PCV Anthony Sharp
Following are all US diplomatic cables taken from Wikileaks regarding the case of Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp who was arrested "in what appeared to be a classic Soviet-style set-up" and sentenced to two years in prison. The volunteer was only freed through the diplomatic efforts of US Ambassador Richard Hoagland and the personal intervention of Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Diplomatic Cable: December 9, 2008
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER IN LEGAL TROUBLE, BUT OK FOR NOW
1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for Internet distribution.
2. (SBU) Summary. Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Kavanaugh Sharp (02 October 1982) may be charged after police caught him leaving a restricted mine complex with what they say were industrial explosives. Mr. Sharp is not in custody but his movements are restricted. A Consular Officer visited Mr. Sharp and met with police in Ridder, Kazakhstan. Subsequently the Charge and Conoff met with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials regarding the case. If charged and convicted, Mr. Sharp could face up to five years in prison. End Summary.
3. (SBU) Police took Mr. Sharp into custody at about 2 a.m. on November 26th after they spotted him climbing a fence to leave a restricted zinc mining complex near Ridder, a town of about 60,000 people in the mountains north of Oskemen (Ust Kamenogorsk) in northeastern Kazakhstan. Mr. Sharp was carrying a bag, which he says belonged to a friend, containing what police describe as industrial explosives commonly used in mining. In a subsequent search of Mr. Sharp's residence, police took several maps, his cell phone, camera, computer, a number of CD-ROMs and some hiking/outdoor gear.
3. (SBU) Police questioned Mr. Sharp throughout most of Thanksgiving day, but released him that evening without charges. Police did take Mr. Sharp's passport and he cannot leave Kazakhstan until the investigation, which could take up to two months, is complete. Police say they will likely charge Mr. Sharp under section 25.1 of the Kazakhstani legal code, illegal possession of firearms (explosives). If charged and convicted, Mr. Sharp faces a maximum of five years in prison.
4. (SBU) Mr. Sharp says he went to the mining complex with his supervisor from the NGO where he was assigned to work as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) and a friend of his supervisor's who was familiar with the mine. According to Mr. Sharp, he had long been curious about the mine and quickly agreed when his supervisor suggested a visit. While they were at the mine, he says his supervisor picked up several items and placed them in his bag. Mr. Sharp says he did not know what the items were and that he only took the bag as he was getting ready to climb the fence to leave the mine. Police did not apprehend Mr. Sharp's supervisor or the third man.
5. (SBU) A Consular Officer visited Mr. Sharp in Ridder on December 3rd. Mr. Sharp has been assigned to Ridder as a PCV for two years and has many local friends and knows the community well. There is also a second PCV assigned to the town and, at the time of the conoff's visit, an additional PCV was in Ridder to provide moral support to Mr. Sharp. The Peace Corps Safety and Security Officer has also visited Ridder. Peace Corps has arranged for legal representation. Mr. Sharp has no health issues and has not made any specific requests of the Embassy. The Conoff has been in regular contact with Mr. Sharp's family in Oregon.
6. (SBU) The Consular Officer also met with the Ridder police investigator assigned to Mr. Sharp's case, the senior investigator, the Deputy Chief of Police and the Chief of Police. They say the case file and all evidence, including the items taken from Mr. Sharp's residence, were sent to the Oskemen Ministry of Internal Affairs regional office for examination. They are awaiting instructions from their superiors in Oskemen before taking further steps, but all the police officials said they expect Mr. Sharp will be charged. The investigators both said they believed Mr. Sharp had been used by others, but that they did not know by whom or why, and that they did not think that Mr. Sharp's actions on November 25th/26th were motivated by criminal intent. The Chief of Police also mentioned that some of the maps found in Mr. Sharp's residence could possibly be considered military secrets (Mr. Sharp says they were Soviet-era topographical maps of the region purchased locally soon after he arrived).
7. (SBU) The Charge and Conoff met with Talgat Kaliyev, the head of the MFA Americas Desk, and his consular assistant on December 4 to regarding the case. Mr. Kaliyev was aware of the details of the case and said he believed it to be a serious matter. He pointed out that Mr. Sharp was in a restricted area in the middle of the night and that markings on the maps found in his residence were of interest. Mr. Kaliyev said that he was concerned that Mr. Sharp's explanation of his actions did not reflect his true intentions. Mr. Kaliyev promised, however, to help resolve the matter as expeditiously as possible.
8. (SBU) Mr. Kaliyev raised the cases of Asel (sic) Abdygapparova, currently serving a life sentence in Texas for capital murder, and Talapker Imanbayev. The MFA stressed that this was not a "tit for tat" but that they simply wanted to see "what the possibility was" of Abdygapparova serving the remainder of her sentence in Kazakhstan and returning Imanbayev to serve time for a previous Kazakhstani fraud conviction. Imanbayev received refugee status in the United States, but we understand that he is currently going through deportation procedures for fraudulently applying for that status.
9. (SBU) The MFA agreed that it would be useful for the Peace Corps Country Director and an Embassy representative to meet with senior Ministry of Internal Affairs officials to discuss the Peace Corps mission and the contribution PCVs make to Kazakhstan. We hope to schedule the meeting for December 9th or 10th.
Diplomatic Cable: December 12, 2008
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/13/2018 TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: FOLLOW-UP ON RAKHAT ALIYEV, PEACE CORPS CASE, NORTHERN DISTRIBUTION NETWORK
REF: A. ASTANA 2450 B. ASTANA 2410
Classified By: AMBASSADOR RICHARD E. HOAGLAND: 1.4 (B), (D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador met with President Nursultan Nazarbayev's Foreign Policy Adviser Yerzhan Kazykhanov on December 12 on three current issues: the impact of exiled former son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev on the bilateral relationship, the need to move rapidly on TRANSCOM's Northern Distribution Network, and the Peace Corps volunteer currently under investigation for an alleged criminal act. END SUMMARY.
2. (S) The Ambassador told Kazykhanov, as he had told Head of the Presidential Administration Aslan Musin on December 10 (reftel A), the United States has no interest in Nazarbayev's exiled former son-in-law and former high official Rakhat Aliyev; we have no contact with him; we would not like to see him in the United States; we do not want to be involved in this affair. However, we would be interested to know the source of the information Musin said the Government of Kazakhstan has that Aliyev's lawyers are negotiating with the United States for citizenship or political asylum for Aliyev. The Ambassador said if the source of the information is a third country, we would consider it disinformation calculated to harm the U.S.-Kazakhstan bilateral relationship.
3. (S) Kazykhanov replied that the Ambassador's message on Aliyev is clear, and President Nazarbayev was "very pleased" after Musin briefed him on the December 10 meeting: "There is no mistrust now in this particular sphere." Kazykhanov proffered that Kazakhstan's "source of information" is really just suspicion, the assumption that articles in Western media favoring Aliyev must be an attempt to lay the groundwork for his eventual request for political asylum. He quipped that Kazakhstan is "quite capable of making wrong assumptions on its own without help from the outside." Musin's staff are preparing a detailed file on Aliyev and his alleged crimes to deliver to the Embassy. (COMMENT: Even if Nazarbayev is supposedly satisfied that the United States has no interest in Aliyev, we are certain we have not heard the end of this issue. END COMMENT.)
NORTHERN DISTRIBUTION NETWORK
4. (SBU) The Ambassador previewed for Kazykhanov the diplomatic note that he planned to deliver to Security Council Deputy Secretary Abdirov later in the day relaying TRANSCOM's urgent request to use Kazakhstan's commercial transportation networks for a Northern Distribution Network (NDN) to provide non-lethal, non-military supplies to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He noted that Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan are essentially on board, and that it is essential we receive Kazakhstan's approval as quickly as possible, preferably by a simple exchange of diplomatic notes.
5. (SBU) Kazykhanov said he understands both the value and urgency of an NDN and undertook to "talk to the right people" to push this forward. He said he suspects this can indeed be achieved simply by an exchange of diplomatic notes, commenting that a bilateral agreement would take too long and would need parliamentary approval.
PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER INVESTIGATION
6. (C) Kazykhanov said he was unaware that a Peace Corps Volunteer in the town of Ridder is under investigation for trespassing at a restricted zinc mine and allegedly carrying industrial explosives (reftel B). The Ambassador summarized the case for him. He emphasized that he expects every U.S. citizen in Kazakhstan to obey the laws of the country; however, if the young man in question is guilty of anything it's of naivete and bad judgment. The Ambassador emphasized we fully agree with the Foreign Ministry that we want this handled quietly and kept out of the media. But the young man's parents are increasingly frustrated and have said they might contact U.S. journalists to publicize this case to try to speed its resolution. The Ambassador pressed that the investigation be completed quickly and that the young man be deported as soon as possible. (COMMENT: The Volunteer, at the end of his tour, was to have departed Kazakhstan on December 2. While he is not being detained, local authorities are holding his passport and not allowing him to travel while the investigation is on-going. END COMMENT.)
7. (C) Kazykhanov said he fully agreed that we do not want this incident to become a bilateral irritant. He said he would "talk around" to see what could be done to expedite the case and conclude it satisfactorily, but added he could make no promises at this point.
Diplomatic Cable: December 31, 2008
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2018 TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: DINNER WITH STATE SECRETARY SAUDABAYEV
REF: A. ASTANA 2553 B. ASTANA 2570 C. ASTANA 2410 D. ASTANA 2551 E. ASTANA 2372
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland: 1.4 (A), (B), (D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: Kazakhstan's self-described Number Two and President Nazarbayev's confidante, State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev, told the Ambassador on December 29:
-- Kazakhstan would give TRANSCOM a positive reply to the U.S. request to include Kazakhstan as an essential link in the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) to commercially supply and provision U.S. troops in Afghanistan; in fact, he called the Ambassador on December 30 to report President Nazarbayev's "green light" for the NDN;
-- Kazakhstan wants to accelerate its negotiations with the United States for WTO accession, but is facing increased skepticism within the government;
-- he was unaware of the investigation against a Peace Corps Volunteer for allegedly violating national security, but would work to ensure an outcome to remove this irritant in the bilateral relationship;
-- Nazarbayev's exiled former son-in-law remains a front-burner issue (however, he did not press for further U.S. involvement);
-- he will travel to Washington for the February 5 National Prayer Breakfast and would like to meet the new Secretary of State, but conceded a slightly later visit might be more productive;
-- Kazakhstan wants an early U.S. presidential visit; and
-- recounted at length his humble origins and how he first caught President Nazarbayev's attention.
Saudabayev is a curious character, likely somewhat self-serving (as most tend to be in similar circumstances), but we have little doubt he has President Nazarbayev's ear. His request for an early U.S. presidential visit to Kazakhstan (see para 8 below), even if brief, should not be dismissed out of hand because there could be significant dividends for U.S. national interests. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) On December 29, the Ambassador had a nearly three-hour one-on-one dinner in a private room of a popular Uzbek restaurant in Astana with President Nursultan Nazarbayev's reputed closest adviser, State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev. Not unusual for senior Kazakhstani officials, Saudabayev drank abstemiously and only sipped at the occasional toasts. Although Saudabayev's Chief of Staff Roman Vassilenko was to have joined the dinner, Saudabayev sent him away to "go mind the store." Key bilateral issues are in paras 3-6 below.
NORTHERN DISTRIBUTION NETWORK
3. (C) Having met only three days earlier with Secretary of the Security Council Kairbek Suleymenov to once again clarify the U.S. goal for a Northern Distribution Network (NDN) for Afghanistan (reftel A), the Ambassador emphasized the increasing urgency of Kazakhstan signing on to TRANSCOM's NDN. Saudabayev responded, "We'll have a positive answer as soon as possible. Thanks for answering our questions. Thanks for all the clarifications you made in recent weeks. The President trusts your word."
4. (C) The Ambassador recounted he had met on December 24 with Kazakhstan's WTO negotiator Zhana Aitzhanova and had pressed for accelerated bilateral negotiations with the United States for Kazakhstan's WTO accession (reftel B). Saudabayev responded, "We want to work fast on this for our own interests. We understand you have your own interests. We hope for compromise on both sides. Can we come together on this? We need a quick positive outcome. We are not playing you against Russia, but there are 'strong special interests' here against WTO. We understand this is a question of our own sovereignty, but I emphasize there are strong special interests within our own government."
PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER UNDER INVESTIGATION
5. (C) Saudabayev credibly responded he was unaware of the case of Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp who is currently under investigation for having trespassed at a restricted site and for having been apprehended with a bag allegedly containing industrial explosives (reftel C). He asked, "Is this the KNB (Committe for National Security, the pro-Moscow ex-KGB intelligence service) or MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs)?" The Ambassador responded, "MVD is investigating, but we strongly suspect the KNB is at the root of this. We consider the case, based on concrete evidence, a clear provocation and totally incompatible with our positive relationship. We are outraged, but we want this to continue to be kept quiet, out of the media. I insist to all American citizens in Kazakhstan that they must follow Kazakhstan's laws. In this case, as soon as the investigation is concluded, no matter the outcome, we want you to deport Sharp -- get this off the bilateral agenda. This is an irritant you do not want for the new U.S. administration." Saudabayev picked up his cell phone, dialed a number, but received no answer. He said, "We'll take care of this."
6. (C) Saudabayev asked if the Ambassador had passed to Washington, including to the FBI, the non-paper and records of court cases the Presidential Administration via the Foreign Ministry had provided on December 23 against Nazarbayev's exiled former son-in-law, Rakhat Aliyev. The Ambassador assured Saudabayev he had indeed passed the text of the non-paper to Washington, including to the FBI (reftel D). The Ambassador reiterated the U.S. position: we have had no contact with Aliyev; we want to contact with him; we consider this strictly an internal Kazakhstani affair. Saudabayev did not press further.
NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST
7. (C) Saudabayev told the Ambassador he intends to travel to Washington for the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5 and asked if it would be possible to meet then with the new Secretary of State. The Ambassador told him this might well be too early in the new administration, simply because of the initial logistics of organizing new personnel in the State Department, but said he would certainly make the recommendation. The Ambassador urged Saudabayev to travel later for better access, and asked him to make a special effort on Capitol Hill because of Kazakhstan's frequently stated frustration with the annual human-rights certification and the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Saudabayev responded he has already, with Nazarbayev's blessing, planned an April trip to Washington.
REQUEST FOR AN EARLY OBAMA VISIT
8. (C) Saudabayev added, "The President very much wants an Obama visit to Astana as soon as possible, even if only a brief stop-over to-from China. He was totally delighted with Obama's post-election phone call. This made a very deep and very positive impression. I want to help keep this momentum alive. We need this visit to keep us from being 'swallowed up' by our 'best friend' to the north. We fully understand your new president will want to repair the U.S. relationship with Russia, but please don't sell us short just to please Moscow. Keep the balance. Let us play a positive role for you in this region. This is what President Nazarbayev wants. I assure you I am speaking for him personally." (NOTE: After the U.S. presidential election, the Foreign Ministry also made a case for an early Obama visit to Kazakhstan (reftel E). END NOTE.)
PLUCKED FROM THE STICKS
9. (C) During the course of the evening's conversation, Saudabayev asserted he is Number Two in President Nazarbayev's inner circle, and Security Council Secretary Suleymenov is Number Three. The Ambassador asked Saudabayev about his history, noting that he himself was a "little kid from the small-town Midwest." Clearly pleased, Saudabayev recounted that he, too, was a "boy from the glubinka (the sticks)." Somehow, despite his humble village origins, he had been plucked to study at an art institute in the then-Leningrad. He recounted how he had been thrown in with arrogant Muscovites and Leningraders and that he would "never forget the insults." He said he had endured endless practical jokes against him, because of his provincial Central Asian origin, and that he had frequently been called behind his back a "chornaya zhopa" (a strong, racist insult). He said he initially had been miserable in Leningrad and frequently begged his father to let him return to the village and be "a simple boy." But his father had always told him, "Never! Study, study, study. Beat them and make me proud. Be a Kazakh!" At the end of the first-year exams, he came out at the top of his class -- the only Central Asian to do so. Nazarbayev, "then a big man in the Soviet Communist Party," heard about his success and took a personal interest in him, treated him like a younger brother. They have been intensely loyal to each other ever since. When President Nazarbayev told him to go to the United States as Kazakhstan's ambassador, Saudabayev said he told the President, "I don't want to go. Let me stay in (the then-capital) Almaty with you. But the President told me I must obey him. And so I went." Saudabayev concluded, "Please listen to Nazarbayev. He wants to trust you. Return his trust, and you will not be disappointed."
10. (C) COMMENT: Saudabayev is a curious character, both an international player and a throwback to an earlier age of confidante courtiers. It could be that Nazarbayev especially trusts him because Saudabayev is never mentioned as a possible successor to Nazarbayev. We have little doubt that many of Saudabayev's accounts are somewhat self-serving, but, at the same time, we believe that his whispers into Nazarbayev's ear carry some weight -- viz., his call to the Ambassador on December 30 that Nazarbayev had just approved Kazakhstan's participation in NDN. We support his request for an early visit to Kazakhstan, even if brief, by President Obama, and generally concur with Saudabayev that it could pay important dividends for U.S. national interests. END COMMENT.
Diplomatic Cable: January 12, 2009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/12/2029 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PINR, CASC, RS, KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: STATE SECRETARY DECLINES TO INTERVENE IN PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER'S CASE
REF: A. 08 ASTANA 2410 (NOTAL) B. 08 ASTANA 2576
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland: 1.4 (B), (D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: Ministry of Internal Affairs investigators have recommended that the Prosecutor General charge Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp with violation of Article 251, Part 1, of the Kazakhstan Criminal Code, illegal possession of firearms (explosives) while trespassing in a restricted area near the town of Ridder in East Kazakhstan Oblast. We believe there is substantial reason to believe Sharp was set up as a political provocation designed to harm the image of the Peace Corps and the U.S.-Kazakhstan bilateral relationship. The Ambassador asked President Nazarbayev's confidante, State Secretary Saudabayev, to intervene to remove this irritant before President-elect Obama's January 20 inauguration, but Saudabayev surprisingly said he can do nothing. During the investigation phase, the case did not appear in the media, but once the trial begins it is likely to go public. We will continue to press at high levels for dismissal of this case (unlikely), and ask that the Department demarche Kazakhstan's Ambassador Idrisov about it. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) At the suggestion of his Kazakhstani counterpart, Aleksei Aleksandrovich Grigorenko, and along with Grigorenko's acquiantance, Mikhail Vasilivich Petin, Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Kavanaugh Sharp trespassed at a restricted area, a zinc mine of KazZink, late night on November 26. according to Sharp. As the three were about to leave the restricted area, Grigorenko asked Sharp to hold his bag. As the three departed the restricted area after midnight on Nevember 27, mine security and local Ministry of Interior (MVD) police detained Sharp and claimed to find industrial explosives in "his" bag. Officials confiscated Sharp's passport (he was scheduled to finish his two-year tour and leave Kazakhstan on December 2) and told him he could not leave the country until the investigation was completed. Peace Corps Country Director John Sasser and other Peace corps officials have been in close contact with Sharp, and the embassy has had consular access (REFTEL A).
3. (C) On December 31, the MVD investigator recommended Sharp be charged with violating Article 251, Part 1, of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan, illegal possession of firearms (explosives), which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The Prosecutor General has 10 days to decide whether to charge Sharp and initiate a court case. Sharp has told us he was the only one of the three men in the mine who was apprehended. Although Sharp has video and photos to prove otherwise, the investigators refused to look at them. According to Sharp, the police received a tip-off as early as 20:00 hours that night that there would be trespassers at the mine, the bag he was caught with that allegedly contained explosives was not his, and the driver of the taxi they used to reach the mine has given false testimony. Further, the investigators have refused to check records of Grigorenko's cell-phone calls that night.
4. (C) While the investigation continued, the Embassy kept a relatively low profile. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Americas Director Taltgat Kaliyev described the case to EmbOffs as "serious" and began to suggest informally, although not request officially, that we consider a "prisoner exchange" for two Kazakhstani citizens in the United States, one in prison in Texas for murder and the other from whom the United States is already seeking to revoke asylum status for having obtained it under false pretenses. The Embassy has made clear at all levels that we reject any possibility of linkage and that an "exchange" is a non-starter. Both the Foreign Ministry and the Embassy agreed we want to keep this incident out of the media.
5. (C) During a private dinner on December 29, the Ambassador raised the case with Kazakhstan's former ambassador to Washington and current State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev (REFTEL B). The Ambassador pointed out the inconsistencies in the case and said we strongly suspect a set-up by those who would seek to harm the image of the Peace Corps and the bilateral relationship. Saudabayev said he was unaware of the case but would look into it. On Janury 6, the Ambassador met with Saudabayev's Chief of Staff Roman Vassilenko and went through the case in detail, emphasizing our suspicion that this is a provocation designed to harm the bilateral relationship.
6. (C) On January 9, the Ambassador presented a non-paper to Saudabayev that concluded with the following paragraphs:
-- Should the case go to court, it is likely to become public. Neither Kazakhstan nor the United States wants that kind of publicity -- especially at the beginning of the new administration of U.S. President Barak Obama, who has already made a welcome gesture (a post-election phone call) to President Nazarbayev of his intention to build further our bilateral relationship.
-- ...I am convinced this case is a political provocation specifically designed to harm U.S.-Kazakhstani relations -- although I emphasize I do not believe the highest level of the government of Kazakhstan was aware of the provocation.
-- I ask that the government of Kazakhstan intevene at the highest levels to dismiss this case, declare Sharp persona non grata, and deport him immediately. I am certain the leadership of Kazakhstan wants this unpleasant situation concluded before the inauguration of President Obama on January 20.
7. (S) Saudabayev stepped into his private office with Vassilenko to read the paper. He then had Vassilenko tell the Ambassador, "The case is 'more complicated' than he first thought, and he can do nothing."
APPEARANCE OF POLITICAL PROVOCATION
8. (C) Assuming Sharp is telling us the truth, and we have no reason to doubt him, we strongly suspect this case is indeed a political provocation: Sharp went to the restricted zinc mine at Grigorenko's instigation; Grigorgenko handed Sharp a bag to hold as they were about the exit the mine premises; law-enforcement authorities allegedly received a tip-off call earlier in the evening and were waiting for them; the investigators have refused to examine all evidence. When an Embassy ConOff met with local law-enforcement officials in Ridder on December 3, they told him they believed Sharpe "had been used by others" and they did not think he acted with criminal intent. Law-enforcement officials planting firearms/explosives/drugs on an intended victim is a classic Soviet-style maneuver in this part of the world.
9. (S) Why would the government do this? We know from their many interventions during the past months that the government, and specifically Committee for National Security (KNB) Chairman Amangeldy Shabdarbayev, remains disappointed at best and deeply annoyed that the United States refuses to assist Kazakhstan with what it considers its most urgent and high-profile case, the extradition from Europe of Nazarbayev's former son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev. Further, we know that Russia's intent is to limit U.S. influence and presence in Central Asia, and Kazakhstan's KNB is extremely close to Russian intelligence agencies. Peace Corps would be an extremely low-hanging fruit.
SHARP'S APARTMENT ATTACKED
10. (C) At about 04:00 hours on January 11, someone threw a piece of metal through a window of the apartment where Sharp has been living. He was not injured. No other windows in the apartment building were broken. Later in the day he left his apartment and moved back in with his original host family. Peace Corps Country Director Sasser instructed Sharp to report the incident to the police and advised him to take extra precautions, like not walking around the town alone at night.
11. (C) As soon as Foreign Minister Marat Tazhin returns from vacation on January 19, the Ambassador will request a meeting to lay out, once again, the political consequences of this case, especially at the beginning of a new U.S. presidential administration. He will emphasize that Sharp's family has kept silent so far; but as soon as the case goes to court will publicize the case in the media, as they have said they will do, and likely will contact their Congressional representative. We also ask that the Department call in Kazakhstan's Ambassador Erlan Idrisov and make the same case.
Diplomatic Cable: January 23, 2009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2029 TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: MFA PROPOSES DEAL ON PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER CASE ENTAILING CONVICTION AND DEPORTATION
REF: A. ASTANA 0055 B. 08 ASTANA 2576 C. 08 ASTANA 2410 (NOTAL)
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland: 1.4 (B), (D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: After State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev declined to intervene in the criminal case involving Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp, the Ambassador raised it with Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Kairat Sarybay on January 15. Sarybay tasked resolving the matter to MFA Americas Department Director Talgat Kaliyev. In meetings on January 21 and 23, Kaliyev explained to us that the case can not simply be made to disappear. Instead, he proposed that there be a brief closed trial, with no media, where Sharp will be convicted and given a suspended sentence, after which he will be immediately deported from the country. Kaliyev said that he had spoken directly with the judge overseeing the case, and indicated that the proposal would be acceptable to all the relevant parties among the authorities. Kaliyev has briefed Foreign Minister Tazhin, who purportedly supports this solution. We explained that the decision about whether to accept the proposal would be Sharp's alone to make, in consultation with his lawyers. We told Kaliyev that as an alternative, Sharp might be willing to plead guilty to trespassing, a crime which carries a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail, if the other charges, including the explosives charge, are dropped. He said he would look into this alternative and get back to us by January 27. Peace Corps Director and Consular Chief will travel to Ridder on January 26 together with Sharp's lawyers and will inform Sharp and the lawyers about the government's proposal. END SUMMARY.
DEAL PROPOSED ON PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER CASE
2. (C) After State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev declined to intervene in the criminal case involving Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp, the Ambassador raised the matter with Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor (and former Deputy Foreign Minister) Kairat Sarybay. On January 15, the Ambassador provided Sarybay with the same non-paper on the case that he had given to Saudabayev (see ref A). Sarybay phoned the Ambassador on January 20 and informed him that he had tasked resolving the issue to MFA Americas Department Director Talgat Kaliyev.
3. (C) Kaliyev called in Pol-Econ Chief on January 21 and explained that he had spoken with "many people" involved with the case and had stressed to them the potential "political complications" for the bilateral relationship. Unfortunately, it was not simply possible to make the case disappear, given that Sharp was allegedly caught with explosives and that "classified maps" were found in his apartment. That said, there was a recognition that Sharp had no "evil intentions." Thus, Kaliyev had come up with a proposal to resolve the situation. This would entail a trial -- a perfunctory one -- in a closed court, without any media or publicity. Sharp would be found guilty, given a suspended sentence, and immediately deported from the country. Kaliyev said this proposal would be acceptable to all the relevant parties among the authorities.
4. (C) Pol-Econ Chief promised that we would review the proposal and get back to Kaliyev as soon as possible. He stressed that we believe the case against Sharp is a clear provocation. We are concerned that it might have originated from Astana, and that the Committee for National Security (KNB) could be involved. Kaliyev responded dismissively. The KNB is, of course, well aware of the case, since it involves a foreigner, but "they are not happy with it," he maintained.
5. (C) At the end of the meeting, Kaliyev told Pol-Econ Chief that it is important that Peace Corps volunteers behave appropriately and not get themselves in trouble. He requested information about the legal basis for the Peace Corps program in Kazakhstan, including whether the program has a formal bilateral agreement with the government. Pol-Econ Chief said he would obtain this information from the Peace Corps.
PROPOSAL REITERATED IN FOLLOW-UP MEETING
6. (C) Following in-house discussions with the Ambassador on January 22, Pol-Econ Chief, Peace Corps Country Director, and Consular Chief met together with Kaliyev on January 23. On this occasion, Kaliyev was accompanied by Tauboldy Umbetbayev from the MFA's Consular Department. Kaliyev reiterated his proposal for resolving the Sharp case. He made it clear that he had, in fact, spoken directly with the judge overseeing the case. According to Kaliyev, the judge cannot simply release Sharp, because he was caught with dynamite in a bag, and items found in his apartment "do not conform to his legal status in the country." Nevertheless, the Kazakhstani side is ready to close its eyes to all of this in the spirit of our good bilateral relationship and the fact that Sharp did not have any evil intentions. Kaliyev insisted that we should not worry -- Sharp will not spend any time in jail. He said he had briefed Foreign Minister Tazhin, who agreed with the proposal. Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Sarybay is also in the loop.
7. (C) This proposal is the best option for Sharp to be free to leave the country, Kaliyev insisted. If Sharp wants to, he is welcome to appeal the guilty verdict from the safety of the United States. Kaliyev reassured us that a U.S. consular officer could be present at a closed trial, and said he would check to confirm that Sharp's lawyers could be there too. As Kaliyev envisions it, this would be a very quick affair. Perhaps the judge would just read out the charges, immediately hand down a guilty verdict, and suspend the sentence. Kaliyev refused to speculate on the outcome if the proposal is declined and the case goes to a public trial. Pol-Econ Chief, Consular Chief, and Peace Corp Director made clear to Kaliyev that the final decision about whether to accept the proposal would be Sharp's to make, in consultation with his lawyers.
8. (C) Consular chief and Peace Corps Director told Kaliyev that they had spoken with Sharp's attorneys and understood that it is possible in the Kazakhstani legal system to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Sharp might be willing to plead guilty to trespassing, a crime which carries a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail, if the others charges, including the explosives charge, are dropped. Kaliyev said that there is only so far he can go in interfering in the legal process, but promised to look into the possibility and get back to us with an answer about this alterative by January 27.
9. (C) Peace Corps Director reminded Kaliyev that in his January 21 meeting with Pol-Econ Chief, he had asked about the legal status of the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan. In fact, he explained, Peace Corps has an overall bilateral agreement with the government, and three separate MOUs under it, with the Ministries of Education and Science, Information and Culture, and Trade and Industry. Kaliyev indicated that there are "some in the government" who want to know how long the agreement is valid for, and how Kazakhstan can terminate it. He admitted that in this regard, Sharp's conviction on explosives charges would be a problem for the Peace Corps program in Kazakhstan. However, he stressed that the MFA supports the Peace Corps -- "we believe your people are doing a great job" -- and said that there is no reason to be worried about the future of the Peace Corps "for now."
10. (C) Peace Corps has hired new attorneys for Sharp through the Almaty office of Chadbourne and Parke. They began working on the case on January 22. They believe that the case is very weak and are preparing a vigorous defense. Court proceedings are, for the moment, scheduled to begin on January 28. Peace Corps Director and Consular Chief intend to travel to Ridder on January 26 together with Sharp's lawyers. They will inform Sharp and the lawyers about the government's proposal, as well as the discussion with Kaliyev about a guilty plea to trespassing. Sharp will need to make his own decision about the government's proposal, in consultation with the lawyers. That said, at this juncture, it is clear that the government will not simply make this case go away by deporting Sharp without any trial. If the case goes to trial in an open court, the attendant publicity may make it very unlikely for Sharp to be acquitted or to be convicted and given a suspended sentence. In addition, should Sharp's lawyers be successful in poking holes in the case, the judge might send it back for reinvestigation, causing a delay that could last for months. We hope to hear back from Kaliyev on January 27 about the alternative of a guilty plea to trespassing. Sharp spoke with Peace Corps Director on January 23 following the meeting with Kaliyev and said that the police were in the process of again searching his office and the office of Ak-Em Ridder, the local organization he had previously worked for as a volunteer.
Diplomatic Cable: January 29, 2009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2029 TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER ACCEPTS MFA PROPOSAL TO RESOLVE CRIMINAL CASE, COURT PROCEEDINGS BEGIN
REF: A. ASTANA 0135 B. ASTANA 0055 C. 08 ASTANA 2576 D. 08 ASTANA 2410 (NOTAL)
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland: 1.4 (B), (D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp has accepted the proposal made by MFA Americas Department head Talgat Kaliyev for resolving his criminal case -- specifically, that after a brief closed trial, Sharp will be found guilty, given a suspended sentence, and immediately deported from the country. Court proceedings in the case began in Ridder on January 28, with Consular Chief and Peace Corps Country Director in attendance. After just 30 minutes, the proceedings were adjourned to January 30. Sharp's lawyers believe that the proceedings will be concluded during the week of February 2 (i.e., next week). Consular Chief reported from Ridder that he is relatively comfortable with the current course of events. END SUMMARY.
PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER ACCEPTS MFA PROPOSAL
2. (C) Consular Chief and Peace Corps Country Director traveled to Ridder on January 26, together with the newly-hired lawyers for Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp. They briefed Sharp and the lawyers about the proposal made by MFA Americas Department head Talgat Kaliyev for resolving Sharp's criminal case -- specifically, that after a brief closed trial, Sharp would be found guilty, given a suspended sentence, and immediately deported from the country. Consular Chief and Peace Corps Country Director also told Sharp about the alternative the Embassy proposed to Kaliyev -- i.e., that Sharp would consider pleading guilty to a lesser charge of trespassing, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail, if all the other charges, including the explosives charge, were dropped (see reftel A).
3. (C) Sharp's legal team -- which includes a corporate lawyer from Chadbourne and Parke overseeing the case, a criminal defense attorney, and a former judge from Ust-Kamenogorsk -- explained to Consular Chief and Peace Corps Director that they believe the case against Sharp is weak, and that in a fair, open trial, they would prevail in getting the charges reduced to administrative ones. Sharp's initial reaction was that he preferred the Embassy's plea-bargain alternative over Kaliyev's proposal. Sharp also reported that police from Ust-Kamenogorsk appeared to be investigating a new case against him, connected to "secret" Soviet topographical maps from the 1960s which were found in his apartment.
4. (C) Pol-Econ Chief met on January 27 with Kaliyev, who on this occasion declined to directly address the Embassy's alternative proposal. Instead, he insisted that Sharp should accept his own proposal, promising that there would be nothing to worry about and that everything would be finished within a week or so. Kaliyev, however, left open the possibility that in the end, the judge might not convict Sharp on all the criminal charges. He also made clear that he had directly discussed the case with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and Procurator General's Office. He assured Pol-Econ Chief not to be concerned about the new investigation against Sharp: "That's just part of the game."
5. (C) Pol-Econ Chief relayed the gist of the Kaliyev meeting to Consular Chief, who informed Sharp. On the basis of Kaliyev's reassurances, Sharp agreed to accept Kaliyev's proposal. Pol-Econ Chief immediately informed Kaliyev and asked him to relay the acceptance to all the other relevant parties among the authorities.
COURT PROCEEDINGS BEGIN
6. (C) Court proceedings in Sharp's case began in Ridder on January 28. Somewhat surprisingly, these initial proceedings were not closed to the public. Consular Chief and Peace Corps Country Director attended, along with Sharp and his lawyers. After just 30 minutes, the proceedings were adjourned until January 30. Sharp's lawyers believe the proceedings might continue into the week of February 2, but should not go on any longer than that. They plan on putting into the record all their evidence to counter the procurator's case, but will not file motions that might delay an end to the proceedings. Consular Chief reported from Ridder that he is relatively comfortable with the current course of events. He and Peace Corps Country Director will remain in Ridder to continue attending court sessions.
SHARP MOVED TO HOTEL
7. (C) Sharp has been moved from his residence to the hotel where Consular Chief, Peace Corps Country Director, and the lawyers are staying. This step was taken after police knocked on the door of Sharp's residence very late in the evening on January 27. Sharp will henceforth be accompanied at all times by a lawyer or U.S. Embassy representative, to ensure that there are no opportunities for further provocations against him.
Diplomatic Cable: March 2, 2009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/02/2034 TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER SENTENCED TO PRISON, BUT FM TAZHIN PROMISES SATISFACTORY RESOLUTION
REF: A. ASTANA 0175 B. ASTANA 0135 C. ASTANA 0055 D. 08 ASTANA 2576 E. 08 ASTANA 2410 (NOTAL)
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (S) SUMMARY: Following the conclusion of his criminal trial in Ridder on February 26, Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp was sentenced to two years in prison on explosives charges -- and taken away in handcuffs straight to jail. The Ambassador immediately raised this development with senior Kazakhstani officials, including Foreign Minister Tazhin, explaining that Sharp's imprisonment violated the Kazakhstani government's commitment to us that Sharp would be given a suspended sentence and deported. On February 27, Tazhin promised the Ambassador that through the judicial appeals process, Kazakhstan would follow through on its original commitment within 30 days, so long as we are able to keep the case out of the media. Based on a written request from the Ambassador, a Ridder judge ordered Sharp released from jail on February 27, but denied our request that he be allowed to leave Ridder and travel to Astana. Tazhin made clear to the Ambassador on March 2 that he had had to push back very hard against the Committee for National Security (KNB). He also said the Ambassador should immediately request a meeting with President Nazarbayev to apologize for the incident and express our gratitude that Kazakhstan is resolving it. The Ambassador has been in touch Sharp and with both of his parents. They agreed to keep the case out of the press. Sharp's lawyers are planning to file a formal appeal no later than March 13. END SUMMARY.
SHARP SENTENCED TO PRISON TERM, TAKEN TO JAIL
2. (C) The trial of Peace Corp Volunteer Anthony Sharp resumed in Ridder February 26. A Consular Officer and the Peace Corps Country Director were both present. The proceedings were completed that day, and the judge handed down his verdict, sentencing Sharp to two years in prison on explosives charges. He was taken away in handcuffs for prison in-processing.
AMBASSADOR RAISES CASE WITH SENIOR OFFICIALS
3. (C) The Consular Officer immediately notified the DCM, who in turn informed the Ambassador about the verdict. At that time, the Ambassador was meeting in his office with Presidential Advisor Yermukhamet Yertysbayev. The Ambassador explained the situation to Yertsybayev, who offered to bring it to the attention of other officials in the Presidential Administration. Following the meeting, we drafted a non-paper, translated it into Russian, and sent it to Yertysbayev. The non-paper explained that (1) we consider the case against Sharp to be a political provocation; (2) the verdict violated our understanding with the Kazakhstani government that Sharp would be given a suspended sentence and deported; (3) we would try to keep the verdict out of the U.S. media, but once it hit the press, the news would cause serious damage to the bilateral relationship; and (4) we expected the Kazakhstani government to take immediate steps to rectify the situation and deport Sharp. Just before we e-mailed Yertysbayev the non-paper, he called us to tell us that he had spoken with Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Kairat Sarybay, who assured him that Sharp was not being sent to prison, but rather was being deported. This turned out to be incorrect, since Sharp was, in fact, taken to prison.
4. (C) The DCM phoned Talgat Kaliyev, who until recently was head of the MFA Americas Department, and who had been tasked by Sarybay to handle the Sharp case. Kaliyev had reassured us repeatedly over the past several weeks that everything was fine, and that Sharp would be given a suspended sentence and deported. Kaliyev was surprised to learn of the verdict. When we spoke with him several hours later, he claimed he had "everyone together" in his office, and was working on the issue; however, he was not able to immediately offer an explanation regarding what happened or how the situation would be fixed.
5. (C) At the same time, the Ambassador tried to call Sarybay, whose staff said he was unavailable to take the Ambassador's call. The Ambassador then called State Secretary Saudabayev's Chief of Staff, Roman Vassilenko (with whom we have been in touch about the case since the end of December), relayed the key points from the non-paper, and asked him to inform Saudabayev. Vassilenko promised to speak with Saudabayev as soon as Saudabayev was available. Vassilenko also urged the Ambassador to get in touch with Foreign Minister Tazhin immediately.
6. (C) The Ambassador subsequently managed to reach Tazhin, who was suffering from a bad cold, and relayed to him all the details. He asked Tazhin to call Sarybay immediately, which Tazhin agreed to do. Tazhin also promised to "gather the right people" the following morning and get back to the Ambassador.
TAZHIN PROMISES EVERYTHING WILL BE FIXED
7. (C) Tazhin kept to his word, and called in the Ambassador early afternoon February 27. He told the Ambassador that Sharp would be released from prison as early as that day. He promised the government would follow through on its original commitment -- that Sharp receive a suspended sentence and be deported -- within 30 days, so long as we keep the case out the media. He explained that everything would be fixed through the judicial appeals process, and assured the Ambassador that the Supreme Court was already on board.
8. (S) During a one-on-one conversation, Tazhin explained to the Ambassador that the hardest thing he had had to do in his intergovernmental meeting earlier that day was to push back against with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and "other bodies" -- meaning the Committee for National Security (KNB) -- not on the explosives charges against Sharp, but rather regarding the fact that during a search of Sharp's apartment after his initial detention, the authorities had found a "top secret map, proving that Sharp is an American spy." The Ambassador told Tazhin, simply for his own information, that the map was a Soviet map from the 1960s that Sharp had bought in the bazaar as a souvenir. In a follow-on conversation, Talgat Kaliyev told us the lesson he had learned was "you can't trust those guys (i.e., KNB) to keep their word." The Ambassador subsequently contacted Roman Vassilenko, who assured him that State Secretary Saudabayev had been involved with the case the previous evening and had briefed President Nazarabayev. (NOTE: We strongly suspect it was Nazarbayev himself who reined in the KNB enough to allow Sharp to be released from prison. END NOTE.)
SHARP RELEASED FROM JAIL, BUT CONFINED TO RIDDER
9. (C) Talgat Kaliyev then worked with us to get Sharp out of jail, which, according to Kaliyev, included his phoning Ridder City Court Chairman Bulat Zagiyev. Per Kaliyev's instructions, the Ambassador wrote a letter to Zagiyev requesting that Sharp be released into post's custody, and be allowed to travel to Astana for a medical evaluation. We faxed the letter to Ridder. Several hours later, a court hearing was held to review our request, with Sharp's lawyers and the prosecutors in attendance. The court ordered Sharp released from jail, but denied the request to allow him to travel in Astana, and instead insisted that he move back into his former apartment in Ridder. (NOTE: Because Sharp's landlord is not allowing him to return to the apartment, Sharp's lawyers have filed a motion with the court requesting that he be allowed to stay in the Ridder hotel where he has been residing for the past several weeks. On March 2, Sharp's lawyers appealed the denial of the request to allow him to travel to Astana. Talgat Kaliyev indicated to us that we should not press this latter issue too hard. END NOTE.)
SHARP FAMILY AGREES CASE SHOULD STAY OUT OF MEDIA
10. (C) The Ambassador was in contact with Sharp and both of his parents during February 28 and March 1. He assured them that though he could not provide all the sensitive details, the government had promised to satisfactorily resolve Sharp's case within a month. Sharp and his parents agreed with the necessity of keeping the case out of the media.
TAZHIN RECOMMENDS NAZARBAYEV MEETING
11. (S) Foreign Minister Tazhin called in the Ambassador again on March 2, and reaffirmed that everything remained on track in resolving the Sharp case. He also emphasized several times how "difficult and irritating" his February 27 intra-governmental meeting had been, and recommended the Ambassador request a meeting with President Nazarbayev to discucss the issue. Tazhin explained, "I have my views based on broader foreign relations and the bilateral relationship, but 'others' have other views" -- thus making it clear that Nazarbayev would be the ultimate arbiter. He did not try very hard to hide whom he meant by "others," because he said he understands "them" since he headed "that committee" -- meaning that KNB -- for a time. He also implied the KNB is pushing back because of "the April incident last year." (NOTE: "The April incident" was an ugly provocation against an Embassy AmCit. END NOTE.) Tazhin recommended the Ambassador approach's with Nazarbayev should be that we are deeply sorry and sincerely apologize, and are grateful Kazakhstan is finding a way to solve this problem -- since the "situation gives a bad impression" and we understand that it is in President Nazarbayev's hands to decide.
LAWYERS PLOT APPEAL
12. (SBU) The February 26 verdict has not yet been formally handed down; that formal verdict is expected on March 4. (NOTE: This delay of several days is standard practice for Kazakhstan. END NOTE.) Sharp's lawyers are working the appeal, which they will have to file by March 13. They expect an appellate hearing to take place in the Ust-Kamenogorsk oblast court approximately two weeks after the filing. Appellate hearings in Kazakhstan typically require just one court session.
13. (S) COMMENT: It appears to us that the KNB is pressing back hard, painting Sharp as "one more American spy" they've caught. On our side, it seems, are Tazhin, Saudabayev, and Sarybay. If Nazarbayev agrees to a meeting, the Ambassador will ask him to honor the agreement we have made that will get Sharp out of the country. The Ambassador is scheduled to meet with Presidential Administration head Aslan Musin to discuss the case on March 3. END COMMENT.
Diplomatic Cable: March 3, 2009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/03/2034 TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES PEACE CORPS CASE WITH PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION HEAD MUSIN
REF: A. ASTANA 0373 B. ASTANA 0175 C. ASTANA 0135 D. ASTANA 0055 E. 08 ASTANA 2576 F. 08 ASTANA 2410 (NOTAL)
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (S) SUMMARY: The Ambassador met with Presidential Administration head Aslan Musin on March 3 to discuss the criminal case against Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp. Musin said the case is a small issue and agreed we should avoid it becoming a major bilateral irritant. However, he maintained that Sharp had, in fact, committed violations of the law, and rejected the notion that the case is a political provocation. He nevertheless expressed concern about Sharp's situation - acknowledging that his family must be very worried -- and said he hoped everything works out for him. Several hours after the Musin meeting, the MFA's Talgat Kaliyev requested his own meeting with the Ambassador. Kaliyev told the Ambassador that Foreign Minister Tazhin was upset with the results of the Musin meeting. The Ambassador should not have given Musin non-papers stating we believe Sharp was caught up in a political provocation and that he is innocent of the most serious charges against him, Kaliyev contended. He urged the Ambassador to take a different approach with President Nazarbayev. The Ambassador explained that he met with Musin at the recommendation of another senior official -- State Secretary Saudabayev -- and that it is important Musin is fully briefed because he is close to the President. END SUMMARY.
SHARP CASE IMPORTANT TO BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP
2. (C) The Ambassador met with Presidential Administration head Aslan Musin on March 3 to discuss the case of Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp. The Ambassador briefed Musin on all the latest developments, including his discussions with Foreign Minister Tazhin (Ref A), and provided Musin with two non-papers on the case that we have previously given officials in the Presidential Administration. He explained to Musin that we want the case resolved in accordance with the Kazakhstani government's commitment to us -- i.e., that Sharp be given a suspended sentence and deported -- and avoid having the case become a major irritant in the bilateral relationship, especially at the beginning of a new Administration.
3. (C) Musin thanked the Ambassador for all the information. He said the Sharp case is a small issue, but it nevertheless is important for the bilateral relationship. He agreed we should prevent it from becoming a major problem. However, Musin maintained that according to the Kazakhstani government's information, Sharp has committed violations of the law -- though taking into account the bilateral relationship, a court did issue a decision to release him from jail. Musin said the Ambassador's direct involvement in requesting the release played a big role in the decision to grant it. He said he hoped Sharp's attorneys take all the Ambassador's points into account in their appeal of the verdict, and argued that a lot will depend on the professionalism of the lawyers. Musin emphasized that the case will proceed with strict adherence to Kazakhstani law.
MUSIN REJECTS NOTION OF "POLITICAL PROVOCATION"
4. (S) Musin then noted that our non-papers stated that we believe Sharp was caught up in a political provocation. He stressed that he disagreed with this characterization, saying, "I want you to explain what you mean, because I'm not aware of any political organizations in Kazakhstan that would entrap him." The Ambassador responded that the non-paper was not aimed at criticizing Kazakhstan, that we recognize the importance of all Americans in Kazakhstan following the law, and admit that Sharp committed a legal violation by trespassing into a restricted area. However, the explosives charge against Sharp looks very suspicious to us. The Ambassador stressed that he is not a lawyer and thus does not want to argue the legal details, but said he would be pleased to provide Musin with the transcripts from Sharp's trial -- just like Musin gave us transcripts from another court case (i.e., the trial against Rakhat Aliyev). These transcripts would make clear why we came to our point of view about the Sharp case.
THE FATE OF A HUMAN BEING IS WHAT MATTERS
5. (C) Musin agreed that because neither he nor the Ambassadors are lawyers, there was no need to get into the intricacies of the case; rather, what matters is the fate of a human being, who both sides are concerned about. "I think we need to take advantage of all the possibilities in our law to provide him relief. His family must be worried about him." The Ambassador explained he had personally spoken to Sharp's parents. They are concerned about their son, but agreed with the importance of keeping the case out of the media. He then noted that the Peace Corps will soon be celebrating its 50th anniversary, and explained that there have not been many occasions in the organization's history when a single volunteer commanded such high-level political attention.
6. (S) Musin responded, "I'm very aware of the Peace Corps' mission, and have plenty of information about the organization, from my own personal knowledge and from our organs" -- meaning the Committee for National Security (KNB) -- "and I understand the Peace Corps does noble deeds around the world, but incidents do happen, because people are people, and I don't want to generalize this situation. We are talking specifically about Sharp's fate, and I hope that everything works out for him." "As for bilateral relations," he continued, "they will keep on developing, though lots will depend on how we interpret various incidents. The highest levels of our government do not know of any political organization that wants to harm the bilateral relationship. We recognize the critical role the United States plays in world." Musin added that the Kazakhstani government wants its laws observed not just by its own citizens, but also by foreigners residing in Kazakhstan. The Ambassador said he agreed foreigners must obey local law. He thanked Musin for his personal attention to the case.
TAZHIN UNHAPPY WITH RESULTS OF MUSIN MEETING
7. (S) Approximately two hours after the Musin meeting, the MFA's Talgat Kaliyev phoned to ask that the Ambassador meet with him later in the day. At a late afternoon meeting on March 3, Kaliyev told the Ambassador that Foreign Minister Tazhin was unhappy with the results of the Musin meeting. Kaliyev said there was no reason to have given Musin the non-papers stating we believed the case against Sharp is a provocation, and that he is innocent of the most serious charges. "You should have just expressed your thanks for Musin's assistance, and promised that this won't happen again. This has complicated my own situation. Please don't take this approach with President Nazarbayev." "Musin called me directly," Kaliyev continued, "and asked why the issue of provocation was raised. Maybe he expected to hear something different. It's a question of mentality. This is the kind of thing you can tell me, but not everyone."
8. (C) "I'm not a judge or prosecutor," Kaliyev explained, "I just want to protect the bilateral relationship. Tazhin put me personally in charge of the case. I'm directly in touch with all the officials in Ridder and with Sharp's lawyers. Tazhin yelled at me about what happened today with Musin. I promised him the U.S. Embassy will follow all the appropriate judicial procedures. Please just follow my lead for the next few weeks."
9. (C) The Ambassador responded that he had been asked to meet with Musin by another senior official -- i.e., by State Secretary Saudabayev -- and that he regretted that the Musin meeting might have caused a problem for Tazhin. He also pushed back, noting that we had followed the MFA's guidance all along and had been very surprised when our agreement fell apart and Sharp was sentenced to prison. The Ambassador nevertheless reiterated his thanks for the important role Tazhin played in getting Sharp released from jail. It is important that Musin be briefed on the case too, given that he is close to Nazarbayev, he explained. The Ambassador said his approach with Nazarbayev would of course be different, should Nazarbayev agree to his request for a meeting to discuss the case. (NOTE: As explained in Ref A, Tazhin recommended the Ambassador seek such a meeting with Nazarbayev. END NOTE.)
Diplomatic Cable: March 13, 2009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2034 TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR RECOMMENDS "BE STATESMAN-LIKE" WITH NAZARBAYEV TO RESOLVE PEACE CORPS CASE
REF: A. ASTANA 0381 B. ASTANA 0373 C. ASTANA 0175 D. ASTANA 0135 E. ASTANA 0055 F. 08 ASTANA 2576 G. 08 ASTANA 2410 (NOTAL)
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland: 1.4 (B), (D)
1. (S) SUMMARY: Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Kairat Sarybay called in the Ambassador on March 12 to discuss the criminal case against Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp. He advised the Ambassador it is not "constructive" to describe the case as a "political provocation." He said he would arrange a meeting for the Ambassador with President Nazarbayev to discuss it. He recommended the Ambassador should admit to Nazarbayev that Sharp violated Kazakhstani law and explain that Sharp's action were "unthinking." This approach with the president should ensure a positive resolution of the case, Sarybay said. We believe the fall-out from the Sharp case represents a powerful battle at the top of Kazakhstan's leadership between progressive and regressive forces. Sarybay also asked about the prospects for a visit by Secretary Clinton to Kazakhstan, and floated the idea of proposed a meeting by a senior U.S. official with a senior Iranian official during the Eurasia Media Forum in Almaty in April, which we gently shot down. END SUMMARY.
"UNCONSTRUCTIVE" TO CALL CASE A "PROVOCATION"
2. (S) Presidential Foreign Policy Adviser Kairat Sarybay called in the Ambassador on March 12 to discuss the criminal case against Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp. Magzhen Iliyasov, the seemingly pro-Western director of the Presidential Administration's Foreign Policy Center and President Nazarbayev's personal interpreter, also attended the meeting but did not speak up. Sarybay told the Ambassador, "You asked for my advice, so I'll be very honest. We're dealing with a very specific issue with the Sharp case, but it's growing. My feeling is that any further allegations of a 'political provocation' would not be constructive." Sarybay said that both sides should put the matter behind them, and that the Ambassador should tell President Nazarbayev he regrets that Sharp violated the law but that he did it unthinkingly. "This would create a good environment for us to move forward in accordance with your discussions with Foreign Minister Tazhin," he argued. (NOTE: "Your discussions with Foreign Minister Tazhin" means the understanding the Embassy has had since January that Sharp would go to trial, be convicted, have his sentence suspended, and be deported -- an agreement that broke down on February 26 when Sharp was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. END NOTE.)
3. (S) The Ambassador explained our view of "provocation" had come from the clear and concrete facts of the case -- a bag containing explosives given to Sharp by someone else as he was about to exit the premises of the mine, guards waiting to arrest him when he departed the mine, and false witnesses at his trial. The point in using this term was not to criticize Kazakhstan, and certainly not to imply the President's complicity, but to make fully clear how the U.S. media, Congress, and some in the Administration would view the case if it became public. We have so far successfully persuaded Sharp and his family to keep the case out of the media and to refrain from contacting Members of Congress so that the Kazakhstani government can resolve this case in accordance with its commitments to us. Sarybay responded that the Kazakhstani side is also keeping it out of the press. (NOTE: In fact, this is true. The court case is widely known in Ridder, the site of the original incident, but, remarkably, nothing has appeared in any media outlet in Kazakhstan or in Russia. END NOTE.)
PROMISE TO ARRANGE MEETING WITH NAZARBAYEV
4. (S) The Ambassador said that in a meeting with Nazarbayev to discuss the Sharp case, he would praise Foreign Minister Tazhin for his constructive efforts, explain that he insists all Americans in Kazakhstan must obey local law, admit that we have some differences about the facts of the case but acknowledge that Sharp unthinkingly did wrong in trespassing in a restricted area, and stress that we respect the Kazakhstani court system and wish to move forward with Kazakhstan in the new Obama administration. Sarybay responded, "This wording is good; these statements would not cause any difficulties for us. We'll arrange a meeting with my boss" -- meaning Nazarbayev -- "sooner is better than later." Sarybay said a meeting the following day (March 13) might even be possible. If that did not work, it would be after Nazarbayev's ten-day trip abroad which begins on March 14.
5. (S) Sarybay added, "(Kazakhstani Ambassador to the United States Yerlan) Idrissov, whom Nazarbayev respects, tells me we have great plans and opportunities in the bilateral relationship. President Nazarbayev's January meeting with CENTCOM Commander General Petraeus was a big success. Let's keep the Sharp case low-profile. Just say you regret that the incident occurred and are committed to moving forward with an enhanced bilateral relationship. You'll receive a good response from the boss. I'm sure this kind of conversation with the boss will resolve this matter." The Ambassador responded he would willingly follow through because he could do so with a clear conscience. Sarybay promised to inform FM Tazhin and Presidential Administration head Aslan Musin about his conversation with the Ambassador. He thanked the Ambassador for his understanding and flexibility. To rib Sarybay, the Ambassador responded, "See, I'm not such a bad guy." Sarybay responded, "No, not at all a bad guy, but you are very firm and strong."
PROSPECTS FOR A VISIT BY SECRETARY CLINTON
6. (S) During the less intense part of the meeting, Sarybay asked about the prospects for a visit by Secretary Clinton to Kazakhstan. The Ambassador explained that she had just responded to Tazhin's invitation to attend the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council's Security Forum in Kazakhstan in June, promising that the United States would be represented there. He said it is too early to know about the Secretary's travel schedule in coming months, but believes she would welcome the opportunity to visit Kazakhstan.
"COULD WE PLAY A ROLE WITH IRAN?"
7. (S) Sarybay said that a journalist recently had suggested to him using the Eurasia Media Forum in Almaty in April to arrange a meeting between "a senior U.S. official, perhaps Special Representative Holbrooke, and a senior Iranian official. They could 'unexpectedly' meet in Almaty," Sarybay explained. The Ambassador replied that when Tazhin travels to Washington in May, he might want to raise Kazakhstan's willingness to be helpful with Iran. The Ambassador took pains to make clear that any early U.S. diplomacy with Iran, should it occur, would likely be in very quiet channels. While an "accidental meeting in Almaty at an international event" would not be very realistic, the Ambassador recalled that Henry Kissinger had sealed Nixon's opening to China at secret meetings in Tashkent.
8. (S) COMMENT: From the beginning, we have double-tracked the Sharp case with the Foreign Ministry and with several Presidential advisers, most importantly (and quietly back-channel) with State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev (former Ambassador to the United States and long-standing Nazarbayev confidante), through Saudabayev's Chief of Staff, Roman Vassilenko. We know that for the "agreement" -- Sharp's conviction, suspended sentence, and deportation -- Foreign Minister Tazhin has gone far, far out on a limb for us to do battle with the KNB, which he himself once briefly headed. However, the current KNB chief is President Nazarbayev's former personal bodyguard, whom he is said to trust implicitly. The current fire-storm over the word "provocation" started only after the Ambassador met with Presidential Chief of Staff Aslan Musin on March 3, at the Saudabayev camp's urging. To read him into the issue, and to ensure clarity, we provided him our two non-papers on the Sharp case that had had strictly limited circulation in the Foreign Ministry and at the Presidency. However, with Musin, this was probably the first time we had gotten directly to the President himself, whom, we speculate, probably went ballistic, with the KNB egging him on, over the word "provocation." But Nazarbayev is most certainly no dummy, and he probably keyed in immediately to the fact, which we clearly stated in the first non-paper, that we believe this case has the potential to derail an enhanced U.S.-Kazakhstan relationship in the early days of the Obama Administration. If this case concludes as we desire, and as we have fought for -- and we remain cautiously optimistic that it will -- then we have further evidence that President Nazarbayev himself is fully committed to an enhanced relationship with the United States. END COMMENT.
Diplomatic Cable: April 3, 2009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2034 TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: APPEALS COURT HANDS DOWN SUSPENDED SENTENCE IN PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER CASE
REF: A. ASTANA 0547 (NOTAL) B. ASTANA 0443 C. ASTANA 0381 D. ASTANA 0373 E. ASTANA 0175 F. ASTANA 0135 G. ASTANA 0055 H. 08 ASTANA 2576 I. 08 ASTANA 2410 (NOTAL)
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: On April 3, an Ust-Kamenogorsk appeals court reaffirmed the criminal conviction against Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp -- but, in accordance with the Kazakhstani government's commitment to us, suspended his two-year prison sentence, essentially putting him on probation for two years. Sharp was immediately permitted to travel to Almaty, where he arrived late afternoon on April 3. Sharp's attorneys will request that Sharp be allowed to depart the country. Completing all the procedures for Sharp to do so may take two to three weeks. END SUMMARY.
COURT REAFFIRMS CONVICTION, BUT SUSPENDS SENTENCE
2. (C) An appeals court in Ust-Kamenogorsk, the capital of East Kazakhstan oblast, held an appellate hearing on April 3 regarding the criminal case against Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp, who was convicted on explosives charges on February 26 and sentenced to two years in prison. Sharp attended the hearing, together with his attorneys, Consular Chief, and Peace Corps Country Director.
3. (C) Oral arguments before the three-judge panel lasted 30 minutes, and Sharp made his own very brief statement to the court in which he did not admit any guilt, but essentially apologized for what had happened. After 20 minutes of deliberations, the judges reaffirmed Sharp's conviction as well as a fine against him of 254,600 tenge (approximately $1700), but suspended the prison sentence, effectively putting him on probation for two years. The appeals court's decision also freed Sharp to travel within Kazakhstan. He departed several hours after the ruling by plane for Almaty, arriving there late afternoon April 3. For the interim, Sharp is residing in Almaty with the Peace Corps Country Director.
4. (C) According to Sharp's attorneys, the Ust-Kamenogorsk appeals court has three days to transmit its ruling to the trial court in Ridder. Once the decision is received in Ridder, Sharp will have to travel back there, probably just for a day, to pay his fine. At that time, his attorneys will file a motion to transfer Sharp's probation case to Almaty. After the case is transferred, the attorneys will make a request to the Almaty probation authorities that Sharp be allowed to depart the country. We understand that these procedures may require two to three weeks to complete.
5. (S) COMMENT: With Sharp's suspended sentence, the government has essentially followed through on its commitment to us. We can only presume that President Nazarbayev himself was the decider, siding in the end with Foreign Minister Tazhin and his other liberal advisors -- who understood the damage the case could cause the bilateral relationship -- and against the Committee for National Security (KNB), which likely cooked up this provocation against Sharp in the first place. (See ref A for details on the Ambassador's March 30 discussion of Sharp's case with Nazarbayev.) At this point, we have no reason to believe that there will be any further impediments to Sharp's departure from the country within several weeks. END COMMENT.
US Diplomatic Cable: April 3, 2009
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: LIFE IN A SMALL MINING TOWN
1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for public Internet.
2. (SBU) SUMMARY: PolOff visited Ridder, a mining town in East Kazakhstan oblast March 8-12, and had an opportunity to observe the local socio-economic environment. Close to the Russian and Chinese borders, Ridder seems almost like a living relic of the Soviet Union. There has been little change to the town's infrastructure since Kazakhstan became independent. No new buildings have been built in Ridder, the same mines continue to fuel the city's economy and pollute the environment, and Russian remains the dominant language. The most significant changes since Kazakhstan's independence have been the installation of ethnic Kazakhs in positions of power throughout the city, and the introduction of the market economy, which has led to significant growth in trade with China. Partially as a result in the influx of cheap Chinese goods, Ridder's cost of living is half of that in Astana or Almaty, although low wages outside of mining and high unemployment pose serious economic challenges. Residents told PolOff that the global economic crisis is hitting the city hard. Ridder's inhabitants said they are eager to learn English and interact with foreigners, and many reported that they travel frequently to Russia and China. Overall, most residents of Ridder seem attached to their small border town, but many of PolOff's interlocutors expressed concern about the pollution from mining and metallurgy, on which their city depends. END SUMMARY.
RIDDER: STILL A SOVIET-STYLE CITY
3. (SBU) Ridder is a mining town with a population of 60,000, located in northeastern Kazakhstan near the border with Russia and China. Emphasizing its roots as a Russian and later a Soviet pioneer settlement, many residents still prefer to call the town by its former name, Leninogorsk. In many ways, Ridder seems frozen in time. Mostly Soviet-made "Lada" cars ply streets named after Soviet World War II heroes and giants of Russian literature. Mines and factories belch out smoke. In the center of the city, housing consists mainly of concrete Soviet apartment blocks. In stark contrast to Astana or Almaty, PolOff did not observe any new construction. Most locals still call Ridder's main thoroughfare, Independence Street, by its former name -- Lenin Street. Surrounding Lenin Street is a large, central town-square, with a monument to the many citizens of Ridder who gave their lives during the Great Patriotic War on one side. On the other side is the the Palace of Culture, which, based on old photos in the Ridder City Museum, also appears to have remained unchanged from the Soviet period.
ETHNIC RUSSIANS MAKE UP MOST OF POPULATION...
4. (SBU) The dominant language of conversation in Ridder is Russian -- a reflection of the fact that the overwhelming majority of the population is ethnic Russian. Even store signs, advertisements, and billboards in Kazakh were few compared to what's seen in other parts of Kazakhstan.
5. (SBU) Many interlocutors told PolOff anecdotes emphasizing their close ties to Russia. One Russian woman told PolOff that although she had grown up in East Kazakhstan oblast, and had been to Russia only once to visit a sister who had resettled there, she planned to retire to Russia. "There is too much of a focus on Kazakh ethnicity in Kazakhstan now," she said. A Tatar family told PolOff, "we understand Kazakh, but we don't really like listening to, or speaking, it. We consider ourselves to be ethnic Russian Tatars." Moreover, since there are no universities in Ridder, PolOff's interlocutors said most of Ridder's young people choose to attend university in the Russian cities of Novosibirsk and Tomsk. While there is a Russian Orthodox Church in Ridder, PolOff did not see a single mosque there.
...BUT KAZAKHS DOMINATE THE OFFICIAL STRUCTURES
6. (SBU) Another EmbOff also traveled to Ridder in March, and spent many hours observing local court proceedings. The vast majority of officials in positions of power in the law enforcement and judicial system in Ridder whom EmbOff encountered were ethnic Kazakh -- which stands in stark contrast to the actual demographics of Ridder. Inside the courthouse, the ethnic Kazakh police officers, judges, and clerks addressed each other solely in the Kazakh language, even when an ethnic Russian was participating in the conversation. During the many hours spent in the courthouse, EmbOff did not observe a single ethnic Russian police officer.
POLLUTION -- A SERIOUS PROBLEM
7. (SBU) Despite its small population, the city occupies an entire valley, stretching 20 by 27 kilometers. Local buses require 30 to 40 minutes to travel from one end of the city to the other. The geographical center of Ridder is an electrical station on top of a hill, adjacent to which Communist Youth League volunteers built a park during Soviet times. On one side of the hill is a smaller and wealthier residential community, and on the other side lies the bulk of the city, including several mines, Soviet-era apartment buildings, and the town's commercial center. A local pensioner strolling in the park told PolOff that all the land from Ridder to Ust-Kamenogorsk (i.e., the capital of East Kazakhstan oblast) has been badly polluted by mining and metallurgy. Pointing in the opposite direction, towards the newer residential community nestled in the foothills of the Altai mountains, he said, "The water is better up there, but look at how the trees have been clear-cut." Turning toward the site of another mine, the pensioner said, "They're mining gold and other minerals there. There are gold and minerals under this very mountain, but at least for now we still have this park." PolOff personally observed that the forest on the hill is not very healthy. Without the biodiversity provided by leaving some older trees and ground cover, the many thin trees have grown too close together.
PILLARS OF THE ECONOMY: MINING, TRADE WITH CHINA
8. (SBU) Local interlocutors told PolOff that mines generate almost all of the city's income, and miners make approximately $670 per month. In contrast, in service jobs outside of the mines, it is difficult to earn even $200. Although the facilities of one of Ridder's largest mines looked old, it had a full parking lot, even containing a few Japanese-manufactured SUVs in addition to the Ladas.
9. (SBU) Trade with China is another pillar of the local economy. Out of twelve spontaneous encounters with local citizens, four men were engaged in trade with China, one young couple worked for the army, while others worked at the local nature preserve, the city court, and a store, and as an engineer and a nurse. One woman was unemployed, and one man was a pensioner. Of the four men trading with China, each had their own niche business. One man ran his own small electronics shop in a local mall filled with individual shops. His wares ranged from hearing aids and telephones to computer parts. A second ran a local hotel and the attached Chinese restaurant. His friend was also involved in trade with China, as was a talkative man that PolOff met in a barbershop, although PolOff never found out exactly what they sold. All PolOff's interlocutors doing business with China said that their sales volumes had recently dropped by at least 50 percent since people are cutting back on non-essential spending in the wake of the global economic crisis. Of the four traders, two appeared to be ethnic Russian, and two ethnic Kazakh. The restaurant owner, who employed a non-Russian speaking Han Chinese chef, told PolOff that while local ethnic Kazakh and Uyghur traders sometimes participate in trade, Han Chinese play the key role in cross-border commerce.
EVERYTHING IS CHEAPER IN RIDDER ...
10. (SBU) In keeping with Ridder's low average income and proximity to cheap goods from China, prices for a meal in a restaurant or a haircut were at least 50 percent lower than in Astana. Moreover, most residents told PolOff they buy inexpensive local produce, such as fresh fish, milk, and pickled cucumbers, sold on the streets every morning by elderly ladies supplementing their pensions. In both of Ridder's main markets, local residents were also selling cheap Chinese clothing and shoes, including one middle-aged woman selling shirts, displayed on a clothesline strung between two trees, for only two dollars each.
... BUT A BARBERSHOP CHAT REVEALS PROBLEMS
11. (SBU) PolOff encountered a talkative and outspoken interlocutor in a local barbershop. An ethnic Kazakh gentleman in his late fifties asked numerous questions about the financial crisis including, "Why did the crisis start?," "How long does America intend to allow its financial problems to affect the rest of the world?," and "How will America resolve the crisis?" Drawing a middle-aged female customer into the conversation, PolOff's interlocutor complained about Ridder's poor economy and how many people were out of work. The elderly gentleman, who said he was employed buying and selling various goods from China, blamed the financial crisis on Kazakhstan's leadership, saying "Our economists in the capital in Astana, what were they thinking when they made their budgets? They expected to get $90 per barrel of oil, but we can only get $45 now. And we can't even complain. If I say anything, I'll get hauled off by the police. Everything here is 'without limits.' This morning, I was a little bit drunk, and the police called me over to check my documents, and they took everything I had as a bribe."
12. (SBU) The man recollected that during the Soviet era, he had listened to American rock music, hoping for the freedom it represented. "We were deceived, though," he complained. "We thought that when the Soviet Union fell, we would have democracy -- but now, you see what we have? It's not democracy, but it's not stable either. The old days of having nothing to buy are gone, but so are our jobs. We have everything we could want to buy now, but there is not enough work, and everything costs a lot of money."
POSITIVE ASPECTS OF SMALL TOWN LIFE...
13. (SBU) Many of Ridder's young people told PolOff that despite the bad economy, they wouldn't want to leave, since the area has mountains ideal for enjoying year-round outdoor activities. PolOff observed that stores were filled with sporting gear and young people were indulging in all sorts of winter sports. Interlocutors also told PolOff that boxing matches pack in large crowds, while on a Sunday evening, a local hotel's billiards parlor was filled with loud music and patrons partying into the early morning hours. Despite our observations of possible ethnic divisions, particularly in the local administration, Ridder still appears to be a harmonious and low-crime environment, especially in comparison with large cities like Almaty and Astana. Children were playing unattended, residents were strolling the streets at all hours of the day and night, and PolOff personally observed two young ethnic Kazakh youths helping an old ethnic Russian woman across the main street.
14. (SBU) For those interested in English, PolOff's interlocutors praised the role of the Peace Corps in providing Ridder's youth with opportunities to develop their English. PolOff observed that residents gathered every Sunday in the local library to practice English with all the foreigners in town. PolOff also met with three families who had hosted Peace Corps volunteers, all of whom said that the Peace Corps Program is critical to helping the people of Ridder. One local resident, who sold fish out of a container truck in the local market, reminisced at length about her close personal relationship with the young woman who had lived with her family. She said that it was because of this experience that her son, who is studying English and Chinese in Ust-Kamenogorsk, already speaks excellent English, and had even interpreted for an ambassador visiting the region.
... BUT MANY DOWNSIDES TOO
15. (SBU) Despite palpable pride in their community, PolOff's various interlocutors also voiced concerns about the economy, pollution, and social problems in Ridder. Serious mining accidents reportedly occur almost every month. Residents told PolOff they are very concerned about pollution associated with the mining and metallurgical industries. They also told PolOff that there are many "sudden deaths" of young male residents in their twenties and thirties, which may be related to cases of alcohol-poisoning, although local residents attributed the deaths to heart-disease and cancer (sic). Perhaps exacerbated by economic hard times, alcoholism appears to be a major problem in Ridder, which is also the case elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. EmbOff observed several instances of daytime public drunkenness in Ridder, mostly before noon.
16. (SBU) COMMENT: The opportunities and challenges of life in small towns like Ridder speak volumes about how Kazakhstan and its citizens are struggling to expand its economy, protect its environment, deal with changes in ethnic relations, and balance the influence of its powerful neighbors, especially China and Russia. The global economic crisis appears to be negatively affecting even people living in relatively isolated towns such as Ridder. Many residents share the Russian view that the crisis is of American origin, and look to the United States to end it. These sentiments, however, do not appear to have translated into any evident bitterness against the United States. For residents of Ridder, especially for its ethnic Russians, relations with Russia remain close. The local populace also appears to have grudging respect and cautious optimism about relations with China. END COMMENT.
Diplomatic Cable: April 8, 2009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/08/2034 TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR SARYBAY SAYS AHMADINEJAD WELCOMED OBAMA,S PRAGUE SPEECH
REF: A. ASTANA 0601 B. ASTANA 0557 C. STATE 31102 D. ASTANA 0547 (NOTAL)
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)
1. (S) SUMMARY: On April 8, Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Kairat Sarybay gave the Ambassador a readout of President Nazarbayev's April 6 meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Sarybay said that Ahmadinejad appeared to welcome President Obama's April 5 Prague speech. Ahmadinejad maintained that he had taken the first step, by writing a letter to Obama. The Kazakhstanis believe that U.S. cooperation with Iran in Afghanistan could lead to cooperation in other areas. Sarybay explained that Nazarbayev's March 30 comment to the Ambassador that Kazakhstan could provide a "logistical base" for Afghanistan meant that Kazakhstan could be a storage location and source for supplies to the Coalition, in addition to being a transit country. The Ambassador raised ref C demarche requesting specific Kazakhstani contributions to Afghanistan; Sarybay promised to review the request. Sarybay recommended remaining in close touch with the MFA about the case of Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp. END SUMMARY.
AHMADINEJAD APPEARED TO WELCOME PRAGUE SPEECH
2. (S) On April 8, Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Kairat Sarybay gave the Ambassador a readout of President Nazarbayev's April 6 meeting in Astana with Iranian President Ahmadinejad. (NOTE: See ref A for State Secretary Saudabayev's readout of the meeting. END NOTE.) Sarybay explained, "It was interesting to speak with Ahmadinejad. He'll most probably be re-elected, but he was modest about it, saying 'Let's see what the Iranian people will do.'" According to Sarybay, the Kazakhstanis were worried that Ahmadinejad would misuse his Astana visit as a platform "for other claims" (NFI, but likely this means inappropriate public statements or outbursts), but this didn't come to pass.
3. (S) Sarybay said that Ahmadinejad welcomed efforts to increase Kazakhstan-Iran trade -- including Kazakhstani wheat exports to Iran -- and to develop the necessary transport infrastructure for this. It was the Iranian side, he explained, that had proposed building a railway from western Kazakhstan through Turkmenistan to Iran. There are also plans to build a roadway parallel to the rail line, Sarybay added, looking a little skeptical.
4. (S) Sarybay said that while he would not describe Ahmadinejad as "very optimistic," he nevertheless appeared to welcome President Obama's April 5 Prague speech. According to Sarybay, Ahmadinejad said, "I took the first step, despite domestic pressure. I wrote to Obama. We are ready (NFI)." Explaining that while Ahmadinejad was cautious, Sarybay nevertheless read the situation as "promising," though perhaps not leading to immediate negotiations. The Kazakhstanis asked Ahmadinejad whether both sides -- the United States and Iran -- are ready for a meeting between the Secretary and Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki. "Ahmadinejad turned to Mottaki and asked, 'Are you ready?'; Mottaki silently shook his head yes." Nazarbayev and Ahmadinejad agreed that Kazakhstan and Iran need to be more involved in Afghanistan. "If the United States and the West can cooperate more with Iran in Afghanistan, this should lead to more cooperation in other areas, including non-proliferation, and all the countries in the region will benefit," Sarybay argued to the Ambassador.
NUCLEAR FUEL BANK
5. (C) Sarybay noted that during the Ahmadinejad visit, Nazarbayev had announced Kazakhstan's offer to host the Nuclear Threat Initiative's IAEA-supervised international nuclear fuel bank. The Ambassador explained that he had discussed the issue with State Secretary Saudabayev on April 7 (ref A). He said the United States welcomes the proposal in principle, and that we are in the process of providing Saudabayev with our formal response.
CLARIFICATION OF "LOGISTICAL BASE" REMARKS
6. (C) The Ambassador asked Sarybay to clarify a remark from his March 30 meeting with Nazarbayev, when Nazarbayev said that Kazakhstan could provide a "logistical base" for Afghanistan (see refs A and B). Sarybay said that as far as he understood, this meant that Kazakhstan could be a storage location and source for supplies for the Coalition in Afghanistan, in addition to being a transit country. He admitted that Nazarbayev had been thinking out loud when he suggested this concept.
SPECIFIC CONTRIBUTIONS TO AFGHANISTAN
7. (C) Per ref C, the Ambassador raised with Sarybay the U.S. government's Afghanistan-Pakistan strategic review, and provided him with non-papers on the review and our request to Kazakhstan for specific contributions to Afghanistan. The Ambassador explained that we would also be raising this issue with the MFA. Sarybay promised to review the request.
ANTHONY SHARP CASE
8. (C) The Ambassador thanked Sarybay for his advice regarding the criminal case against Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp, explaining he had had a good conversation with Nazarbayev about it on March 30 (ref D). Sarybay asked whether the matter is now closed. The Ambassador responded that we are just waiting for the courts to finish the paperwork, and then we hope Sharp will be able to depart the country. Sarybay recommended remaining in close touch with the MFA about the case.
Diplomatic Cable: June 8, 2009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/08/2034 TAGS
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES BILATERAL RELATIONS, BN-305 FUNDING, SHARP CASE WITH PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR SARYBAY
REF: A. STATE 56723 B. STATE 54767 C. ASTANA 0956 D. ASTANA 0957
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (S) SUMMARY: On June 5, the Ambassador delivered demarches on a possible Kazakhstani arms sale to Syria and on U.S.-Russian discussions on the transit of lethal supplies to Afghanistan to Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Kairat Sarybay (see reftels), and briefed Sarybay on his recent visit to Washington, upcoming high-level U.S. visits to Astana, the BN-350 plutonium reactor decommissioning program, the case of Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp, and President Obama's June 4 speech in Cairo. The Ambassador also handed Sarybay a copy of a letter from him to President Nazarbayev, thanking Nazarbayev for Kazakhstan's ratification of the Cooperative Threat Reduction umbrella agreement. After the Ambassador raised all of his agenda items, Sarybay said he had "one small request" and asked whether the United States had delivered a demarche on the Rakhat Aliyev case to the government of Austria. The Ambassador unequivocally denied that such a demarche had taken place, and said the U.S. government has no interest in becoming involved in the dispute between Aliyev and President Nazarbayev. END SUMMARY.
CONSULTATIONS AND CONFERENCES
2. (C) Sarybay met the Ambassador in his office, a modest room in the regal Presidential Administration building. Daulet Kussainov, a young diplomat who had just returned from four years in Brussels, served as Sarybay's notetaker. The Ambassador told Sarybay that he had just returned from consultations in Washington, and said he hoped that Foreign Minister Tazhin was pleased with the results of his visit to Washington. The Ambassador informed Sarybay that EUR Assistant Secretary Gordon would likely lead the U.S. delegation to the June 24-25 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Security Forum event in Astana. Sarybay immediately responded, "But we were expecting (Under Secretary) Burns to visit."
UPCOMING HIGH-LEVEL VISITS
3. (C) The Ambassador explained that Under Secretary Burns would prefer to visit Astana immediately following the July 7-8 Medvedev-Obama summit in Moscow, in order to provide an immediate readout of the summit directly to Kazakhstani officials. Furthermore, the Ambassador said, if U/S Burns were to visit during the EAPC Security Forum, his schedule and his message would be crowded and constrained by the demands of the conference. Sarybay said he understood, but he also told the Ambassador that a meeting with President Nazarbayev on July 9 might be "difficult," because President Nazarbayev usually takes vacation immediately following the annual Astana Day celebrations on July 6. Nevertheless, Sarybay said he would discuss the issue with "my boss" (President Nazarbayev) and hoped a meeting could be arranged. The Ambassador thanked Sarybay and informed him of two other upcoming, high-level visits in July -- by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen (mid-July) and CENTCOM Commander General Petraeus (late July). Sarybay said he would try to schedule meetings for them with President Nazarbayev and called the previous meeting with General Petraeus "very productive and fruitful."
COOPERATIVE THREAT REDUCTION AND THE BN-350 PROGRAM
4. (C) The Ambassador thanked Sarybay for his government's leadership and partnership on nuclear nonproliferation issues, particularly President Nazarbayev's decision on June 2 to sign legislation ratifying the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Umbrella Agreement. The Ambassador handed Sarybay a copy of a letter from him to President Nazarbayev thanking Nazarbayev for signing the legislation, and said the original would be sent via a Diplomatic Note. The Ambassador then said the United States appreciated the Kazakhstani government's commitment to fund part of the BN-350 program to ensure the safe transportation and storage of spent fuel from the decommissioned plutonium breeder reactor. He told Sarybay that Minister of Economy Sultanov had informed him that $5 million for the program was available in 2009 via extra budgetary reserves, and that Ministry of Energy Mynbayev simply had to request the funds through the proper channels. Unfortunately, however, the Ministry of Energy's subsequent request for funding was denied. The Ambassador delivered a non-paper to Sarybay on the subject and asked for his assistance in securing the necessary funding. Sarybay said he would look into the matter and joked, "You seem to know better than me and Minister Mynbayev what is in our budget reserves!"
PEACE CORPS CASE
5. (C) The Ambassador thanked Sarybay for his assistance and discretion in expediting the resolution of the ongoing case of Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp, who was convicted of unlawful possession of industrial explosives on February 26. Sarybay told the Ambassador that "there is a real political intention to solve this case. We hope that you can see that our bureaucracy handled the issue properly. No one can say that Kazakhstan is not running according to the rule of law." While carefully stating that he did not expect there to be any quid pro quo, Sarybay said that, in light of Kazakhstan's assistance with the Sharp case, if Kazakhstani citizens living in the United States find themselves in similar circumstances in the future, "we hope that they will be treated fairly." Sarybay also told the Ambassador that some influential members of the government had wanted to require the U.S. Attorney General to send a letter to Kazakhstan's Procurator General, requesting assistance with Sharp's case. Sarybay, however, said that he had argued successfully against that, saying it would be an additional precondition for Sharp's release and would come as a surprise to the U.S. government. Sarybay suggested that the Ambassador draft a thank you letter to Foreign Minister Tazhin that would thank the government for its support and cooperation and note that "everything was done properly and correctly" concerning the case. The Ambassador said he already had a draft thank-you letter prepared and would send it as soon as Sharp left Kazakhstan. (NOTE: On June 3, the appellate court in Ust-Kamenogorsk accepted the procurator's motion to reduce Sharp's sentence to "time served" and a fine (which he has already paid). Barring any additional bureaucratic hurdles, we expect Sharp to depart Kazakhstan on June 11. END NOTE).
PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SPEECH WELL RECEIVED
6. (C) The Ambassador asked Sarybay if he or President Nazarbayev had had time to read the President's speech in Cairo. Sarybay said he had delivered the text of the speech to President Nazarbayev on June 4 and President Nazarbayev was looking forward to reading it. (NOTE: On June 8, the Presidential Administration released the following statement from President Nazarbayev: "In his speech in Cairo, President Obama demonstrated his willingness to build understanding and rapport with the Muslim world. I am encouraged by this constructive engagement by the U.S. President. Kazakhstan looks forward to continuing its efforts to strengthening political, economic, and cultural cooperation with the United States. There is a stark distinction between leaders who pursue violence and engender fear and those thoughtful leaders who are willing to engage in an effort to make the world safer, freer, and more prosperous. In his speech, President Obama made it clear that he understands that distinction well, and I am encouraged by the invitation to join him." END NOTE).
ONE FINAL REQUEST
7. (C) Just as the meeting adjourned, Sarybay said he had "one small request" for the Ambassador. He said, "We have information that the United States delivered a demarche or a diplomatic note on the Rakhat Aliyev case to the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vienna. Is that true?" The Ambassador strongly and unequivocally denied that the U.S. government delivered any such demarche and said the U.S. government has no interest in becoming involved in the dispute between Aliyev and President Nazarbayev. Sarybay waited one full second, then smiled and thanked the Ambassador for taking the time to pay him a visit.
Diplomatic Cable: June 16, 2009
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2034 TAGS:
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: LEGAL PROCEEDINGS IN PEACE CORPS CASE OVER, VOLUNTEER DEPARTS COUNTRY
REF: (A) ASTANA 0983 (B) ASTANA 0592 (C) ASTANA 0547 (NOTAL) (D) ASTANA 0443 (E) ASTANA 0381 (F) ASTANA 0373 (G) ASTANA 0175 (H) ASTANA 0135 (I) ASTANA 0055 (J) 08 ASTANA 2576 (K) 08 ASTANA 2410 (NOTAL)
Classified by: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (S) SUMMARY: Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp departed Kazakhstan on June 13, after an appellate court vacated his two-year probation at the Prosecutor General's request. Sharp's departure ends an affair that began on November 26, when he was arrested in what appeared to be a classic Soviet-style set-up, likely orchestrated by the pro-Russian old-guard at the Committee for National Security (KNB) and aimed at discrediting the Peace Corps and damaging bilateral relations. Over the course of more than six months, the Ambassador repeatedly raised Sharp's case with senior government officials, including with President Nazarbayev on March 30. Though there were a number of bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, the case moved slowly toward resolution following the Nazarbayev meeting. Keeping everything out of the media was critical to the successful outcome. END SUMMARY.
PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER DEPARTS KAZAKHSTAN
2. (C) Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp left Kazakhstan on June 13, following the completion of all legal proceedings against him, and official confirmation from the Kazakhstani government that it had no objections to his departure.
3. (C) On April 3, an Ust-Kamenogorsk appeals court upheld the criminal conviction against Sharp on explosives charges, but suspended his two-year prison sentence, putting him on probation for two years (ref B). Following that ruling, we worked with Sharp's attorneys and the government to identify a legal avenue for him to depart Kazakhstan immediately, rather than at the end of the probation period. On the advice of Talgat Kaliyev, advisor to Foreign Minister Tazhin and the MFA's point-person on the Sharp case, we sent the MFA a diplomatic note on April 13 requesting the government confirm it had no objections to Sharp's departure. Kaliyev subsequently told us that the MFA was on board with the departure, but working-level officials at other agencies, including the Prosecutor General's Office, were reluctant to make any decision on the issue. On May 21, the Charge raised Sharp's case with Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Kairat Sarybay, who had been involved from the beginning. He expressed surprise that Sharp was still in Kazakhstan, but apparently intervened to get the bureaucracy to resolve the case within the limitations of Kazakhstani law. Sarybay reaffirmed the government's "political will" to bring about a final resolution during a June 5 meeting with the Ambassador (ref A).
4. (C) On June 3, a prosecutor filed a motion with the Ust-Kamenogorsk appeals court recommending Sharp's sentence be reduced to time served -- i.e., one night in jail. The court granted the motion, vacating Sharp's two-year probation. Sharp's attorneys then obtained the necessary documentation confirming that there were no further restriction's on Sharp's travel, and on June 12, the MFA called us in to hand us their response diplomatic note to our April 13 note, confirming that there were no impediments to Sharp's departure. Sharp left Kazakhstan on June 13. The Ambassador sent a letter to Foreign Minister Tazhin on June 16 thanking him for his assistance on the case.
A SOVIET-STYLE PROVOCATION
5. (S) As reported in reftels, on November 26, just days before the end of his Peace Corps tour, Sharp accepted an invitation from two Kazakhstani citizens, including his local counterpart, to take a late-night tour of a gold mine near the town of Ridder. Upon exiting the mine, one of the locals gave Sharp his bag to hold while he climbed back over the security fence. Local authorities were waiting, and promptly arrested Sharp, claiming that the bag contained industrial explosives. The incident had all the makings of a Soviet-style set-up, engineered by the pro-Moscow old guard in the Committee for National Security (the KNB, successor to the KGB), and aimed at discrediting the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan and at damaging U.S.-Kazakhstan relations at a time when Kazakhstan's leadership saw the election of President Obama as an opportunity to enhance its relationship with the United States.
6. (S) The Ambassador raised Sharp's case in December and January with State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev (refs H and I) and with Sarybay (ref G), stressing that we believed it was a provocation, and urging that the government intervene at the highest levels to have it dismissed and to have Sharp deported from the country. The police concluded their investigation on January 14, and charges were brought against Sharp for illegal possession of explosives. Kaliyev informed us on January 21 that he had worked out an arrangement with the relevant government agencies: If Sharp agreed to a closed trial and we all kept the case out of the media, Sharp would be convicted, but given a suspended sentence and immediately deported. Sharp accepted the deal, but the government failed to live up to its bargain. After a month long-trial which ended on February 26, a judge convicted Sharp on the explosives charges and sentenced him to two years in prison. He was immediately taken off to jail, but was released the following day after the Ambassador got Foreign Minister Tazhin to intervene.
7. (S) Tazhin made clear that the KNB and Ministry of Internal Affairs had pushed back and were pressing their view that Sharp was an "American spy." He nevertheless promised that on appeal, the case would be resolved in accordance with the earlier agreement. It appeared, however, that President Nazarbayev would himself make the final decision. Sarybay arranged a meeting for the Ambassador with Nazarbayev on March 30, where the Ambassador expressed regret that Sharp had trespassed at the mine, but conveyed our hope we could put the case behind us and move forward on enhancing the bilateral relationship (ref C). Though there were a number of bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, the case moved slowly toward resolution following the Nazarbayev meeting.
8. (S) COMMENT: Though the case took months to resolve, our confidence that Nazarbayev would do the right thing in end was not misplaced. He was likely the decider, siding with his more progressive advisors, like Tazhin and Sarybay, and against the KNB, to protect the bilateral relationship and thus maintain his long-standing policy of balancing Kazakhstan's relations with Russia, China, and the United States. Key to the successful resolution of the case was keeping it out of the media -- enabling the Kazakhstanis to avoid the political embarrassment of trying to explain the provocation publicly and allowing them to back down and let Sharp go free. END COMMENT.
Read the story of Peace Corps Volunteer Anthony Sharp on "Peace Corps Online" at: http://peacecorpsonline.org/messages/messages/467/4004545.html
Read background material on the Peace Corps' departure from Kazakhstan in 2011 at http://peacecorpsonline.org/messages/messages/467/4004475.html
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER IN LEGAL TROUBLE, BUT OK FOR NOW" December 9, 2008
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: FOLLOW-UP ON RAKHAT ALIYEV, PEACE CORPS CASE, NORTHERN DISTRIBUTION NETWORK" December 12, 2008
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: DINNER WITH STATE SECRETARY SAUDABAYEV" December 31, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: STATE SECRETARY DECLINES TO INTERVENE IN PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER'S CASE" January 12, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: Ministry of Foreign Affairs PROPOSES DEAL ON PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER CASE ENTAILING CONVICTION AND DEPORTATION " January 23, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER ACCEPTS Ministry of Foreign Affairs PROPOSAL TO RESOLVE CRIMINAL CASE, COURT PROCEEDINGS BEGIN " January 29, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER SENTENCED TO PRISON, BUT FM TAZHIN PROMISES SATISFACTORY RESOLUTION" March 2, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES PEACE CORPS CASE WITH PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION HEAD MUSIN " March 3, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR RECOMMENDS "BE STATESMAN-LIKE" WITH NAZARBAYEV TO RESOLVE PEACE CORPS CASE" March 13, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: APPEALS COURT HANDS DOWN SUSPENDED SENTENCE IN PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER CASE " April 3, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: LIFE IN A SMALL MINING TOWN" April 3, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR SARYBAY SAYS AHMADINEJAD WELCOMED OBAMA,S PRAGUE SPEECH" April 8, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES BILATERAL RELATIONS, BN-305 FUNDING, SHARP CASE WITH PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR SARYBAY " June 8, 2009
US Diplomatic Cable "SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: LEGAL PROCEEDINGS IN PEACE CORPS CASE OVER, VOLUNTEER DEPARTS COUNTRY " June 16, 2009
Email correspondence with Peace Corps Volunteer Tony Sharp who has had an opportunity to review this article prior to its publication. December 2011.
Profile of Peace Corps Volunteer Tony Sharp. Peace Corps Wiki.
US State Department. Biography of Richard E. Hoagland.
Peace Corps Welcome Book for Kazakhstan. United States Peace Corps.
US Embassy in Kazakhstan. "Ambassador Richard Hoagland's Inteview with Peace Corps Newsletter, "Vesti"" April 7, 2009.
"Sexual Assaults and Terrorism Are Factors Leading Peace Corps to Suspend Program in Kazakhstan" by Hugh Pickens. Peace Corps Worldwide. November 18, 2011.
"Peace Corps Suspends Program in Kazakhstan " Peace Corps Press Release. November 18, 2011.
"Peace Corps to quit Kazakhstan in Central Asia" by Peter Leonard. Associated Press. November 18, 2011.
"US Peace Corps quits Kazakhstan" by By James Kilner, Almaty. The Telegraph. November 18, 2011.
Kazakhstan Peace Corps Volunteer "Adventures in Kazakhstan" writes: Sudden Departure.... November 17, 2011.
Kazakhstan RPCV "Nomadic Development" writes: A Eulogy to Peace Corps Kazakhstan November 18, 2010