wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
2005-10-31 21:19:00
US Office Almaty
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS  ALMATY 003919 



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: Almaty 3861

1. (U) This is the sixth in a series of weekly election
roundups, in advance of Kazakhstan's December 4, 2005
presidential elections. Items were drawn primarily from
the local press and media.

Commitments to Free and Fair Elections


2. (SBU) OSCE Ambassador Julie Finley raised the
importance of free and fair presidential elections during
her October 27 visit to Astana. Presidential
Administration Deputy Tazhin maintained that all
candidates will have equal access to the media, including
the two government-controlled channels. Central Elections
Commission Chairman Zhumabekov pointed out that the CEC
will monitor media access to ensure a level-playing field.
Security Council Chairman Utemuratov said that President
Nazarbayev had authorized him to meet with local officials
to deliver the message that any falsification of election
results would result in severe administrative punishment.
Opposition leaders have been invited to consult
independently with the akims. Senate Chairman Abykayev
echoed that word had gone out to the akims to steer clear
of "over-fulfilling" the plan, i.e. pumping up the
President's vote count. Foreign Minister Tokayev noted
that Kazakhstan was taking the elections "very seriously"
and had taken a "huge" step forward since the 1999
presidential elections. Unlike the previous election,
President Nazarbayev faced credible opposition candidates.

Registration is Over


3. (U) Registration of candidates for the presidency ended
on October 24. On October 25, the Central Election
Commission (CEC) announced that the registered candidates
were Nursultan Nazarbayev, Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, Alikhan
Baimenov, Yerasyl Abylkasymov and Mels Yeleusizov. Eight
other contenders failed to collect the required number of
signatures in their support.

4. (U) On October 26, the CEC approved the text of the
ballot. The names of candidates will be listed in
alphabetical order.

5. (U) The CEC has reported numerous violations of
electoral legislation during the signature collection
campaign: signatures were collected under the pretext of
conducting a census and checking voters' lists; signature
forms lacked passport data; some signatures were not
authentic; some signatures were collected from persons
under the legal age; some signatures belonged to the dead
or people who emigrated. According to the CEC, every
candidate submitted a certain number of signatures that
were found invalid:
Nazarbayev: 641, or 0.38%;
Tuyakbay: 16,236, or 13.55%;
Baimenov: 23,486, or 18.36%;

Abylkasymov: 10,925, or 10.21%;
Yeleusizov: 2,442, or 2.55%.

6. (U) As of October 24, the CEC had accredited 92
observers from foreign states and international
organizations, including 43 from OSCE/ODIHR, 12 from IFES,
and 37 from the CIS.

Election Campaign Begins


7. (U) The election campaign officially began on October
25 and will last through December 2. President Nazarbayev
kicked off his campaign by opening 208 "Public Reception
Offices" in every oblast, city, and district of the
country. Citizens can visit the offices to register
complaints and requests; according to a Khabar report,
some of the first visitors to the Astana office requested
new apartments. Nazarbayev's campaign staff have also
organized a series of public events in Astana,
Semipalatinsk, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Taraz, and Shymkent. More
than 6000 people reportedly attended the Ust-Kamenogorsk
rally despite bad weather. Over 30,000 reportedly
attended the Shymkent rally, which had the theme "Only

Nazarbayev Can Make Kazakhstan a Leading Country of the
World." A concert was held in Almaty on October 26 with
the participation of various Kazakhstani celebrities.
Finally, the pro-government Kaisar youth movement
organized parade of over 40 cars and buses decorated with
Kazakhstani and campaign flags through the streets of
Almaty on October 25.

8. (U) On October 25, Zharmakhan Tuyakbay held an event in
Almaty to present his program of political, economic and
social reforms called "To Decent Life through Justice."
The main political points of the program include a drastic
cut of the president's powers (including the nomination of
the prime minister, the appointment of ministers upon
consent of Parliament, the right to object to legislative
acts of Parliament, the right to supervise international
policy, defense and security issues and the right to grant
citizenship and political asylum). Legislative power will
belong only to parliament. Akims of all levels will be
directly elected. In addition, Tuyakbay outlined his
future cabinet of ministers. He named Bulat Abilov, Oraz
Zhandosov, and Galymzhan Zhakiyanov as candidates for
Prime Minister. Communist leader Serikbolsyn Abdildin
will be responsible for constitutional reform; Altynbek
Sarsenbaiuly, national security; Tulegen Zhukeyev, foreign
policy; and first Kazakh cosmonaut Tokhtar Aubakirov,

9. (SBU) The press has commented on the fact that both
Nazarbayev and Tuyakbay have chosen yellow as their
symbol. Khabar TV ran a story claiming that the
opposition "stole" the yellow color from Nazarbayev.
Tuyakbay has said that "somebody else wants to hide
himself under yellow banners." In a meeting with USOSCE
Ambassador Finley, Baimenov noted half-jokingly that for
Kazakhstanis yellow represents China; his campaign colors
are red, white, and blue.

10. (U) Baimenov has so far had a lower profile than
Nazarbayev and Tuyakbay. At an October 26 press
conference in Almaty, the Association of Maslikhat
Deputies announced its decision to support Baimenov.
(Note: The majority of Maslikhat deputies are affiliated
with pro-presidential parties. End note.)

Nazarbayev Relatives Threaten Legal Action


11. (SBU) First daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva issued a
statement through Interfax on October 27 saying that
President Nazarbayev's close relatives will take legal
action against anyone who defames them in the press.
"We reserve the right to appeal to various courts,
including the international court, over each case of
slander. We reserve the right to use consultations and
other services of lawyers - both in our country and
abroad. We intend to use the right to defend our honor and
dignity as much as possible." The statement continues,
"We, the close relatives of the incumbent president,
Nursultan Nazarbayev, declare that we will resolutely and
firmly suppress all attempts to use our names,
circumstances of our private lives, business,
administrative and public activities to create and
circulate politically-tinted myths directly or indirectly
discrediting the head of state and damaging the country's
reputation." (Note: The reference to action outside of
Kazakhstan may be linked to questions posed by U.S.
reporters during Secretary Rice's October 12-13 visit to
Astana. End note.)

Tuyakbay's Campaign Literature Burns


12. (U) On October 26, a truck carrying 700,000 copies of
Tuyakbay's campaign literature burned on the way to Ust-
Kamenogorsk and Semipalatinsk, near Lake Sasykkol in
Almaty Oblast. The circumstances of the incident are
murky. According to one report, the driver claimed the
truck caught on fire suddenly. He tried but was unable to
extinguish the fire, which destroyed copies of Tuyakbay's
campaign program, his biography, and other booklets. The
Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that the truck

burned as the result of a traffic accident, however.

Opposition Activist Receives Jail Sentence


13. (U) On October 26, FJK activist Marzhan Aspandiyarova
was taken to Almaty Administrative Court and charged with
an administrative violation for participating in the
October 8 event for which Tulen Tokhtasynov and others
were also prosecuted (reftel). The court sentenced
Aspandiyarova to a 10 day jail term, despite the fact that
she was not an organizer of the event and the five other
opposition activists were only fined. On appeal, the City
Court of Almaty on October 27 reduced the sentence to 24
hours. Aspandiyarova, who had declared a hunger strike
and was being held in pre-trial detention with
prostitutes, was released the same day.

14. (SBU) According to opposition activist Petr Svoik, the
court dealt harshly with Aspandiyarova for two reasons.
First, she had annoyed Almaty City Akim Imangali
Tasmagambetov by creating a committee called "Let's
Protect our Home" to protest the demolition of homes in
Almaty. The committee unites homeless people and those
whose homes are slated for demolition according to the
Almaty redevelopment plan. "The authorities are evicting
people from their homes to build new restaurants and
casinos," Svoik said. (Note: After protesting at
Tasmagambetov's office two months ago, 15 committee
members, including Aspandiyarova, were arrested. The
following day Aspandiyarova was hospitalized with a
concussion allegedly resulting from police action. End
note.) Secondly, according to Svoik, Aspandiyarova is a
smart member of Tuyakbay's campaign team. She has been
traveling the country to train local coordinators. The
arrest could "knock her out" of the campaign. (Comment:
The protest movement has clearly touched a nerve.
Demonstrations about the expropriation and demolition of
private homes have brought small but vocally angry groups
of people into the streets of Almaty over the past few
months, a rare occurrence in Kazakhstan. End comment.)

Second Seizure of Svoboda Slova


15. (U) Early on October 26, the Medeu district police in
Almaty again seized the opposition "Svoboda Slova"
newspaper (reftel). The print run was 30,000 copies this
time. Later the same morning, however, a representative
of the district police visited the offices of FJK and
announced that the seizure had been a mistake. The
representative apologized for the seizure and asked the
newspaper editor to retrieve the print run from the
district police office.

16. (U) Gulzhan Yergaliyeva, the editor-in-chief of
Svoboda Slova, speculated publicly that the second seizure
was prompted by an article entitled "How Aliya Nazarbayeva
does her business." The article reported that a company
owned by the president's daughter was causing the
"Alautransgas-Vostok" JSC to go bankrupt. Yergaliyeva
claimed the seizure was evidence that the authorities were
using the fact that opposition papers were now printed at
a printing house owned by a Nazarbayev relative to gain
early access to each edition.

Warnings against Contact with Foreigners


17. (SBU) It appears that in at least three oblasts,
authorities have issued a warning to avoid or monitor
contact with foreigners in advance of the presidential
elections. In a western oblast, regional authorities have
ordered that an English speaking faculty member or local
official must supervise classes taught by a Peace Corps
Volunteer (protect). The rector of a university in an
eastern city asked a PCV to leave the school due to a
warning from local authorities to avoid contact with
foreigners. The rector relented when shown a letter sent
by Peace Corps headquarters to all supervisors of
volunteers stating that PCVs are not allowed to
participate in any election-related activities. In a
southern oblast, several schools refused to meeting with

Peace Corps staff to discuss placement of future PCVs due
to the elections and a warning to avoid contact with