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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05ALMATY3450
2005-10-03 14:54:00
CONFIDENTIAL
US Office Almaty
Cable title:  

KAZAKHSTAN: DEMOCRACY PROMOTION STRATEGY

Tags:   PHUM  PREL  KDEM  KZ  POLITICAL 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L  ALMATY 003450 

SIPDIS


DEPARTMENT FOR G, DRL, S/P, AND EUR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/03/2015
TAGS: PHUM PREL KDEM KZ POLITICAL
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: DEMOCRACY PROMOTION STRATEGY

REF: A. A. STATE 169627

B. B. ALMATY 3301

C. C. ALMATY 3245

Classified By: Qb. John Ordway, reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).



1. (C) SumQry: Post welcomes the selection of Kazakhstan as
an EUR focus country for the democracy promotion strategy
(Ref A). Kazakhstan is preparing for what could be its first
truly contested presidential race this December, against the
backdrop of serious GOK concerns about U.S. intentions and
the potential for another "color revolution." At the same
time, President Nazarbayev has publicly committed himself to
pursuing further democratic reform -- albeit at a rather
unambitious pace -- following the election (Ref B). Post
engages in regular, high-level dialogue with the GOK about
the need to complement sound economic policies with real
political reform. This dialogue intensified after the May
decision not to certify Kazakhstan for Foreign Operations
Apropriations Act (FOAA) spending for the first time. The
increased high-level USG engagement with the GOK and program
initiatives made possible by the democracy promotion strategy
will permit us to capitalize on Kazakhstan's present economic
strength and stability and encourage bold progress. In the
near term, post will focus on presidential elections, better
conditions for NGOs and journalists, increased transparency
of the judicial system, and expanded civic education. End
summary.



2. (C) Post's Democracy Working Group convened on September
22 to outline a democracy promotion strategy for Kazakhstan.
Information below is keyed to para. 6 of reftel.



A. Deficit areas: The main areas of democratic deficit in
Kazakhstan are well documented, and the GOK is doing little
to address them. They include insufficient political
representation due to falsified national elections and the
limited powers of the parliament; government pressure on the
independent media; a judiciary that lacks independence;
restrictions on freedom of assembly; and pervasive corruption
which corrodes democratic values at all levels of society.
Appointment of regional and local executives and
institutionally weak elected councils are also a serious
problem in the Kazakhstani context. With the proper USG
coordination and resources, it is possible to achieve
tangible results in certain of these areas over the next six
to eight months. Post intends to focus its efforts on
support for presidential elections which are substantially
better than previous elections and which come significantly
closer to meeting international standards, blocking new
damaging legislation such as the NGO laws, increasing public
dialogue about the merits of direct election of regional and
local leaders, decreasing the pressure on independent media,
increasing the professionalism of Kazakhstani journalists to
serve as more effective advocates of the public good,

promoting incremental improvement in the transparency of the
judiciary, and institutionalizing civic education in schools.



B. Strategy: The period up until December 4 presidential
elections will be politically sensitive, with the GOK on
particular alert for any U.S. initiatives that appear
designed to "mobilize" the Kazakhstani public. We expect our
assistance partners to come under particularly close scrutiny
in the coming months. However, President Nazarbayev's
repeated public commitment to ensure free and fair elections
has created a relatively favorable environment for assistance
efforts aimed directly at the electoral process. Once the
elections are over and, presumably, President Nazarbayev is
reelected to his final term, we expect much greater openness
on the part of the GOK to other U.S. proposals. Nazarbayev
has already publicly committed himself to further democratic
reform, he knows that progress is necessary for Kazakhstan to
receive support for its OSCE CiO bid, and most importantly,
he will be concerned with his legacy and with ensuring a
smooth exit from the political scene. For that reason, post
envisions a two-stage strategy: intense diplomatic and
programmatic focus on presidential elections until December,
followed by a broadened agenda of proposals to address other
areas of democratic deficit.



C. Needs: In cooperation with EUR/ACE, post has already
designed a strategy to support a free and fair presidential
election process and identified the necessary funding ($1.3
million) to support international and domestic election
observation, voter education, media activities, and exit
polling. The engagement of the Carter Foundation (Ref C) in
election monitoring would be a welcome addition to this
effort. Upcoming high-level visits, including by EUR A/S
Fried, U/S Joseph, and SecDef, will provide valuable
opportunities to reinforce the USG's message on elections and

to publicly highlight President Nazarbayev's own commitments
to good elections and further reform.



C. Needs, continued: For the second phase of the strategy,
post proposes the following initiatives to address the most
pressing areas of democratic deficit in concrete and
achievable ways:

-- A coordinated diplomatic effort to hold President
Nazarbayev to his public promise to establish and chair a
Democratization Commission, which will propose substantial
reforms. As part of this, we should seek a commitment that
the NGO legislation ruled unconstitutional in August will not
be resurrected. If December presidential elections meet our
expectations, this effort could be capped by a Nazarbayev
visit to Washington.

-- Establishment of a more robust media training program for
local independent print journalists. The lack of training
and professionalism among Kazakhstani journalists renders
them particularly vulnerable to the GOK's attempts to
pressure them and encourage self-censorship. The Public
Affairs Section would work with a local organization such as
MediaNet to establish an intensive, long-term (i.e. nine
month) program for journalists. Estimated annual cost for a
program to train 20 journalists would be $545,000 the first
year and $522,000 thereafter. Post would seek to identify
funding partners.

-- Successful launch of a satellite broadcast program to
increase the availability of independent media programming.
This three-year, $1.6 million regional project is already
underway, with broadcasts expected to begin in January.
Through the project, the Internews Network will support the
satellite transmission throughout Central Asia of news and
informational television programs from a transmission base in
Almaty

-- Engagement with the GOK to amend the civil code to
prohibit state organs from filing civil code "honor and
dignity" lawsuits, and to protect journalists against
criminal libel lawsuits. The Embassy will also continue to
provide technical advice on potential new media legislation
through Internews.

-- Expansion of USAID's pilot court recording project
nationwide. As the Kazakhstani judicial system currently has
no mechanism to provide transcripts of court proceedings,
this program provides a greatly increased level of
transparency for all parties. The Ministry of Justice has
budgeted some funds to support expansion of the program in


2006. Post estimates that an additional $200,000 will be
needed to provide the necessary training and technical
assistance in these sites. This would be complemented longer
term by curriculum reform in the Judicial Academy to
emphasize ethics, accountability, and transparency.

-- High-level engagement with the Ministry of Education and
Science to convince the GOK to adopt USAID's highly
successful civic education program for use nationwide as an
established part of the national curriculum.

-- Restoring the number of IVLP exchange program slots to the
previous FSA-funded level of 80 per year; there are now 38.
Post would use the additional exchange slots to significantly
increase the number of programs for judges and local leaders
in order to increase their exposure to the U.S. judiciary and
local self-government.



D. Impediments: Assuming resources are available to
implement the programmatic suggestions, the main impediments
to these initiatives will be persistent distrust of U.S.
motivations by many elites, hesitancy to embrace real change,
and the GOK's inability to reach interagency decisions in a
reasonable timeframe. While post expects the level of GOK
and public concern about alleged U.S. efforts to provoke a
"color revolution" to drop considerably after the
presidential elections, residual doubts and distrust will
remain. The likely appearance of out of context excerpts
from the recent USAID publication "Democracy Rising" in the
Kazakhstani press is also likely to exacerbate the situation.



E. Allies/opponents: As with all human rights issues in
Kazakhstan, the EU (particularly under the current UK
presidency) will likely be our strongest and most vocal ally
in these efforts. The UK and Dutch embassies and the
European Commission representation are generally the most
outspoken here on the ground. Although less vocal in public,
the OSCE Center is almost always willing to work with us
behind the scenes to influence the GOK on human rights

issues. We would hope that ODIHR, which is already fully
engaged in preparations for the presidential elections, would
be willing to support a coordinated push for further reforms
in the new year. Russia, both bilaterally and through the
CIS and SCO, is likely to be vociferously critical and to do
its best to plant doubts in the mind of the GO abouT U/S.Q
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the campaign and the announcement of results; and national
security amendments which imposed limits on political
activity, the media, and religious groups. Kazakhstan's
fervent desire to chair the OSCE in 2009 is the one area of
international engagement which can provide a useful lever to
push for real reforms. Once a decision is reached, either
positive or negative, that leverage will be lost. Kazakhstan
seeks the CiO not as a mechanism to force needed domestic
reforms, but rather as a way to increase its own
international standing. FM Tokayev has spoken publicly of
the GOK's desire to place more emphasis on the security
"basket" and less on human dimension issues if the GOK
obtains the chairmanship.



G. Consequences: Kazakhstan is at a crossroads, clearly
vacillating between an impulse to restrain civil society and
the growing realization that political reform is the only
sure path to continued prosperity and stability. There are
advocates for both of these paths. Post believes that a
properly calibrated and coordinated USG approach to a
democracy strategy for Kazakhstan could result in tangible
progress within the next six to eight months, thereby
insuring that the GOK takes the fundamental decision for
reform. The possible consequences of an unsuccessful
strategy, i.e. one that was perceived as too heavy-handed or
didactic, could include accusations by the GOK that the U.S.
is trying to undermine regional stability and the U.S.-KZ
"strategic partnership" in order to increase its control over
the region and its natural resources.



3. (SBU) Post looks forward to Department feedback on the
strategy and specific proposals.
ORDWAY


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