Central Asia: April 23, 2002


Kazak State Secretary and Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev told his parliament on 22 April that Kazakhstan will make its airstrips available "in exceptional cases" to aircraft involved in the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan. Refueling was specifically mentioned.

However, Kazakhstan has it's own problems with terrorists, like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The same day, a home-made explosive device was found near the highway in Astana, which is often used by President Nazarbayev while traveling to his residence. The bomb was within three meters of the roadbed, near Astana's Eurasian University and was defused at the scene by the Arystan special unit. 

The five former Soviet Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan are largely secular after 70 years of Soviet rule, and their leaders feel deeply threatened by the possible spread of Islam from Afghanistan and Iran. 

Kazakhstan has expressed its willingness to support the anti- terrorist operation in Afghanistan from the outset without bargaining for any benefits, in particular financial.

Meanwhile, Russia announced plans to relocate all its military satellite launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome in the ex-Soviet republic of Kazakhstan on the 16th, to its own launch pad at the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia. About three-fourths of all Russian spacecraft and more than half of its military satellites are launched from Baikonur. - Adam Geibel


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