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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08ASTANA1863
2008-09-24 11:12:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Astana
Cable title:  

KAZAKHSTAN - CHARGE'S VISIT TO HARE KRISHNA SITE ATTRACTS

Tags:   PHUM  KIRF  PGOV  KZ 
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VZCZCXRO0432
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RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #1863 2681112
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241112Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3387
INFO RUCNOSC/OSCE POST COLLECTIVE
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
						UNCLAS ASTANA 001863 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KIRF PGOV KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN - CHARGE'S VISIT TO HARE KRISHNA SITE ATTRACTS
INTEREST OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES



1. (SBU) The Charge visited the Hare Krishna community 20 kilometers
outside of Almaty on September 17. The Krisha community's property
at this site has been the subject of a long-running dispute with
local authorities, who have tried to force the Krishnas off of their
valuable land plot. The head of Hare Krishna community, Victor
Golous, led the Charge on a tour of the property, including the Hare
Krishna temple, and described the problems the community was
facing.



2. (SBU) Just minutes after the Charge's arrival, several
representatives of the local akimat (i.e., government
administration), including the head of its internal affairs
department, also arrived at the site. They complained that the
Charge was visiting the area without advance notice to the local
authorities. They maintained that when the British ambassador had
visited the Hare Krishna community, he had provided such advance
notice. The Charge explained that he was not making an official
visit to the region, but offered to pay a visit to the local akim
(government administration head). After calling her superiors, the
internal affairs department head said that there was no need to
visit the akim at this time. (Note: The MFA has made clear to us
that diplomats do not need government approval to travel within
Kazakhstan. However, the MFA also requests that we notify them of
any official travel outside of Astana, allegedly so they can ensure
that protocol and security arrangements are in place. Local
authorities will only meet with diplomats if advance request is made
through the MFA. End Note.)



3. (SBU) Following this incident, Golous explained to the Charge
that approximately 30 Hare Krishna devotees reside at the site.
Several hundred people, he maintained, attend Hare Krishna services
there on Sundays. This includes some local residents and their
children, to whom the Hare Krishna community distributes food.
Golous described relations between the community and local residents
as amicable.



4. (SBU) Golous reminded the Charge that the Hare Krishnas had
recently rejected five land plots offered by local authorities in
exchange for the Hare Krisha's current property. According to
Golous, two plots were too far (70 kilometers) from Almaty, out in
the steppe with no roads, electricity, or water. The community
needs water for irrigation and for its 30 head of cattle. A third
plot was a former cemetery, and a fourth was adjacent to a cemetery.
In the end, the authorities actually withdrew the offer of the
fourth plot because they decided they wanted to expand the cemetery.
The fifth plot is a dumping ground with no water or electricity
supply.



5. (SBU) According to Golous, the Hare Krishna community's latest
counterproposal to the authorities is that they would keep a
15-hectare portion of their current 47-hectare property, but not ask
for any compensation in return. The authorities have not responded
to this offer. Golous said that the Hare Krishnas have been invited
to an OSCE meeting (presumably in Vienna) in October to explain
their situation.



6. (SBU) Comment: The Hare Krishna stalemate may very well continue
for some time. The current climate for "non-traditional" religious
groups (with, among other things, the government pressing for more
restrictive legislation to control them better) does not augur for a
mutually satisfactory resolution in the near future. However, as we
have stressed from the beginning, while this dispute is in part
about religion -- the government harbors deep suspicions about the
Hare Krishnas -- it is also in part about a valuable piece of land
that other interested parties want for their own benefit. End
Comment.

MILAS