08ASTANA2182, KAZAKHSTAN: ELECTION EVENTS RAISE AWARENESS OF AMERICAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA2182 2008-11-05 11:56 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO3565
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW
RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHSR
RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #2182/01 3101156
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051156Z NOV 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3745
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0777
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0176
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0886
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 0090
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2010
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2344
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0339
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0258
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 002182 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARMENT FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD, ECA, AND IIP 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV SCUL OIIP KPAO KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  ELECTION EVENTS RAISE AWARENESS OF AMERICAN 
DEMOCRACY 
 
1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2. (U) SUMMARY:  Mission Kazakhstan conducted a wide variety of 
events to raise awareness of the 2008 U.S. elections in Kazakhstan 
and underscore our commitment to democratic values.  Activities 
included distributing election-related materials, hosting an 
election speaker, sending nine Kazakhstanis to the United States to 
view the democratic process first-hand, and organizing a variety of 
programs at American Corners throughout the country.  Festivities 
culminated in election-day breakfast events hosted by the Embassy in 
Astana and the Branch Office in Almaty.  Guests appreciated the 
opportunity to watch live returns and cast their ballots in a mock 
election.  END SUMMARY. 
 
ELECTION EVENT AT EMBASSY ASTANA 
 
3. (U) On November 5, Embassy Astana hosted approximately 250 guests 
for an election day event.  Beginning at 7:30 am local time (8:30 pm 
EST), the Embassy welcomed Kazakhstani guests and members of the 
diplomatic community to experience this year's historic election. 
The event was held in the Embassy's atrium, which was adorned with 
red, white, and blue decorations.  Three televisions broadcast live 
returns, and one computer station provided internet updates.  Guests 
were encouraged to take Democratic and Republican campaign 
paraphernalia as well as IIP-provided election materials.  Foreign 
guests also participated in a mock election (the results:  Senator 
Obama: 90 votes; Senator McCain: 11 votes). 
 
4.  (U) Guests started queuing outside the Embassy at 6:45 am. 
Presidential Advisor (and former Information and Culture Minister) 
Yermukhamet Yertysbayev, a Kazakhstani parliamentarian, several 
members of the Central Election Commission, and several officials 
from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the event. 
Enthusiastic students, educators, alumni of U.S. 
government-sponsored exchange programs, and employees of 
non-governmental organizations comprised the majority of our guests, 
and a number of diplomats came as well. 
 
5.  (U) Attendees were largely familiar with the candidates, but had 
a limited understanding of the American electoral system.  Many were 
surprised to learn that Americans were not just voting for 
president, but also for members of Congress, as well as on a wide 
range of state and local measures. 
 
6.  (SBU) The students overwhelmingly indicated support for Senator 
Obama, citing his "youth, energy, and focus on change."  Or, as one 
said simply, "I like his smile."  University administrators and 
educators preferred Senator McCain, however, citing his many years 
of public service and strong military credentials.  "I like Obama, 
too," admitted one university administrator, "But he needs another 
20 years of experience before becoming president."  Azerbaijani 
Ambassador to Kazakhstan Lyattif Gandilov was particularly 
disappointed when Obama was declared the victor.  He argued that 
McCain's experience was essential in these difficult times, and 
feared that Obama will change U.S. policy and officially recognize 
as a genocide the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians during the 
First World War. 
 
7.  (U) The Astana election event was covered by many national and 
local television companies, including Khabar TV, Kazakhstan TV, 
Rakhat TV, Astana TV, Channel 31, and Era TV.  Print journalists 
included representatives from wire services (Interfax, Reuters, 
KazTAG) and newspapers (Panorama, Info-Tess, Izvestiya-Kazakhstan.) 
The journalists interviewed the Ambassador and were interested in 
learning what the election results would mean for U.S. policy.  The 
Ambassador responded by reassuring them that major foreign policy 
changes regarding U.S. relations with Kazakhstan were not expected, 
no matter which party won. 
 
8.  (U) During a meeting later in the day, Minister of Information 
 
ASTANA 00002182  002 OF 003 
 
 
and Culture Mukhtar Kul-Mukhammed congratulated the Ambassador on 
the U.S. election and described it as "a great festival of 
democracy." 
 
ELECTION EVENTS AT BRANCH OFFICE ALMATY 
 
9. (U) Branch Office Almaty hosted a parallel event for 
approximately 130 guests at USAID's offices.  Live television feeds &#x
000A;and computers with internet access provided up-to-the minute 
updates.  Embassy staff further educated attendees about the 
election by showing biographical videos of the Democratic and 
Republic candidates, and by distributing a wide variety of IIP 
material and campaign paraphernalia. 
 
10. (U) Foreign guests also voted in a mock election (Senator Obama: 
62, Senator McCain: 10).  One Kazakhstani opposition figure said he 
was so excited to watch democracy at work that he voted twice.  The 
leader of "Pokoleniye," a pensioners' NGO, suggested inviting 
Senator Obama to be the next leader of Kazakhstan and sending 
Kazakhstani President Nazarbayev to the United States.  Another 
contact sent a text-message that said "Obama 2030," a reference to 
the Government of Kazakhstan's grand development plans for the 
country by the year 2030. 
 
11.  (U) The Almaty-based press also covered the event.  Journalists 
included representatives from Channel 31, KTK TV, Liter, Svoboda 
Slova, Ekspress K, zonak.net, stantv.kz, Kazinform News Agency, 
Radio Azattyk (RFE/RL), and Obshestvennaya Pozitsiya.  As in Astana, 
journalists were particularly interested in what the election would 
mean for U.S. policy, particularly U.S.-Russia relations.  Several 
were also interested in the mechanics of overseas voting, and one 
asked if the United States puts this event on "every year." 
 
12.  (SBU) The Almaty event had been scheduled to take place at the 
American Cultural Center, which is located at the National Library 
and is co-sponsored by Chevron.  However, despite a Memorandum of 
Understanding (MOU) that commits the library to "conduct activities 
planned jointly with the U.S. embassy" and "provide free and open 
access to the center for everyone without restriction," the director 
of the library, Obynbasar Isakhov, objected to the inclusion on the 
guest list of leaders of the political opposition members and a 
representative of the Jehovah's Witnesses.  (NOTE:  This is just the 
latest problem with the director, who has increasingly limited the 
center's activities, including refusing to grant access to an 
American Fulbrighter who had scheduled a talk there in April and 
restricting or removing cable television access.  We are currently 
in the process of reviewing this MOU and exploring options to end 
the relationship with the National Library.  END NOTE.) 
 
AMERICAN CORNER FESTIVITIES 
 
13.  (U) All eight American Corners in Kazakhstan also engaged in 
election activity.  Corners distributed election-related materials; 
organized presentations, discussions, and round-tables with election 
themes; and screened the candidates' biographies.  Each Corner also 
organized a mock election.  Voting began on October 28 and 
culminated on November 4.  Votes were counted by agreed-upon 
election committees and relayed by phone to Embassy Astana during 
its November 5 election event.   The results were then posted on a 
large map:  1170 foreign nationals voted at American Corners across 
Kazakhstan -- 966 for Senator Obama and 204 for Senator McCain. 
Nine Peace Corps volunteers and three alumni of U.S. 
government-sponsored programs provided invaluable support to the 
American Corners' election programs. 
 
OTHER ELECTION PROGRAMS 
 
14.  (U) Other election-related activities included nominating 
Magzhan Ilyassov, head of the Presidential Administration's Foreign 
Policy Center, to observe the elections through the "I-Vote" 
 
ASTANA 00002182  003 OF 003 
 
 
International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP); sending three 
Kazakhstani journalists to participate in events organized by the 
Foreign Press Center; sponsoring Swarthmore College political 
science Professor Carol Nackenoff to speak about the elections in 
Astana, Almaty, Karaganda, and Kostenai; and supporting five members 
of Kazakhstan's Central Election Committee in their travel to the 
United States to observe the elections firsthand. 
 
HOAGLAND

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