08ASTANA2471, KAZAKHSTAN: SOCIAL MOVEMENTS IN HOUSING AND ECONOMIC

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA2471 2008-12-18 16:26 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO9924
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW
RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHROV
RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #2471/01 3531626
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181626Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4110
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0933
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0335
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1040
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0500
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0409
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 0989

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 002471 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM SOCI KDEM KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  SOCIAL MOVEMENTS IN HOUSING AND ECONOMIC 
ISSUES 
 
ASTANA 00002471  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1.  (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  On December 1, Charge d'Affaires met with Talmas 
movement leader Aynur Kurmanov.  Kurmanov discussed the impact of 
the current financial crisis and the creation of a "new poor class" 
from members of the middle class.  Kurmanov predicted that, given 
the change in their standard of living, certain members of the 
Kazakhstani middle class will become more politically active and 
join protest groups.  When asked about differences in policy between 
the government and opposition political parties, Kurmanov stated 
there were no policy or platform differences.  At one point during 
the meeting, Kurmanov commented, "We do not have political parties 
in Kazakhstan, just social movements."  END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  (SBU) Although relatively young, Kurmanov is very active in 
grass-roots social movements and the Communist Party.  In 2003, he 
was elected chairman of the Molodaya Gvardiya youth movement and was 
an activist with the Solidarnost labor movement and independent 
trade union at Uralsk's Mettalist plant until 2004.  After numerous 
arrests, Kurmanov left Uralsk in 2004, and resettled in Almaty, 
where he continued to work with the Solidarnost movement.  In 2006, 
Kurmanov founded the Socialist Resistance movement and erler thsy, he ette aa Qcy.  He 
claimed the government is gradually "nationalizing" the private 
sector and using the current economic crisis as an excuse to 
redistribute the assets of banks.  Kurmanov quoted a Kazakhstani 
economist who called the government "corrupt" for buying 25 per cent 
of shares in four leading banks and said he doubts the money set 
aside to solve the crisis will be used properly.  Kurmanov commented 
that one potential result of the government's actions will be the 
creation of mega-banks, (NOTE: which is also happening in the United 
States.  END NOTE.) 
 
6.  (SBU) Kurmanov reported that the current Memorandum of 
Understanding between the government and mining companies to prevent 
mass layoffs will expire on January 1, 2009.  He said that more than 
30,000 mining workers are currently on leave from mining companies 
in the country, including 5pz],Qanov told the Charge that on November 30, Yermukhamet 
Yertysbayev, currently an advisor to President Nazarbayev and 
previouslqf:9 said that "in times of crisis, 
the opposition and government should be one."  Kurmanov said he 
thought Yertysbayev's speech was an attempt to discover the 
opposition's plans prior to the next elections.  (NOTE:  While 
rumors of early elections continue, President Nazarbayev recently 
stated that the next elections will be held on schedule, in 2012. 
END NOTE.) 
 
8.  (SBU) When asked about the opposition's policy points, Kurmanov 
answered dismissively, saying the political opposition in Kazakhstan 
 
ASTANA 00002471  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
is weak.  He said that while the government might find a way to 
bring some opposition representatives into parliament, this will 
only be done "for the good of the West and OSCE."  Kurmanov argued 
that opposition in Kazakhstan is expressed through social problems, 
not political beliefs. Kurmanov said the Leave the Houses to the 
People movement has become one of the most active groups during the 
economic crisis.  He suggested this movement could inspire the 
formation of new trade unions and the development of other grass 
roots movements against unemployment and pension problems. 
 
9.  (SBU) NOTE:  Daulet Zhumabekov, leader of the BOMZh movement, 
was also expected to attend the December 1 meeting with the Charge. 
BOMZh, a Russian acronym for those without an official place of 
residence, is a movement of retired military personnel fighting to 
receive free housing promised by the Ministry of Defense.  Under 
Kazakhstani law, retired officers with 25 years of service are 
entitled to free apartments.  Several officers won a lawsuit against 
the Ministry of Defense for its failure to fulfill the housing 
obligation; but to date, none of the officers has received housing. 
On November 30, Zhumanbekov performed a unique protest act, climbing 
to the top of a construction crane in Almaty and refusing to come 
down for 11 hours.  Zhumabekov subsequently said his group's claims 
had not been satisfied, although Ministry of Defense (MOD) officials 
promised to re-examine them.  A few hours before the meeting at the 
Embassy Branch Office, post was informed that Zhumanbekov had &#x00
0A;traveled to Astana to meet with MOD officials.  END NOTE. 
 
10. (SBU) COMMENT:  Post has fruitlessly looked to find an 
opposition party with a defined policy platform.  The opposition 
political parties are organized around personalities, largely those 
who previously served in the government but subsequently split with 
Nazarbayev.  The "social movements" do have policy platforms, but 
are generally restricted to a single issue.  Nonetheless, these 
movements have had some limited success in changing government 
policy and may represent a first step toward a uniquely Kazakhstani 
path to exerting the people's will.  After all, historically in the 
United States, all great social movements have led to political 
results and enhanced democracy.  END COMMENT. 
 
HOAGLAND

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