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Cablegate: Kazakhstan: Weekly Spot-Report Digest, February 22-26

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INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 2540
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
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RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 1931
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
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RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2727
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3017
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2082
RUEHAST/AMCONSUL ALMATY 2353

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000271

SIPDIS
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STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL, ISN, EEB, INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ECON EPET ENRG SOCI SENV KNNP KCOR
KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: WEEKLY SPOT-REPORT DIGEST, FEBRUARY 22-26

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1. (SBU) This weekly cable disseminates spot reports based on
Embassy conversations with contacts as well as reports from the
Kazakhstani media. Our goal is to draw attention to information
that might not merit a full cable report or that will be developed
later.

MAJOR POLICY DEVELOPMENTS: HOLBROOKE VISITS ASTANA

2. (U) February 23. Local media reported that U.S. Special
Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke
visited Astana where he met with Kazakhstan's State
Secretary/Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev. During their meeting,
the officials discussed cooperation between Kazakhstan and the
United States, including issues related to bilateral and
multilateral collaboration. Saudabayev summarized Astana's
priorities as OSCE Chairman, including the stabilization process in
Afghanistan, which is one of its key priorities. The two sides also
discussed the agenda for the upcoming meeting of President Nursultan
Nazarbayev with President Barack Obama during Nazarbayev's visit to
the Global Nuclear Security Summit. (COMMENT: The press reports
that seem to confirm an Obama-Nazarbayev meeting are premature. END
COMMENT).

POLOFF VISITS HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST ZHOVTIS

3. (SBU) February 24. Poloff travelled to a penal colony outside
Ust-Kamenogorsk to visit imprisoned human rights activist Evgeniy
Zhovtis. According to Poloff, he is in relatively good spirits and
seems to be on good terms with the prison administration. Zhovtis
said that he sees four possible resolutions to his case: 1) the
Supreme Court annuls the lower court's sentence without overturning
its guilty verdict; 2) he is granted amnesty in March, May, or July;
3) he is released before his four-year sentence expires (NOTE:
Zhovtis is not technically eligible for parole until early 2011,
when Kazakhstan will no longer be OSCE Chairman-in-Office. END
NOTE); 4) he requests a Presidential pardon. Zhovtis told Poloff
that if the first three legal options fail and he is forced to
request a pardon as a last resort, he will leave Kazakhstan for good
upon his release. Zhovtis also said that he is eager for outside
news and welcomes outside visitors. The two-hour conversation was
carefully transcribed by two prison officials who were present at
the meeting.

MINISTER OF JUSTICE DISCUSSES THE ZHOVTIS CASE

4. (SBU) February 25. The Ambassador met with Minister of Justice
Rashid Tusupbekov to discuss the possibility of an amnesty for
crimes of lesser gravity (which would include Zhovtis). Tusupbekov
said he submitted his recommendation supporting an amnesty to
Parliament and the Presidential Administration for consideration.
The Ambassador thanked Tusupbekov for allowing PolOff to visit
Zhovtis, and requested the Minister's support for the Embassy's
request to allow two Helsinki Commission staffers to visit Zhovtis
as well. Tusupbekov also discussed Kazakhstan's legal reform
strategy and ongoing bilateral cooperation on judicial matters.
Tusupbekov expressed appreciation for U.S. government assistance,
including the Judicial Education Program, and support of Kazakhstani
efforts on counter-narcotics and counter-trafficking in persons.
While underscoring his Ministry's commitment to continue to work
closely with the United States, Tusupbekov also asserted that if a
meeting between Presidents Obama and Nazarbayev takes place in
April, it could "open up new opportunities for further
cooperation."

MAJOR MILESTONES: BN-350 DECOMMISSIONING PROGRAM 1/12TH COMPLETE

5. (SBU) February 19. The deputy director of the National Nuclear

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Center of Kazakhstan told Department of Energy office director that
the spent fuel shipment portion of the BN-350 decommissioning
program "is now 1/12th complete." Eleven shipments remain, each
with five casks, all which will be stored at the Baikal-1 storage
facility before the end of 2010. Moreover, the 30th of 60 spent
fuel casks was staged at the rail head in Aktau, marking the halfway
point of the spent fuel preparation activities. Both Baikal-1
storage and MAEK-Kazatomprom BN-350 reactor personnel plan held
celebrations marking the event.

DUPONT'S EXPANSION IN KAZAKHSTAN

6. (SBU) February 22. Foreign Commercial Service (FCS)
representatives met with Dupont to discuss possible areas of
business expansion including the food processing and packaging, and
construction sectors. Dupont reports increased sales during the
economic crisis of their safety products, primarily purchased by the
extractive sectors. Finally, as a result of their meeting requested
by the Ministry of Trade at the November 2009 Investment Forum in
New York, Dupont and the government are in talks regarding ways to
increase presence of the company's Pioneer line of plant genetics.

MFA SIMPLIFIES VISA REGIME

7. (U) February 22. The Kazakhstan TV Channel and Commercial
Television of Kazakhstan (KTK) reported that Kazakhstan's MFA has
promised to simplify its visa procedure starting March 1. Foreign
diplomats and employees of international organizations will not need
visas, just official MFA accreditation. A new type of visa, called
an "exit visa," will apply to foreigners who have lived in
Kazakhstan for a long time and decide to go back home, or have lost
their passports while in Kazakhstan, or have been deported. Foreign
missionaries arriving in Kazakhstan to promote religious ideas will
have to apply a special "missionary visa."

FROM THE WIRES IN KAZAKHSTAN: A "RESPUBLIKA" BY ANY OTHER NAME

8. (U) February 23. The editors of the opposition newspaper
"Respublika" and related newspapers ("Golos Respubliki," "Respublica
Business Review") held a press conference on February 22 to protest
against what they see as pressure from the authorities on
independent newspaper printers to stop printing or selling
"Respublika" and any of its related papers. The editors described
several instances when independent printers declined to print their
newspapers. For example, the director of a printing house in
Karaganda contracted by "Respublika" was summoned to the mayor's
office, shortly after which he declined to print the newspaper.
According to the editors, these incidents have intensified after a
February 18 ruling by the Medeu Judicial Administration, which
ordered all printing houses and other organizations to transfer any
payments received from "Respublika" to a depository account of the
Judicial Administration, to be turned over to BTA Bank as
compensation for the newspaper's debt.

KAZAKHSTAN'S PLANS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT REFORM

9. (SBU) On February 23, LegAtt and INL met with Alik Shpekbayev,
Head of the Law Enforcement Section of the Presidential
Administration, to discuss the government's plans for law
enforcement reform. Shpekbayev said the Presidential Administration
is collecting, analyzing, and summarizing information on law
enforcement systems in neighboring countries, especially Georgia,
Armenia, the Baltic States, and the Russian Federation. He asked
for information about the law enforcement structure in the United
States at all levels, including the jurisdiction of each agency and
interaction and cooperation between agencies; the prison system,
including alternative sentencing and how the United States manages a

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large prison population; basic and in-service training; crime
statistics and how databases are maintained; performance criteria;
and standards for determining the number of officers needed by a
specific agency in a specific area. When asked about the time frame
for developing and implementing a reform plan, Shpekbayev said, "the
sooner, the better." INL said it would provide materials on the law
enforcement structure in the United States and consider the
possibility of study visits and IVLPs to the United States. The
Legal Attache offered to provide information on crime statistics and
joint task forces in the United States and offered to facilitate
study visits.

FORMER DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENSE SENTENCED

10. (U) February 25. Former Deputy Minister of Defense Kazhimurat
Mayermanov was sentenced to 11 years in prison after being convicted
of corruption, abuse of office, and bribe-taking, according to the
Military Prosecutor's Office. The court also convicted Israeli
citizen Boris Sheinkman of fraud and bribery, sentenced him to 11
years in prison, and confiscated his property. In addition, the
former acting commander of Kazakhstan's Rocket and Artillery Forces
received a seven-year prison sentence on charges of abuse of office
and was stripped of his military rank of colonel. Mayermanov, who
oversaw the Defense Ministry's research and development projects,
was arrested on April 10, 2009, for allegedly signing unauthorized
contracts worth $82 million with Sheinkman, who represented Israeli
defense firms IMI and Soltam Systems. Journalists were not allowed
to attend Mayermanov's trial. Partly as a result of this case, the
Ministry of Defense has expressed a preference for using Foreign
Military Sales channels rather than direct dialogue with
Western/U.S. companies to procure systems such as C-130 aircraft.

HOAGLAND

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