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2005-11-28 05:00:00
US Office Almaty
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280500Z Nov 05
						UNCLAS  ALMATY 004188 



E.O. 12958: N/A




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: This information is drawn primarily from the
Kazakhstani local press, and has not been verified. The
opinions expressed in this report, therefore, should not be
interpreted by readers as conveying positions and/or policy
of the U.S. Government.

-- Aral Sea to be Filled With Water in the Coming Years
-- Kazakhstan to Tighten Environment Law, Increase Fines
-- U.S. Bans Beluga Caviar
-- Ecology Minister Slams Oil Companies
-- Mazhilis Approves Draft Law on Kazakhstan's Joining a
Convention on Wetlands
-- Mazhilis Approves Draft Law on Kazakhstan's Joining a
Convention on Protecting the Caspian Sea
-- Kazakhstan Discusses Ratification of the Kyoto
Protocol, UN Convention On Climate Change
-- International Agreement on the Balkhash Basin to be
Developed in Kazakhstan
-- Institute of Nuclear Physics Proposes to Transfer Part of
SNTG Territory for Economic Use
-- Brucellosis Included in the List of Especially Dangerous
Animal Diseases
-- HIV/AIDS Disease Incidents in Kazakhstan Increase by 20%

Aral Sea To Be Filled With Water In The Coming Years
-------------- --------------

2. The Small Aral Sea separated from the Big Aral Sea by
the Kok-Aral dam and will be filled with water in the next
two to three years, Kazakhstan Vice-Premier Akhmetzhan
Yesimov said at the second international forum "Balkhash-
2005" in Almaty on September 30. The water would fill 360
sq km of area and would stretch almost 120 km to reach the
town of Aralsk. The vice-premier underlined that the
filling of Small Aral will favorably affect the
development of the fishing industry in the region. The
new dam is one of the main targets of the project on
Regulation of the Syrdarya River and conservation of the
northern part of Aral Sea implemented by Kazakhstan under
the auspices of World Bank funding. The first stage of the
project is estimated at $85.79 mn, including $64.5 mn from
a loan extended by the Worlk Bank. The remaining funds
were provided by Kazakhstan (October 3, 2005).

Kazakhstan to Tighten Environment Law, Increase Fines
-------------- --------------

3. Kazakhstan's Ecology and Environment Ministry said
Wednesday that in 2006 it plans to increase the fines to
be paid by oil companies for environmental damage. Ecology
and Environment Minister Aitkul Samakova said the new
fines will be many times more than the current ones--about
500 million tenge ($4 million)--and substantial enough to
force companies to buy environmentally-friendly equipment.
She said many large oil companies continue to illegally
flare associate gas, despite fines (Dow Jones
International News, October 5, 2005).

U.S. Bans Beluga Caviar

4. The U.S. ban on the import of beluga and beluga caviar
produced in the Caspian Sea will not negatively affect
Kazakhstani fish producers' operations, according to the
news service of the AtyrauBalyk JSC in the Atyrau oblast. On
September 30, the U.S. introduced a prohibition of beluga
caviar and all beluga product imports produced in the
Caspian Sea. The U.S. Wildlife Service stressed that the
prohibition was motivated by an attempt to save the beluga
sturgeon species. This species of fish has declined by 90%
over the last 20 years, and is presently under the
protection of a UN convention. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency asked Caspian littoral states to respond
by September 6 with measures that they will take to preserve
beluga sturgeon. However, it has not received a reply from
any of the Caspian countries (Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan,
Turmenistan and Azerbaijan) as of yet (Interfax-Kazakhstan,
October 10, 2005).

Ecology Minister Slams Oil Companies

5. The RK Environment Protection Minister A. Samakova has
criticized oil and gas companies operating in Kazakhstan for
insufficient attention to ecological issues. She stressed
that a "significant decrease" in the volume of investment
for environmental protection has occurred at Tengizchevroil,
KarakudukMunay, KarazhanbasMunay, KazakhTurkMunay and other
companies. Samakova said that "gross violations" related to
the control of radioactive material were found at the Great
Wall LLP as well as at the KazMunayGas oil and gas company.

The latter does not control its level of radiation due to
absence of monitoring equipment. The Minister also pointed
out that submerged oil and gas wells in the Caspian zone
provoke great concern and can cause complicated ecological
situations. There are 85 submerged wells, which require the
adoption of "urgent measures," she said. In addition, the
minister stressed that oil companies should develop and
implement programs for the utilization of associated gas,
sulfur and other production wastes, and re-cultivate the
soil (Interfax-Kazakhstan, October 10, 2005).

Mazhilis Approves Draft Law on Joining Wetlands Convention
-------------- --------------

6. On September 28, at the plenary session of the
Mazhilis, deputies approved Kazakhstan's joining of the
Convention on the Wetlands of International Importance
Especially as Wildlife Habitat. As the Mazhilis Committee
on International Affairs, Defense and Security noted,
three wetlands of Kazakhstan - Tengiz-Korgaldzhinskoye,
Alakolskaya lake systems and at the juncture of the rivers
Tengiz and Irgiz - are recognized as having international
importance. The Convention on the Wetlands of
International Importance Especially as Wildlife Habitat is
an intergovernmental agreement signed in 1971 in Ramsar.
It entered into force in 1975 (Gazeta, kz, September 28,

Mazhilis Approves Joining Caspian Sea Convention
-------------- ---

7. On September 28, at the plenary session of the
Mazhilis, deputies approved Kazakhstan's joining of the
Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of
the Caspian Sea. According to the Committee on
International Affairs, Defense and Security, the goal of
signing this Convention is to develop cooperation in the
protection of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea
from pollution, including protection, conservation,
restoration and sustainable and rational use of its
bioresources. The Convention was adopted in November 2003
in Tehran. It was signed by Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan,
Russia and Turkmenistan. The bill is pending the Senate's
consideration (Gazeta. kz, September 28, 2005).

Kyoto Protocol, UN Convention on Climate Change
-------------- --

8. Vice Environment Protection Minister Zh. Bekzhanov and
Director of the Coordination Center on Climate Change, K.
Baigarin, discussed the issue of ratification of the Kyoto
Protocol by Kazakhstan on September 27. Along with the
developed countries, Kazakhstan has announced its
intention to take quantitative obligations on reducing
greenhouse emissions. An interagency commission
determined that in the base year on greenhouse emissions,
1992, emissions totaled 340 million tons of CO-2
equivalent. Consequently, Kazakhstan informed Convention
parties of its intention not to exceed 340 million tons of
emissions during the first record session (Earthwire
Kazakhstan, September 29, 2005).

International Agreement on the Balkhash Basin

9. Minister of Environmental Protection A. Samakova
announced on September 30 that the Ministry intends to
develop an international Agreement on sustainable
development and equal partnership of states located in the
Lake Balkhash basin. The international agreement should be
developed on the principles of the Helsinki Convention on
Protection and Use of Tranboundary Water Streams and
International Lakes. The main problem is the quality of the
water and the task is not to damage the ecosystem of the
region and not to create the Second Aral, she noted at the
briefing. (Kazakhstan Today, Sept 30, 2005)

INP Proposes Transfer of Part of SNTG Territory
-------------- --

10. The Institute of Nuclear Physics, National Nuclear
Center, proposed to transfer part of the Semipalatinsk
Nuclear Test Site territory for economic use, noting that
the land is clean. This was announced by the Director of the
Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kairat Kadyrzhanov, at the
fifth international conference "Nuclear and Radiation
Physics" held in Alatau settlement near Almaty on September

26. He also noted that there were territories that would be
prohibited for use for decades and even hundreds of years.
He hopes that if clean territories are transferred for use,
the border of the test site will decrease and it will become

easier to control the territory. However, U.S. scientists
advised caution as economic activity may spread radioactive
pollution both within the territory of the test site and
beyond its borders (Interfax-Kazakhstan, September 26,

Brucellosis Listed as Especially Dangerous Animal Disease
-------------- --------------

11. the Government of Kazakhstan introduced amendments to
April 28, 2003 GOK Resolution No. 407 and added brucellosis
to a list of especially dangerous diseases (Kazinform,
September 26, 2005).

HIV/AIDS Increases by 20% Annually

12. According to the Second Report on the Millennium
Development Goals in Kazakhstan, presented in Astana,
cases of HIV/AIDS in Kazakhstan are increasing by 20%
annually. According to the report, current legislation is
rather controversial. On one hand, AIDS-infected people
are protected, on the other hand they often face
restrictions. Most infected people in Kazakhstan are poor
and do not receive extra aid beyond the standard social
protection. They are discriminated against and isolated.
The document also says that nongovernmental organizations
and the diseased themselves are not engaged in the fight
against HIV/AIDS properly (The Times of Central Asia,
October 10, 2005).