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08ASTANA1798 2008-09-16 09:54:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana
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1. The "Almaty Notes" series is intended to maintain focus on
developments in civil society, the media, and the opposition in
Kazakhstan's "southern capital" following the move of the Embassy to

Unique Protest


2. The Talmas youth movement, a group of young activists, organized
an original political protest against the ruling Nur Otan party on
August 30, Kazakhstan's Constitution Day. Satirizing devotion to
President Nazarbayev, the group marched down one of the main streets
of Almaty wearing sheep's masks and carrying posters that said in
Latin "the king's will is the highest law." In comments to the
media, the participants referred to themselves as the "Nur Otar"
movement -- "Otar" means "flock of sheep" in Kazakh -- and called on
Nazarbayev to disband the Parliament as "a useless body." "We have
neither faces nor names," said one protestor, "Kazakhstani society
should seek the same facelessness: only numbers, sheep number one,
sheep number two, etc."

3. Police broke up the protest and detained participants for
several hours. On September 4, an Almaty administrative court
sentenced the leader of the Talmas movement, noted civil society
activist Aynur Kurmanov, to 15 days in jail for organizing a rally
without proper authorization. Three other protest participants were
fined between 17,000 and 23,000 tenge (approximately $140 to $190).

Libel Suits Against Opposition Newspaper Taszhargan



4. In August, a court ordered the opposition newspaper Taszhargan to
publish a second retraction of an article that ostensibly defamed
Beket Turgarayev, chairman of the North Kazakhstan oblast court.
Turgarayev was allegedly not satisfied with a previous retraction
published in May. In addition to Turgarayev's suit, the paper is
being sued for libel by parliamentarian Roman Madinov, two
businessmen, and the head of a civil society organization.
Taszhargan maintains that if the courts find the paper liable in any
of these cases, it would not be able to cover the damage claims and
would thus be forced to close.

Masimov Tells Contractors to Speed Up


5. On September 8, Prime Minister Masimov visited several of the
sites which will host the Asian Winter Games in Almaty in 2011. He
toured the Medeu skating rink and the Chimbulak ski resort. Masimov
asked contractors to step up their construction and renovation work,
explaining that President Nazarbayev is not satisfied with the pace
of their efforts.