800 buses failed to complete 
their routes.  The Almaty mayor's office held an urgent meeting with 
the companies, offering 100 million tenge (approximately $830,000) 
in immediate assistance and promising to hold public hearings on bus 
fares.  The city government plans to establish three municipal 
transit companies to compete with the private companies. 
 
CRIME SUSPECT JUMPS FROM POLICE STATION WINDOW 
 
 
ASTANA 00001946  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
7. (U) The Interior Ministry reported in a September 18 press 
release that a suspect being interrogated at an Almaty police 
station hit an investigator and then jumped out a fifth floor 
window.  The suspect died two hours later in the hospital.  The 
individual had been detained on suspicions that
he had stolen a 
briefcase out of an automobile. 
 
HOAGLAND

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