Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 177

Moscow media are publicizing a controversy that pits Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev against the daily Izvestiya over the newspaper’s publication of a letter allegedly addressed by Nazarbayev to his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov. In the purported secret letter, Nazarbayev criticizes the CIS customs union — comprised of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan — and the four countries’ March 1996 "deeper integration treaty," for failing to meet the interests of the Central Asian states. He also allegedly urges Karimov to take joint steps toward strengthening the Central Asian union comprised of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, including the formation of a common legislative body of the three countries. Nazarbayev has denied the existence of the document and condemned Izvestiya for disturbing relations among CIS countries. (NTV, September 23; Interfax, September 19; Izvestiya, September 18) The document was contained in an article by the Moscow daily’s correspondent in Almaty. Irrespective of the question of authenticity, the spirit of the alleged letter appears consistent with Nazarbayev’s and Karimov’s views on the CIS and the role of Central Asian countries.

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