Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 223

The "rights of Kazakhstan’s Russian-speaking population" was said to be among the topics raised by President Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff, Anatoly Chubais, during talks yesterday with the visiting prime minister of Kazakhstan, Akezhan Kazhegeldin. Chubais reportedly expressed concern over Kazakhstan’s language policy, which would require state officials and civil servants to know the Kazakh language when named to — or confirmed in — their posts. Chubais also pressed Kazhegeldin to consider a Russian proposal aimed at creating a joint concern of Caspian states to exploit oil and gas deposits in a large central zone of that sea on the basis of "common ownership" — a proposal opposed by both Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Kazhegeldin’s response implied polite disagreement on both counts. However, he shied away from raising the matter of Russian arrears in rent due to Kazakhstan for use of the Baikonur cosmodrome, and even abjured any claim to compensation for related ecological damage. According to Kazakhstan’s Moscow embassy, Russia is supposed to pay $115 million in annual rent for Baikonur, but has paid nothing since 1992. (Interfax, November 26; Argumenty i Fakty, no. 47, November 1996) Russia signed a 20-year lease for the facility in 1994. However, the agreement provided that the cost of the lease would be deducted from Kazakhstan’s debt to Russia.

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