Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09ASTANA418
2009-03-06 09:28:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Astana
Cable title:  

KAZAKHSTAN: LIFE ON THE STEPPE, FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 6

Tags:  PGOV PHUM PROP ECON EAGR SOCI KISL KDEM KZ 
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RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000418 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD, DRL
AGRICULTURE FOR FAS
ANKARA FOR REGIONAL AGRICULTURE COUNSELOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PROP ECON EAGR SOCI KISL KDEM KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: LIFE ON THE STEPPE, FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 6

ASTANA 00000418 001.3 OF 002


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000418

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD, DRL
AGRICULTURE FOR FAS
ANKARA FOR REGIONAL AGRICULTURE COUNSELOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PROP ECON EAGR SOCI KISL KDEM KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: LIFE ON THE STEPPE, FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 6

ASTANA 00000418 001.3 OF 002



1. This is another in a series of weekly cables drawn mostly from
public media, as well as think-tank, NGO, and opposition web-sites,
selected to show the diversity of life in Kazakhstan, and
information about it available to citizens of Kazakhstan. Our goal
is to choose what might interest and be of use to various end-users
in Washington and -- especially -- to provide a more complex view
from the other side of the world, illustrating the vitality (and
sometimes the quirkiness) of discourse available to citizens of
Kazakhstan.

KAZAKHSTANI PILGRIMS TO MARCH FROM ASTANA TO MECCA


2. In April, 48 Kazakhstanis will participate in the first ever
march from Astana to Mecca. The "Nur Zholy," a march of "peace and
accord," will be dedicated to the Third Congress of Leaders of World
and Traditional Religions which will take place in Astana this year.
The pilgrims will walk 7,007 km through seven countries in 200
days. The goal of the march is to "spread information about the
history, culture, traditions and achievements of Kazakhstan, and
also to elevate Kazakhstan's role in promoting international peace."
To promote their country, the organizers are planning photo
exhibitions about Kazakhstan in the 11 cities that the pilgrims plan
to walk through.

DEFRAUDED INVESTORS SEEKING TO REMOVE CONSTRUCTION BOSS


3. Would-be residents of apartment blocks that have not yet been
built by KUAT Corporation, once Kazakhstan's largest construction
company, collected more than 20,000 signatures in a drive to strip
the company's chairman, Oleg Nam, of his mandate as a deputy of the
Almaty maslikhat (local legislative body). Like other Kazakhstani
construction companies, KUAT pre-sold thousands of apartments in
apartment buildings whose construction has not been finished or has
not even started. As the global credit crisis hit Kazakhstan in
2007, the construction sector froze and many Kazakhstanis who put

their life savings into unfinished apartments found themselves
without their money and without apartments.


4. Last month, Kazakhstan's financial police accused KUAT's top
managers of large-scale embezzlement and began criminal proceedings
against several unnamed executives. Ever since the problems of the
construction sector became known, angry "dolshiki" (individuals who
bought pre-sold apartments) have called for Nam's resignation from
Almaty's maslikhat. These calls intensified since the charges
against KUAT became official in February, and so far have culminated
in a petition drive to remove Nam from his post that has attracted
more than 20,000 signatures. "We plan to deliver the signatures to
the local election committee, along with a letter urging the
stripping of Oleg Nam's mandate. We will also deliver the
signatures to Almaty's maslikhat." Nam himself said that the only
people with a right to dismiss him from his position are his voters.
"They have elected me, and it will be their decision or their right
to revoke (my mandate)," he said.

DEDICATED CENSUS WORKERS REACH AN UNDERGROUND COMMUNITY


5. Census workers in the Pavlodar region discovered a community of
twenty people living on a island in "zemlyankas" -- underground
dwellings dug into the ground without electricity, running water and
other luxuries of mordern civilization. Officially, the island in
the middle of the Irtysh river is uninhabited. "You can only get
there by boat in the summer, or across the ice in the winter," local
officials said. Local officials discovered the settlement during a
helicopter flight last summer, when they surveyed the local area,
which is under environmental protection. Kazakhstani census
officials promised to account for everyone, including "foreigners
and bums," in this year's census. Pavlodar census workers more than
contributed to this effort. Despite the fact that their car broke
down on the way and they had to walk more than three kilometers,
they safely made their way into the settlement "even though they
were unable to reach everyone."

OPEN-AIR MEAT MARKETS


ASTANA 00000418 002.3 OF 002



6. The akimat (government administration) of Zhambyl oblast has
organized a weekend meat market on the main square of Taraz, the
oblast's capital and one of the largest cities in southern
Kazakhstan. The meat market, which according to local residents was
launched immediately after the tenge devaluation, appears to be
rather ad-hoc. People sell meat out of the trunks of their cars and
butcher it on the spot. Hunks of meat sit on top of cars, inside
trunks, or lie on the ground. This rather messy business is
conducted against the backdrop of a beautifully restored square in
what EmbOff describes as by far the nicest part of the city. "The
juxtaposition of huge, bloody hunks of meat right in the middle of
it was a bit of a shock," she says.


7. A similar meat market has been started in Shymkent -- this one is
located across the street from the Mega Center mall -- prime
commercial real estate. This development came a year after
Shymkent's akim (mayor) decided to move the city's main bazaar,
reportedly because he wanted Shymkent to look "modern." "And now
they have an ad hoc outdoor slaughterhouse on the doorstep of the
Mega Center," EmbOff reports.

"BUY AMERICAN CHICKEN LEGS"


8. Last month, a member of the Pavlodar maslikhat (local
legislature),Askar Bakhralinov, told the press that a large batch
of American chicken legs, allegedly produced and frozen more than 30
years ago, was released from U.S. army reserves and brought onto
Kazakhstan's markets. The Central Asia representative of the U.S.
Poultry and Egg Export Council, Bella Ablayaeva, responded that the
Council was disturbed by efforts to disseminate such rumors. She
was convinced that someone tried to slander the quality of U.S.
produce. Ablayeva said that all poultry produced in the United
States goes through thorough quality control. American companies
value their image and export only quality produce. According to
Ablayeva, the story is an absurd lie aimed at reducing the
competitiveness of American produce. An official at the Committee
of State Epidemic Control in Almaty, Olga Asayeva, confirmed that
U.S. chicken legs go through strict controls in both the United
States and Kazakhstan, and her department has never received any
complaints about the quality of American chicken legs. "The product
is of good quality and there are no reasons to worry. Don't listen
to rumors. Buy American chicken legs," Asayeva said.

HOAGLAND