09ASTANA449, KAZAKHSTAN: MEDIA REACTION, MARCH 7-13

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA449 2009-03-13 09:50 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO9955
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 #0449/01 0720950
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 130950Z MAR 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4902
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1364
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0926
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0839
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2209
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2539

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000449 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL EFIN MARR SOCI KPAO KMDR AF KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  MEDIA REACTION, MARCH 7-13 
 
1.  (U) SUMMARY:  During the week of March 7-13, Kazakhstani media 
buzzed with reactions to President Nazarbayev's annual address to 
the nation on March 6.  Coverage was widely positive with criticism 
coming largely from opposition sources.  Issues of media freedom, 
specifically the court decision and fine against the opposition 
newspaper "Tazhargan," continued to attract media attention during 
the week.  While editorial space dedicated to the Manas air base and 
perceived "power struggle" for Central Asia was scant compared to 
the past few weeks, one major paper ran an editorial criticizing the 
U.S. government's understanding of the situation in Afghanistan and 
highlighting the opportunity for Central Asian states to play a 
strategic role in addressing it.  END SUMMARY. 
 
PRESIDENT REASSURES THE NATION, OR DOES HE? 
 
2.   (U) Coverage in pro-government newspapers of reactions to 
President Nazarbayev's March 6 address to the nation was widespread, 
and largely positive.  Several government officials lined up to 
praise publicly the tone and content of the speech.  "It was a 
sincere and brave message," said parliamentarian Yerlan Nigmatulin, 
in an article in pro-government "Liter."  Noting the President's 
assurances that government funding for social programs would be 
maintained despite the economic crisis, Nigmatulin applauded this 
"guarantee that in this hard period of financial turbulence, no 
Kazakhstani will be left without the government's support."  Another 
"Liter" article quoted the Deputy Chairman of the Assembly of 
Peoples, Yeraly Tuzhganov, as saying that the President's statements 
on social obligations were reflective of the government's 
"optimistic mindset."  The same paper described the instant optimism 
brought about by the President's speech by quoting Acting Chairman 
of the Public Service Agency Aryn Orsariyev:  "Everything became 
clear and the fear of unemployment disappeared."  Pro-government 
"Express K" noted that Azat Peruashev, Chairman of the Atameken 
National Economic Chamber, a pro-government business association, 
had said the tone was "appropriate and sincere" and made comparisons 
to the addressess of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt during the 
Great Depression. 
 
3.   (U) Opposition newspaper "Tazhargan," itself the subject of 
media attention (see para 4), was predictably less rosy about the 
President's speech.  "Tazhargan" printed an article by Peter Svoik, 
Deputy Chairman of the Azat opposition party, who cited the 
President's "double dose of bravado and bragging" about how 
Kazakhstan is well-prepared to weather the crisis, while calling at 
the same time for strengthened efforts to address the economic 
downturn.  "Tazhargan" also criticized the authorities for 
distancing themselves from the causes of the crisis and instead 
blaming the crisis on "outside sources." 
 
BARBS CONTINUE OVER ALLEGED SUPPRESSION OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA 
 
4. (U) In the continuing debate over issues of media freedom, 
newspapers and blog sites reacted to the appellate court ruling and 
30 million tenge (approximately $200,000) fine against the 
opposition "Tazhargan" newspaper and covered an Almaty demonstration 
to protest the decision.  The opposition website 
"www.respublika-kz.info" published comments from Adil Soz NGO head 
Tamara Kaleyeva and Union of Journalists chairman Seitkazy Matayev 
expressing deep concern over the fate of the mass media and the 
"chilling effect" generated by the "Tazhargan" court decision.  The 
independent newspaper "Vremya" covered a protest of the decision 
during which Kaleyeva asserted that there have been many similar 
court rulings and "the time has come to attract public attention to 
the terrible treatment of the mass media in Kazakhstan."  "Vremya" 
also cited head of the Kazakhstan Bureau for Human Rights, Yevgeniy 
Zhovtis, as saying that the status of media freedom is "very bad" 
and that freedom of speech has not yet become an "incontestable 
value" for the public. 
 
CRITICISMS OF U.S. UNDERSTANDING OF AFGHANISTAN 
 
5. (U) "Delovaya Nedelya" ran an editorial piece criticizing the 
Pentagon for thinking that deploying additional U.S. troops to 
Afghanistan can curb the Taliban, including those coming from the 
Pakistani border region, and believing that "a government loyal to 
the United States can be brought to power."  The ar
ticle asserted 
 
ASTANA 00000449  002 OF 002 
 
 
that "the people promoting these ideas to the (U.S.) President have 
no idea what is actually going on in Afghanistan."  It described the 
challenge of securing a territory larger than Iraq with fewer 
troops, and noted that the United States will "rely" on Central Asia 
to help support the Afghanistan operation.  "Delovaya Nedelya" 
reiterated speculation heard previously in the Kazakhstani press 
that Tajikistan is the most likely candidate to provide material 
support to U.S. troops, and reiterated that the situation in 
Afghanistan offers a "high stakes" opportunity for Central Asia to 
"take part in a complex but potentially beneficial game." 
 
HOAGLAND

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