09ASTANA415, KAZAKHSTAN: MEDIA REACTION, FEBRUARY 28-MARCH 6

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA415 2009-03-06 09:05 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1912
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 #0415/01 0650905
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 060905Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4833
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1308
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0869
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0782
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 2193
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2521

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000415 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL EFIN MARR SOCI KPAO KMDR KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  MEDIA REACTION, FEBRUARY 28-MARCH 6 
 
1.  SUMMARY:  During the week of February 28-March 6, Kazakhstani 
media gravitated away from specific discussions on the Manas base 
issue in favor of broader analyses of Central Asia's strategic 
orientation toward Russia and the United States.  The Department's 
recently released 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 
received modest attention in government and opposition newspapers. 
Meanwhile, media reported some back-and-forth between government and 
opposition about Internet freedom, as well as recent critical 
statements on minority religious groups.  END SUMMARY. 
 
WHICH WAY TO LOOK? 
 
2.  While there was a noticeable decline in editorial pieces on the 
Manas base issue and its potential fallout, Kazakhstani media 
continued to ruminate about the region's perceived east-versus-west 
balancing act.  The "Central Asia Monitor," a pro-government weekly, 
weighed the question of whether Central Asian states should 
cooperate with NATO, painting the choice as one between "turning 
completely" toward the United States and NATO or using "Eastern 
bargaining" to extract American investments while maintaining solid 
relations with Russia and China.  The article asserted that NATO, 
rather than the CSTO or SCO, is the only organization able to 
contain the spillover threat posed by the conflict in Afghanistan. 
Central Asian states "should care less" about what others say and 
continue to seek cooperative relations with the West.  The article 
stated that the United States and NATO have proposed "profitable 
deals" and are "willing to pay a reasonable price" for such 
cooperation. 
 
3.  Pro-government daily "Aikyn" weighed the geopolitical situation 
of Central Asia amid conditions of a global economic recession.  The 
article focused on the need to unite as Central Asian states, and 
that all find themselves subject to U.S. and Russian attempts to 
"use the economic situation for political purposes to strengthen 
their position in the region." 
 
HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT (HRR) REACTION: NOT MUCH OF A SPLASH... YET 
 
4.  The Department's recently released 2008 Country Reports on Human 
Rights Practices received modest coverage during the week, mostly 
focused on factual statements of the report's content rather than 
editorializing about its impact.  (NOTE: This may in part be due to 
the fact that the report has only been distributed in English; 
Russian and Kazakh translations are in process.  END NOTE.) 
 
5.   A wire report from state-supported Interfax-Kazakhstan noted 
that human rights remain "a cause of concern for the U.S. 
administration" despite some improvements in the Central Asian 
states, and cited serious problems with "basic rights, including 
freedom of association, expression, and religion" that persist in 
all five states.  Kazakhstan-specific references in the article 
included Internet blockages of opposition websites, freedom of 
religion coming "under attack" in parliament, and continued use of 
child labor. 
 
6.  Radio Azattyk, the local RFE/RL broadcaster, summarized the 
report with slightly more demonstrative language.  The piece 
highlighted points made in the report about core political rights, 
including the "severely restricted" right of citizens to change 
their government or criticize their leadership and the concentration 
of power in the President's hands. 
 
WHODUNIT CONTINUES ON INTERNET BLOCKAGES 
 
7.  Media also reported on the ongoing back-and-forth between 
opposition news outlets and Prime Minister Karim Masimov's office 
over the recent blockages of several opposition and government Web 
sites.  The independent site www.zonakz.net published an open letter 
detailing the sequence of blockages and asking Prime Minister 
Masimov if he has anything to do with it.  Opposition 
www.respublika-kz.info covered a press conference by www.zonakz.net 
Editor-in-Chief Yuriy Mizinov where he claimed that the government 
-- and Prime Minister Masimov personally -- have an interest in 
seeing the blockages continue.  "Certainly it's not an accusation 
that you (Masimov) organized the attacks," said Mizinov, "but it is 
a question you must answer."  According to the report, Prime 
Minister Masimov tasked his staff to look into the attacks, but 
remained silent about a request to recall from Parliament a recently 
 
ASTANA 00000415  002 OF 002 
 
 &#x000A
;proposed Internet law that would enhance the government's legal 
grounds to block websites. 
 
8.  According to the independent "Vremya" newspaper, the draft 
Internet law motivated a group of Internet users to form a group to 
oppose passage of this legislation.  The article reports that 
members of "For a Free Internet" warn that there is "no guarantee" 
that popular social network sites would not be hamstrung by 
blockages if the amendments are approved.  The group called for all 
Internet users-- Facebook users included -- to post entries on Prime 
Minister Masimov's blog voicing objection to the draft law. 
 
"PSEUDO" RELIGIONS RECEIVE STRONLGY UNFAVORABLE COVERAGE 
 
9.   The pro-government daily "Express K" covered statements by the 
Deputy Akim (Deputy Governor) of East Kazakhstan oblast, Amankeldi 
Tazhanov, about the "destabilizing influence" of non-traditional and 
minority religious groups.  Making no distinction between religious 
adherents and extremists, the article noted Tazhenov's 
recommendations that the government suspend the activity of two 
Protestant schools and an Islamic institute. 
 
HOAGLAND

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