Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee and Internal Affairs Ministry yesterday denied that either of them had arrested Mikhail Vasilichenko, an aide to the declared presidential aspirant Akezhan Kazhegeldyn. According to Kazhegeldyn, the police arrested Vasilichenko in the capital Astana on September 18 and confiscated from him the texts of proposed amendments to Kazakhstan’s constitution and electoral law. Kazhegeldyn claims that the police acted in order to stop Vasilichenko from publicizing the proposed amendments.
Kazhegeldyn, a former prime minister and current chairman of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (UIE), has announced plans to challenge President Nursultan Nazarbaev in the next presidential election and to form a political organization based on the UIE. Kazhegeldyn describes Vasilichenko as a “volunteer adviser” to the UIE. Vasilichenko’s actual whereabouts are still undetermined (Russian agencies, September 21; AP, September 20).
Shortly before this incident, the Moscow newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, which is controlled by CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky, virtually endorsed Kazhegeldyn’s presidential aspirations. It described him as intending to “move Kazakhstan from the appearance of democracy to real democracy” and as “Nazarbaev’s only real competitor.” It also hailed the creation of a public movement, entitled For Honest Elections, aligned with Kazhegeldyn. Finally, it accused the authorities of banning Kazhegeldyn’s programmatic book, printed first in Russian and then in Kazakh (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 11). — VS
STANDARD AND POOR’S LOWERS KAZAKHSTAN’S CREDIT RATING.