09ASTANA620, KAZAKHSTAN: LIFE ON THE STEPPE, APRIL 4-10

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA620 2009-04-10 12:49 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana

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RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0620/01 1001249
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101249Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5141
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1475
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0853
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1556
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0540
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 1038
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0952
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 1407

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000620 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD, DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ECON SOCI SENV KCRM KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  LIFE ON THE STEPPE, APRIL 4-10 
 
ASTANA 00000620  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1.  This is another in a series of weekly cables drawn mostly from 
public media, as well as think-tank, NGO, and opposition web-sites, 
selected to show the diversity of life in Kazakhstan, and 
information about it available to citizens of Kazakhstan.  Our goal 
is to choose what might interest and be of use to various end-users 
in Washington and -- especially -- to provide a more complex view 
from the other side of the world, illustrating the vitality (and 
sometimes the quirkiness) of discourse available to citizens of 
Kazakhstan. 
 
PRESIDENT CALLS FOR HUMMER BAN IN DOWNTOWN ALMATY 
 
2. During an official visit to Almaty this week, President 
Nazarbayev called for better environmental preservation, singling 
out the city's cars as the main cause of Almaty's notorious 
pollution.  According to the Almaty Akimat (mayor's office), there 
are approximately 1.5 million cars registered in the city and an 
additional 200,000 drive into city every day from its outskirts. 
Cars are reportedly responsible for 80 percent of Almaty's air 
pollution.  One reason is that many cars on Almaty streets are old 
ones imported from Europe which do not comply with strict, existing 
European environmental standards.  "Around the world, cities like 
Almaty do not permit the importation of old cars.  (Car importers) 
keep bringing into the country cars which would have long been 
considered junk in Europe," Nazarbayev said. 
 
3. In his critical remarks, Nazarbayev also did not spare the very 
rich -- those who actually can afford to buy new, fuel-efficient 
cars.  "People (elsewhere) are switching to smaller cars to consume 
less fuel... whereas our people continue to drive around in huge 
cars, in Hummers. They've just lost all shame. We must stop this," 
he said.  Nazarbayev called on the Almaty Akim (Mayor) Akhmetzhan 
Yesimov to ban Hummers from driving into the city center. 
Nazarbayev also did not appreciate lack of cleanliness of Almaty's 
vehicles.  "As I drove around the city, I saw that every other car 
was dirty.  Cars are supposed to be clean; something needs to be 
done about it," Nazarbayev remarked. 
 
AND NOW LET'S DRINK TO EDUCATION 
 
4. The Procurator's Office of the Zhezkazgan region has shed light 
on the dire state of education in central Kazakhstan.  In a probe of 
local schools, procurators found that a number of teachers were 
frequent guests at local detoxification centers and often conducted 
classes under the influence of alcohol.  These infractions were 
among the many that officials uncovered in several schools in 
Zhezkazgan.  Teachers falsified records about student performance 
and attendance, schools frequently violated health standards, and a 
corrupt school board promoted teachers based on family ties rather 
than qualifications.  "When the teachers themselves frequently end 
up in detoxification centers and violate the law inside classrooms, 
they set quite an example," said Aitkazy Nurseitov, Zhezkazgan's 
deputy procurator. 
 
LET'S TAKE THE ARMORED CAR TO COURT 
 
5. The Turksib Afghanistan War Veterans Association was founded in 
1987, and that same year the government gave it a plot of land which 
they used to build a community center.  "However, several years ago 
the former chairman of our association fraudulently and with the 
help of local officials sold the property which belonged to all of 
us," said Oran Balmoidanov, one of the veterans.  The veterans 
turned to the courts to reclaim their property. 
 
6. Several years later, however, amid accusations that the court is 
intentionally dragging its feet, the "Afghans" are growing 
increasingly restless.  In March, when the court once again 
postponed the trial of their case, the veterans organized an 
impromptu demonstration holding up signs calling on the population 
to fight corruption.  At the most recent court hearing, which was 
scheduled for April 7, the veterans prepared another publicity stunt 
to bring attention to their case.  This time, they decided to drive 
to court in a retired military armored vehicle owned by one of the 
veterans, in order to remind the public of their service in 
Afghanistan and their sacrifices.  Needless to say, the police 
stopped the armored car before it reached the court, ostensibly 
because a military vehicle is not allowed to use public roads.  The 
veterans, who claimed that the armored car is dutifully registered 
 
ASTANA 00000
620  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
with the police and has a valid license plate, reached the court 
later using more conventional means.  Once again, however, to their 
disappointment but to no surprise, they found that their case had 
been postponed. 
 
OFFICIALS' WIVES EMBEZZLE FUNDS, STAGE ROBBERY TO COVER TRACKS 
 
7. Neither a judge at the Bayanaul district court nor an official at 
the local Procurator's Office official had any idea how their wives 
came into possession of several diamond rings, 2.5 million tenge 
(approximately $16,700) in cash and a new Lexus SUV (owned by the 
judge's wife).  If they did, it would likely have had severe 
professional repercussions.  As it turned out, their wives, 
employees of a local branch of Alliance Bank, embezzled millions of 
tenge from the bank and staged a robbery to cover up their tracks. 
Police responded to an alleged robbery at the bank in February, when 
several employees claimed that two masked criminals stole 13 million 
tenge.  However, a subsequent investigation showed the robbery was, 
in fact, fictional, and three of the bank's employees --"witnesses" 
to the "robbery" -- admitted staging it.  For almost a year, the 
three had forged documents to withdraw money from a client's 
account.  Subsequently, they staged the robbery to prevent a planned 
audit from finding out about their side activity.  The three 
criminals, including the wives of the judge and the Procurator's 
Office official, were arrested.  The trusting husbands, apparently 
ignorant of their wives illegal schemes, continue to uphold law and 
order in Bayanaul. 
 
HOAGLAND

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