08ASTANA2374, KAZAKHSTANI BORDER GUARDS EAGER FOR INL-SUPPORTED OSCE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA2374 2008-12-01 02:21 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO2544
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ
RUEHNEH RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #2374/01 3360221
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 010221Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3999
INFO RUCNCLS/SCA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0874
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0441
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0356
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 002374 
 
SIPDIS 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KPAO KZ
 
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTANI BORDER GUARDS EAGER FOR INL-SUPPORTED OSCE 
TRAINING 
 
1. Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for internet distribution. 
 
2. (SBU) SUMMARY:  DCM, INL chief and Legatt visited Uralsk, the 
capital of the Western Kazakhstan oblast (region).  While in Uralsk, 
the DCM and INL chief dedicated an INL-funded Border Guard training 
facility.  Following Soviet tradition, the Border Guards are a 
military wing of the Committee for National Security (KNB), the 
direct descendent of the KGB.  At the facility, the OSCE, UNHCR and 
other international organizations were conducting well-received 
training in basic border management, which includes international 
standards for the treatment of border crossers, including refugees. 
In general, the Border Guards have been eager to cooperate with 
Western organizations.  END SUMMARY. 
 
3. (SBU) Uralsk is an old city by Kazakhstani standards, with a 
history dating to the 18th century, when it was a Cossack trading 
post on the border with Central Asia.  The city still has a strong 
Russian colonial flavor with numerous small wooden houses painted 
bright blue, green or left natural, with contrasting painted 
shutters.  A persistent Russian cultural influence was evident at a 
local Orthodox church, where DCM observed an elderly woman praying 
to and kissing an icon of the murdered Tsar Nicholas II and his 
family.  Local residents also proudly related their link to Russian 
history and highlighted visits to Uralsk by Pushkin and Tolstoy. 
Kazkahs are from the lesser (Western) juz but rarely is the Kazakh 
language heard on the streets.  In other ways, however, Uralsk is a 
typical modern Kazakhstani city.  The city square has 
newly-constructed office buildings of equal size for the city 
administration (Mazlihat), the Western Kazakhstan governor's office 
(Akimat), and Nur Otan (President Nazarbayev's political party). 
The latter two are separate buildings connected by a breezeway for 
convenience of access. 
 
4.  (SBU) A review of the border history of Uralsk was particularly 
appropriate, since the primary purpose of the visit was to 
inaugurate an INL-renovated training center for the Border Guards. 
This is the second INL-funded training center at a Border Guard 
base.  The Border Guards are part of the Committee for National 
Security (KNB), the Kazakhstani direct descendent of the soviet KGB. 
 The Border Guards are enthusiastic about cooperation with the 
United States and other Western partners.  The first training 
course, which launched the opening of the center, featured training 
by the OSCE, EU, International Organization for Migration (IOM), and 
UNHCR.  The goal of the course was to increase the professionalism 
of the Border Guards, by getting them to focus on protecting the 
rights of individuals while preventing the transit of contraband 
(drugs, trafficked persons, materials that could be used for 
creating weapons of mass destruction). 
 
5.  (SBU) Durman Yelmesov, a young major in command of the Uralsk 
border post, is enthusiastic about cooperation with Western 
partners.  He and Colonel Akmetov, who is in charge of the anti-drug 
office in Astana, joked how wherever Yelmesov went he established 
training centers.  They both asked for additional training in all 
aspects of detecting contraband and convicting smugglers. 
Conversations with the OSCE, UNHCR, EU, and IOM confirmed the Border 
Guards' enthusiasm for training, including courses on the rights of 
citizens and refugees.  Kazakhstan's record of protecting refugees 
has been impressive on most of its borders.  However, there are 
still political issues with China that prevent Kazakhstan from 
admitting Uyghurs. 
 
6. (SBU) The apparent liberalism of the Border Guards officers, 
however, was not unlimited.  IOM had encouraged the Border Guards to 
have the press at the opening of the training course.  After 
initially indicating support, the base commander subsequently 
decided to issue a press release and not have reporters present at 
the event.  He explained that he could not allow the press into the 
training site since it was a "sensitive military zone."  The DCM 
later explained to the commander that only by opening to the media 
could the Border Guards improve its image of service to the public. 
Neither officer objected to this point. 
 
7.  (SBU)  In addition, during this visit the Legatt conducted an 
interview with an officer from the Kazakhstani Agency for Combating 
Economic Crimes and Corruption (aka Financial Police) to attend 
training at the FBI National Academy.  Post anticipates that this 
 
ASTANA 00002374  002 OF 002 
 
 
January, the first Kazakhstani law enforcement official will begin 
long-term training in the United States.  This
 will add to the 
approximately 175 Kazakhstani officers already trained at the 
International Law Enforcement Academy in Hungary. 
 
8.  (SBU) Just before departure, the DCM, INL officer and Legatt 
attended a standing-room only discussion of the U.S. presidential 
elections at the Uralsk American Corner.  The questions from the 
largely student crowd were well-informed and positive.  One student 
asked why the Peace Corps had withdrawn its volunteers from Uralsk 
and said that the Peace Corps was missed.  The answer was that due 
to the distance from Peace Corps headquarters in Almaty, resource 
limitations prevented the Peace Corps from supporting volunteers in 
Western Kazakhstan and the Caspian region.  It was clear that the 
students present had a strong desire for western and specifically 
American contacts. 
 
9.  (SBU) COMMENT:  Embassy cooperation with the Border Guards has 
been excellent and is well-documented (septel).  It was surprising, 
however, to find the Border Guards also eager to cooperate with 
OSCE, UNHCR and other international organizations.  In general, the 
citizens of western Kazakhstan, an area visited less frequently than 
the Caspian region, seemed eager to meet Americans and were positive 
in their outlook toward the United States.  One problem for the 
population seemed to be access to the world from their isolated 
location on Russia's southern border.  Internet access is rare and 
slow.  The sites where public internet stations were available were 
very heavily used.  The presence of the American Corner offered one 
of the few windows on the world outside of Kazakhstan and Russia. 
END COMMENT. 
 
MILAS

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