09ASTANA269, KAZAKHSTAN: MEDIA REACTION, FEBRUARY 7-13

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA269 2009-02-13 09:59 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1470
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK
RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0269/01 0440959
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 130959Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4616
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1191
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0765
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0681
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2155
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2483

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000269 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PROP EFIN MARR SOCI KPAO KMDR KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  MEDIA REACTION, FEBRUARY 7-13 
 
1.  (U) SUMMARY:  The reported closure of Manas Airbase in 
neighboring Kyrgyzstan continues to make news in Kazakhstan, 
spurring a number of stories about regional politics and the 
announcement of a Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) 
Rapid Response Force.  Both the closure decision and the CSTO Rapid 
Reaction Force were presented largely as a victory for Russia over 
the United States.  Meanwhile, as Kazakhstan instituted a 
devaluation of the national currency and a government buyout of two 
major private banks, the economic crisis is primarily being covered 
from a local perspective, with very little reference to the United 
States.  END SUMMARY 
 
ADVANTAGE RUSSIA 
 
2.  (U) Pro-government, Russian-language "Liter" announced that last 
week was very successful for Russia, as "Russian politicians managed 
to take Kyrgyzstan away from the Americans."  Even though "Russia 
tried to make it look like an independent decision by Kyrgyzstan... 
politicians in Moscow have started talking about the establishment 
of a Russian base in place of the American one."  In a recent 
article, "Liter" slightly revised its appraisal by stating that the 
base closure came "under pressure from Russia and Kazakhstan" and 
Russia and Kazakhstan are now taking control over Central Asia, 
demonstrating to America who is the master in the region." 
 
3.  (U) Pro-government, Kazakh-language "Aikyn" quotes political 
scientist Murat Laumulin as saying that due to President Obama's 
commitments to Afghanistan, the United States will need more bases, 
but that any future bases in the region "will be decided between the 
United States and Russia.  Russia is fighting to control U.S. 
activities in the region."  Laumulin thinks that it is "too late" 
for a U.S. base in Kazakhstan, due to Kazakhstan's other 
commitments. 
 
COUNTERWEIGHT 
 
4.  (U) "Liter" sees the establishment of a CSTO Rapid Reaction 
Force, "modeled after NATO," as necessary to respond to threats set 
in motion by "U.S. plans to intensify its anti-terrorist campaign in 
Afghanistan."  "The Pentagon... has a sorrowful war experience in 
Iraq that caused a huge flow of refugees," and speculated that 
similar refugee flows from Afghanistan could destabilize Central 
Asia.  The force could also fight drug trafficking.  "The United 
States didn't take decisive measures to decrease the opium crop, but 
Moscow is in a hurry to take care of this." 
 
5.  (U) Independent Russian-language "Delovaya Nedelya" describes 
the Rapid Reaction Force decision as "bringing back the ghost of the 
Warsaw Pact to compete with NATO."  It quotes unnamed Russian 
diplomats as saying that the purpose of the force is to "prevent 
post-Soviet republics from deepening relations with NATO," and 
wonders why Kazakhstan, with its lauded "multi-vector policy" joined 
the force.  "Kyrgyzstan, due to its poverty, changes its foreign 
policy convictions depending on who gives the most.  But why do we 
need this?" 
 
ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL 
 
6.  (U) The recent tenge devaluation and the government's entrance 
into the private banking sector have been almost completely reported 
in Kazakhstani terms, with only passing mentions of the 
international situation.  The devaluation has been described in one 
of two ways.  Pro-government, Russian-language "Express K" suggests, 
"By devaluating the tenge, the government did what it was supposed 
to do, breathing financial oxygen into the export-oriented sectors 
of the national economy."  However, pro-government, Russian-language 
"Central Asia Monitor" complained, "The devaluation is putting the 
load of the crisis on the shoulders of ordinary people.  It is 
pulling money out of the pockets of workers and pensioners.  It is 
absurd." 
 
7.  (U) The government's move to take controlling financial stakes 
in two major private banks is seen as a power struggle between the 
government and the former chairman of one of the banks in question, 
Mukhtar Ablyazov of BTA.  "Liter" quotes political observer Dosym 
Satpayev as saying that "the conflict between Mukhtar Ablyazov and 
the state is an echo of a more global process in which property is 
being redistributed to states."  Opposition "Respublika" published a 
 
ASTANA 00000269  002 OF 002 
 
 
statement by Ablyazov that the takeo
ver is "the result of constant 
and persistent government attempts to take BTA Bank using 'ambiguous 
methods.'"  Other than Satpayev's comment above, there has been 
little attempt to place the government's actions in an international 
context. 
 
HOAGLAND

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