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2005-05-27 07:19:00
US Office Almaty
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L  ALMATY 001993 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/26/2015

Classified By: CDA Mark Asquino, reasons
1. 4 (B) and (D).

1. (C) Summary: Leading Kazakhstani human rights activist
Yevgeniy Zhovtis told Amb. Minikes on April 27 that the
deteriorating political and human rights situation in the
country was the direct result of the government's paranoia
about events in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. He
described an inner circle around President Nazarbayev divided
between those who favored the use of repressive measures to
squelch all opposition, and those who believe that dialogue
and further democratization are necessary. Zhovtis called
on the OSCE to stand up for oppressed political figures and
parties, and to work with the GOK to create a better
legislative framework. He also called on the West to push
the GOK to engage in dialogue with the opposition and the
public. Zhovtis stated that Nazarbayev does not trust anyone
enough to hand over power, and is in search of guarantees of
protection for himself and his family after he leaves office.
The president is reportedly surrounded by hardliners who
control the flow of information in order to capitalize on
these fears. Zhovtis observed that the CiO bid might be one
factor in the discussion of Nazarbayev's future. Amb.
Minikes described the organizational challenges required of
the CiO and the potential for Congressional scrutiny. He
noted that if there is not concrete discussion of
Kazakhstan's bid soon, it will be "approved" by default next
year. End summary.

2. (SBU) Ambassador to the OSCE Stephan Minikes met with
Yevgeniy Zhovtis, head of the Kazakhstan International Bureau
on Human Rights (KIBHR), on April 27 in Almaty during a visit
to discuss the GOK's OSCE CiO bid. The Ambassador and POEC
chief (notetaker) also participated.


Deteriorating Situation


3. (C) Zhovtis, whose organization is one of 33 U.S.
assistance partners currently under investigation by the GOK,
indicated that his own situation and the general situation
with respect for human rights were deteriorating. The
financial police had opened a tax investigation of KIBHR that
worried him. He saw the GOK's actions against NGOs, parties,
and independent media as "paranoid behavior" prompted by
events in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. Zhovtis said
that the Procuracy and the Committee on National Security
(KNB) were clearly taking steps to try to avert a "velvet
revolution," but there was no indication that such a
revolution was possible. The GOK's actions were instead
radicalizing people who had been moderates.

4. (C) Zhovtis emphasized that this was not a unified GOK

policy. There were some high-ranking officials who took a
"softer" position and saw the long-term need to move toward
democracy and dialogue. He mentioned chairman of the
Security Council Bulat Utemuratov, deputy head of the
Presidential Administration Marat Tazhin, and presidential
advisor Karim Masimov as belonging to this camp. Deputy PA
head Baurzhan Mukhamedzhanov is seen as a hard-liner; Zhovtis
believes that the KNB and the Procuracy likely report
directly to him, as PA head Adilbek Dzhaksybekov is "weak."
Mukhamedzhanov and other hard-liners have convinced
Nazarbayev that entering into dialogue with the opposition
would be seen as a sign of weakness and/or fear by both
supporters and the opposition. The Ambassador observed that
in reality, the GOK's efforts to crack down on the opposition
were making it look weak. (Note: Unlike some of his
colleagues in the human rights community, Zhovtis maintains
close personal ties with well-connected businessmen and
others who provide insight into the GOK. End note.)

5. (C) Asked what the OSCE should be doing to address the
situation, Zhovtis suggested that it focus on two areas:
moral and diplomatic support for opposition figures, groups,
and parties that were bound to come under increasing GOK
pressure, and assistance with the creation of a legislative
framework that complies with international standards.
Recalling the arrests of Ablyazov, Zhakiyanov, and Duvanov in
2001-2002, Zhovtis predicted that the GOK might well take
similar action against such figures as True Ak Zhol co-chairs
Bulat Abilov and Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly. Zhovtis added that
there was a third need, perhaps more appropriately pursued
bilaterally than through the OSCE: to push the GOK to
establish dialogue with the opposition and the people.
Zhovtis emphasized that it was crucial to have dialogue now,
with "people who are reasonable, not calling for violence."

6. (C) Zhovtis noted that the opposition was also to blame

for the lack of dialogue. Many saw the National Commission
on Democratization and Civil Society (NKVD) as a sham,
intended only to prolong Nazarbayev's grip on power. Others
placed unreasonable pre-conditions on dialogue. The
Ambassador noted that the falsification of election results,
which caused the exclusion of the opposition from the
Mazhilis, had foreclosed one potentially useful forum for the
exchange of ideas. Zhovtis said the GOK has shown a desire
for dialogue on some issues. Representatives of the
Constitutional Council and the Presidential Administration
(deputy head Mukhamedzhanov) had asked him to organize a May
3-4 conference on constitutional reform. The GOK officials
said that they would arrange for all key organizations, such
as the Procuracy and the Supreme Court, to participate; they
wanted Zhovtis to get For a Just Kazakhstan (FJK) leader
Zharmakhan Tuyakbay and others from the opposition to take
part. Zhovtis reported that FJK had so far refused to commit
on the grounds that pro-GOK experts would outnumber them;
Zhovtis said he had argued to them that this was a good
opportunity to get their message on constitutional reform to
the public, as the national channels will cover the event.


Nazarbayev's Approach


7. (C) Zhovtis described Nazarbayev as a life-long Communist
Party apparatchik who knows how to create and control an
organization in such as way as to prevent any dissent or
opposition. Nazarbayev does not like to be challenged or be
surrounded by people with political weight. Former Prime
Minister Kazhegeldin, now exiled to London, is the best
example of this. The longer Nazarbayev stays in power,
Zhovtis added, the less trusting and less confident in his
personal safety he becomes. Events in Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine,
and Georgia had only accelerated this process. Zhovtis
emphasized that Nazarbayev trusts no one, not even his own
family. In many ways, he has a harder time controlling his
family than others in the inner circle. Son-in-law Rakhat
Aliyev is a prime example; the decision to exile him to
Vienna, rather than to take more drastic action against him,
was seen by many as a sign of Nazarbayev's weakness.

8. (C) The Nazarbayev family, according to Zhovtis, has done
"everything the Akayevs did in Kyrgyzstan, but on a much
bigger scale." Seeing how authorities in Georgia and Ukraine
are going after the assets of former leaders had made
Nazarbayev extremely conscious of the need to obtain strong
guarantees for himself and his family. Zhovtis observed that
as the inevitable loss of power gets nearer, Nazarbayev is
guided more and more by this fear. The Ambassador noted that
there is no one in Kazakhstan today to whom Nazarbayev would
be willing to turn over power. Zhovtis added that Nazarbayev
would never cut a deal with the opposition to step down
unless he had a firm guarantee from the west.

9. (C) Nazarbayev has less control than before, according to
Zhovtis. His inner circle controls and interprets the flow
of information reaching the president. Utemuratov used to be
one of his closest advisors, but now the representatives of
the security forces have the upper hand. Zhovtis has the
impression that this group of fewer than ten people is using
the specter of instability to scare Nazarbayev into taking
repressive actions. Zhovtis added that while Nazarbayev used
to govern in a very authoritative manner, calling his cabinet
together and issuing firm directives, his GOK contacts have
told him that more recently Nazarbayev has taken the approach
of asking for, rather than demanding, support.

10. (C) That said, Zhovtis predicted that Nazarbayev would
win reelection in a completely free and fair presidential
election, thanks to his extremely strong support in rural
areas and among the Russian-speaking population. He would
not win with the wide margin he has in the past, but he would
undoubtedly win. Zhovtis stressed that the question was
ultimately hypothetical since Nazarbayev had no desire to
create a political system where all parties could compete.


Kazakhstan's CiO Bid


11. (C) Commenting on Kazakhstan's desire to chair the OSCE
in 2009, Zhovtis said he believed someone else must have
suggested it to President Nazarbayev. He had eventually been
persuaded to support the idea out of a desire to be part of
the Western "club" and to play a bigger role on the world
stage. Because he can't count on support from the West,
however, Nazarbayev must also maintain close relations with

Putin; that was why he agreed to sign the Moscow and Astana
declarations on the OSCE.

12. (C) Zhovtis was unable to predict how Nazarbayev would
react if Kazakhstan did not obtain the 2009 chairmanship. He
explained that since Nazarbayev sees every issue through the
prism of succession and the need for personal guarantees, it
is necessary to weigh his fear of the future against his
desire to be a member of the Western "club." He observed
that the CiO might be one factor in the negotiations about
Nazarbayev's future. The Ambassador commented that if that
were the case, it might be useful for Kazakhstan to postpone
the bid so that the decision would come at a time when
Nazarbayev was actually willing to discuss transition. It is
clear that he intends to run for reelection once again,
whether it is in December 2005 or December 2006; on the
current timeline, the OSCE decision would occur before
Nazarbayev was willing to discuss his future.

13. (C) Amb. Minikes explained to Zhovtis that while the
formal decision on the 2009 CiO would be taken at the
December 2006 ministerial, in reality the decision-making
process needs to happen now. If there is no discussion of
Kazakhstan's bid at a point when it is still possible to find
another candidate and allow for a graceful postponement of
the candidacy, then the candidacy will be approved by
default. Some in the OSCE had expressed reluctance to
embarrass the GOK by opposing the bid. Amb. Minikes noted
that beyond the question of the suitability of any country to
chair the OSCE, there is also the question of organizational
capacity. The CiO must have a qualified team of at least 20
people in Vienna, with a similar sized team backing them up
in the capital. The Foreign Minister must be willing to
spend at least half of his or her time on the road doing OSCE
business. CiO activities can cost $8 to $12 million for the
year. The Helsinki Commission often calls hearings to
discuss CiO candidacies, which can result in uncomfortable

14. (C) Zhovtis noted that he is in frequent contact with EU
embassies in Almaty on this and other issues; while the
British appear to have a clear position of not supporting the
bid, the rest are maneuvering. He commented that the
European Parliament has recently become more outspoken in its
criticism of the Kazakhstani government, which could have an
impact on CiO deliberations.