08ASTANA2153, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMATY NOTES, OCTOBER 13-24

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA2153 2008-10-31 06:08 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO9742
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RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK
RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #2153/01 3050608
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 310608Z OCT 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3700
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0753
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0152
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0862
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2036
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1985
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2321
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0311
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0231
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 0862

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 002153 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ECON SOCI KDEM KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  ALMATY NOTES, OCTOBER 13-24 
 
ASTANA 00002153  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. The "Almaty Notes" series from U.S. Office Almaty focuses on 
developments in civil society, the media, and the opposition in 
Kazakhstan's "southern capital." 
 
"PUBLIC PARLIAMENT" SUPPORTS ELECTION AMENDMENTS 
 
2.  During an October 13 meeting, the "Khalyk Kenesy" ("People's 
Parliament") expressed its support for a package of proposed 
amendments to Kazakhstan's election law drafted by the National 
Social Democratic Party (OSDP) and Azat, two of Kazakhstan's largest 
opposition parties.  The "Khalyk Kenesy" is an association of 
political parties, NGOs, and independent labor unions established in 
June at the initiative of OSDP leader Zharmakhan Tuyakbay as an 
"alternative" to Kazakhstan's one-party parliament.  (NOTE:  Azat, 
the Communist Party, and the ruling Nur Otan party are not 
participating in the "Khalyk Kenesy."  END NOTE.)  Under the draft 
election law proposed by OSDP and Azat, electoral commissions at all 
levels would include representatives of all political parties, 
political parties would be permitted to run together in electoral 
coalitions, electronic voting would be eliminated, and equal 
conditions would be mandated for all candidates and parties during 
election campaigns, including equal access to the broadcast mass 
media.  The "Khalyk Kenesy" threatened that its member organizations 
would boycott future elections if the government and parliament 
ignore the joint OSDP-Azat proposal. 
 
AZAT'S PROPOSALS FOR THE FINANCIAL CRISIS 
 
3.  On October 21, Azat party leaders held a press conference to 
publicize the party's strategy for dealing with the global financial 
crisis.  Azat head Bulat Abilov claimed the $5 billion that the 
government has allocated from the National (Oil) Fund to capitalize 
the Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund will be used to buy up 
shares of companies at inflated prices, to the benefit of President 
Nazarbayev's son-in-law Timur Kulibayev (who is Deputy Chairman of 
Samruk-Kazyna's Management Board) and other wealthy insiders. 
Abilov maintained that this money will be transferred overseas 
rather than flow back into the economy, doing nothing to alleviate 
the financial crisis.  He went on to lay out Azat's economic 
strategy:  use the funds to support pensioners, students, invalids, 
and low-paid government employees; renegotiate existing oil and gas 
contracts on terms more advantageous to Kazakhstan; and buy up 
shares of Kazakhstani companies in the extractive sector, such as 
KazakhMys, Ispat-Karmet, KazZinc and Eurasian Natural Resources 
Company.  Abilov demanded that Prime Minister Masimov resign because 
"the government has failed to cope with its duties; the economy is 
collapsing." 
 
HOUSING PROTESTS 
 
4.  On October 17, several dozen Almaty residents picketed the 
offices of KUAT -- one of Kazakhstan's largest construction 
companies -- demanding a meeting with KUAT President Oleg Nam.  The 
protestors said that Nam should resign his seat in the Almaty 
maslikhat (city council) and focus on his duties at KUAT.  They told 
the press that the company did not complete the construction of two 
apartment buildings and failed to hook up utilities to several 
others.  The group was received by a KUAT representative who assured 
them that the company would return their money invested into 
unfinished construction projects by the end of November. 
 
5.  On October 22, more than 100 Almaty residents who invested money 
in apartments that have not been completed gathered at the entrance 
of the Almaty city administration building demanding a meeting with 
Mayor Akhmetzhan Yesimov.  The protesters were holding placards with 
slogans such as "we will not permit 10 billion tenge allocated by 
the government to be embezzled" and "give us our apartments."  They 
demanded the transparent use of 10 billion tenge (approximately $83 
million) allocated to support the completion of construction 
projects in Almaty, including the publication of construction 
timetables and public control over the distribution of the funds. 
Deputy Mayor Serik Seydumanov received the protesters and promised 
 
ASTANA 00002153  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
to review their demands. 
 
6.  On October 23, several dozen Almaty residents who failed to meet 
their mortgage payments picketed Bank Turan Alem.  The group was 
protesting the fact that the
 bank started to auction off the 
properties of borrowers who failed to make their mortgage payments. 
They maintained that auctions in the absence of court rulings on 
foreclosure violate the constitution.  The protestors also wanted 
the bank to stop charging fees for late mortgage payments.   A bank 
official received representatives of the protest group and promised 
to examine every case individually.  According to the bank, 
approximately 2,000 of its mortgage borrowers are currently in 
arrears.  Civil society activist Aynur Kurmanov, head of the Talmas 
movement, asserted that mortgage borrowers face similar problems at 
every bank in Kazakhstan. 
 
HOAGLAND

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