National Revolt in Kazakhstan

National Revolt in Kazakhstan

Over the past two days there have been mass protests, and talk of revolution in the central Asian Country of Kazakhstan. This Article will aim to give readers a very general idea of the situation as of January Fifth 2022.

Introduction

Over the past two days there have been mass protests, and talk of revolution in the central Asian Country of Kazakhstan. This Article will aim to give readers a very general idea of the situation as of January Fifth 2022.

Kazakhstan is an OPEC nation, as such it is a mass producer of Oil, and has mass reserves. A large portion of the nation’s economy is dependent on oil production and consequently its continued export to neighbors. Around 90% of vehicles in Kazakhstan depend on this gas but its average market price is not affordable for most workers. As such Kazakhstan has subsidized the price of gas domestically for years. These subsidies have, in the past, kept prices low (around 50-60 Tenge) but this has been at the cost of Kazakh Oil Capital.

These price control mechanisms are manageable for Kazakh Oil Capital and as such there has been a lack of upkeep investment of factories and domestic supply lines. Due to these price controls, selling domestically is not very profitable. So we not only see lack of upkeep investment, but also low wages for oil workers. In response to this, in 2011 oil workers in Zhanaozen called a strike.

Zhanaozen Oil Strike

In 2011 in response to poor wages and working conditions oil workers in the city of Zhanaozen began a strike to improve their situation. This caused oil shortages and civil unrest in other areas of the nation. In response to the strike the state cracked down severely on workers. Commonly known as the Zhanaozen Massacre, 70+ were killed by cops, 500+ injured, and many more, including main trade unionists, were arrested and tortured at the hands of the state.

In the following years there has been much debate domestically and internationally over the massacre. International union organizations and the United Nations have called for an independent investigation of the massacre, consequently these calls have been ignored by the state. Instead the state arrested some police officers and charged them for “exceeding legal powers”, as opposed to murder. The families of these rank and file officers, and international organizations, have questioned this verdict.

It should be noted that many in the Kazakh state are considered Oligarchs due to their vast control of industry, including state industries. These Oligarchs have also actively privatized state industries by selling ownership to western companies (specifically within the oil industry by Bulat Utemuratov).

This incident shows us that the state deems it necessary to sustain oil capital, whether it be state owned or private, even if it comes at the cost of brutal suppression, torture, etc. These tactics of suppression, torture, and media blackouts are frequently utilized by the Kazakh state as a means of oppression.

Current Situation

As Oil production is necessary for the Kazakh economy, and consequently state, the decision has been made to begin regular market trading of Oil at market prices, by means of removing price control subsidies. This transition began on the first day of 2022, and has caused gas to jump from 50-60 Tenge to 120-tenge overnight. In response to this sudden price increase the masses have gone out to the street in anger.

This uprising originally began in Zhanaozen, but has rapidly spread to other cities, including the capital Nur-Sultan, and the economic capital Almaty. Initially the state did not intervene to lower prices and consequently the revolt continued to spread, and broaden its demands. In response to this the Energy Minister Magzum Mirzagaliyev stated that price fixing would be re-implemented and loan programs would be set up for those hardest hit. Despite this statement lowering gas prices the cabinet resigned and the civil unrest has spread rapidly. This revolt has taken the form of attacking armed men of the state, seizing national airports (causing bourgeoise, including the oligarchs, to flee in their private jets), the general destruction of instruments of labor (shops, buildings, commodities, etc.), and the burning of state buildings. In response to this a national state of emergency has been declared and the president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has convinced the CSTO to conquer the people.

As it stands, on January Fifth 2022 the situation is uncertain. The development of this revolt has yet to become organized or take a coherent form, it is truly the textbook definition of spontaneous, and as such it is not of my belief that this is a NATO revolution as it currently stands. But it is certain that the revolt is no longer solely about gas prices, but rather aims for more political freedoms, wage increases, and weakening of oligarchs, among other things. This situation is rapidly developing and broad conclusions of the nature of this revolt cannot be reached so prematurely, as such it is imperative that we educate ourselves on the condition of the Kazakh workers and monitor their active fight for eventual liberation, whether that liberation be now or at a later date.

References:

https://libcom.org/blog/striking-workers-slaughtered-kazakhstan-16122011

https://libcom.org/news/kazakhstan-who-ordered-killings-tortures-13122015

https://www.dailysabah.com/business/energy/who-is-to-blame-in-oil-rich-kazakhstans-major-gas-price-hike

https://www.occrp.org/en/the-pegasus-project/trust-no-one-top-kazakh-oligarchs-and-dozens-of-government-officials-may-have-been-spied-on-with-pegasus

Posted By

Andrew Heggie
Jan 5 2022 23:59

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  • "it is imperative that we educate ourselves on the condition of the Kazakh workers and monitor their active fight for eventual liberation, whether that liberation be now or at a later date."

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Entdinglichung
Jan 6 2022 10:17

from the Trotskyist ISA, think that they have a small group in Kazakhstan:

https://internationalsocialist.net/en/2022/01/workers-in-struggle

Quote:

Protests against price rises which started on 1 January in Mangystau, West Kazakhstan rapidly spread across the country with demonstrations now reported in Zhanaozen, Aktau, Aktobe, Taraz, Chimkent, Karaganda, Uralsk and the capital Astana, now renamed Nur-Sultan.

Overnight, following a demonstration of thousands in the central “Republic Square” of Almaty, the country’s largest city buzzed to the sound of stun grenades and militarised police vehicles. There are reports of shots being fired at protestors, possibly with rubber bullets in at least two cities. One video from Almaty shows armoured personnel carriers retreating from protestors, whilst in Aktau there are reports of riot police joining the protesters.

Just yesterday evening 4 January Kazakhstan President Kasym-Zhomart Tokaev addressed the country calling for “reason”, and warning people not to support “provocateurs” or “extremists”. By dawn today 5 January he announced that he had ordered the whole government to resign, appointing former Deputy Premier Alikhan Smailov as acting Premier, and two leaders of the Committee for National Security (KNB) as Deputy Premier and State Secretary. At the same time, he declared a two-week State of Emergency over large parts of the country, including Almaty and the oil and gas regions of Mangystau.

The internet, telegram and social networks have been closed down over the country.

For months now the Mangystau region has been the scene of strikes by different groups of oil workers. This region has perhaps the strongest tradition of militant workers’ movement across the whole of the former Soviet Union following the seven-month strike of oil workers, which was brutally suppressed ten years ago.

The last straw which led to a generalised protest in Mangystau was the announcement for the New Year that gas prices would double from 60 to 120 tenge (11/22 eurocents) a litre. This more than angered those living in the region as it is they who pump the gas from the ground. As initially the regional government refused to meet the demand, protesters started to demand a doubling of wages as, they pointed out, the prices of all essential goods, utilities and taxes were increasing rapidly whilst the ruling elite were increasing their already obscene wealth.

Once it became clear that the authorities were not going to meet the demands, the demonstrations grew and spread across the region, and then the country. The main railway line to the West has been blockaded, and flights from Almaty airport cancelled.

There are many reports now that younger protesters in particular have radicalised and are now shouting “Shal, ket!” — “Grandad — go!”. This demand gets to the real root of the post-Soviet regime as it is directed at Nursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned as President last year, although he has maintained all real power in his hands as “Leader of the Nation”.

The situation at the time of writing this article is that President Tokaev has now ordered that the price of gas will be reduced to 60 tenge a litre for six months, with state regulation of the prices of gas, petrol and other socially necessary products, as well as subsidising rents for poor families and placing a moratorium on utility price rises. He promises to set up a special fund to address healthcare and child poverty. He warns, however, that the reduction of the gas price has to be temporary as the global market price is much higher.

Whether this is enough to calm the protests has to be seen. Given the past record of the ruling elite, these promises are likely to remain empty words. Anger is very high, and concerns not just prices. In December, for example, 30,000 oil workers in the Mangystau region alone were made unemployed. There is much resentment about the continued imprisonment of political opponents, including many trade unionists. Strikes have been spreading through the region, and there are reports they have reached the scale of a regional general strike.

Naturally, the regime itself and its supporters in the Kremlin and the Belarusian regime are saying that this is another western provoked “coloured revolution”. Mouthpiece of the Russian regime “Life News” claims that the protests have been plotted and planned for. They name the oligarch in exile Mukhtar Ablyazov as responsible, suggesting that they have been organised to undermine the negotiations planned for next week between Russia and NATO over Ukraine. This is, of course no more than another conspiracy theory, spread by the regime intended to undermine support for the protests.

At the same time this raises the question: if “Grandad goes” what is to replace him and the system that he has built to defend not just his interests, but those of the corporations that support him? Strikers involved ten years ago in the Zhanaozen drew far-reaching political conclusions: “they called for the nationalisation of the oil companies under workers’ control”. By November 2011, the strikers set up a unified workers’ committee over the whole region which called for a boycott of the parliamentary election as a result of their lack of confidence in the current political parties and for the setting up of a national unification of fighting trade unions with their own political party.

The brutal repression that followed the Zhanaozen massacre meant a period of retreat by the workers movement, but now that the current protests have gained a national scale, the time has come to put these issues back onto the agenda for discussion.

Spikymike
Jan 6 2022 16:57

Specifically Russia is to deploy a regiment of paratroopers under the CSTO partnership as supposed ''peacekeepers''!!
There are some additional related points on past UK connections in this short text here:
https://anarchistcommunism.org/2022/01/06/uprising-in-kazakhstan/

Foristaruso
Jan 8 2022 09:50

Statement by Russian anarcho-syndicalists and anarchists on the situation in Kazakhstan

We, Anarcho-syndicalists and Anarchists of Russia express our full and complete solidarity with the social protest of the working people of Kazakhstan and send them our comradely greetings!

The current explosion of social protest in Kazakhstan, one of the most outstanding and brightest since the beginning of the new century, has become the apogee of the wave of the strike struggle of oil workers and other categories of workers in the country, which has not stopped since last summer.

The working people of Kazakhstan gradually recovered from the terrible massacre of the proletarians, organized in 2011 by the dictatorial regime of Nazarbayev, and began to consistently seek higher wages and the ability to create trade unions and other workers' associations. The poverty of the majority of the population, the cruel exploitation of labor, the rise in prices, daily oppression and lack of rights made the position of the working person unbearable and forced him to rise to protest actions.

The last straw was the layoffs of tens of thousands of oil workers in December 2021, the introduction of a "sanitary" dictatorship under the pretext of "fighting the pandemic" and a draconian increase in gas prices. On January 3, a general strike of workers began in the Mangistau region, which soon spread to other regions of the country. In the former capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty, clashes erupted between protesters and repressive forces; there are tens or even hundreds of people killed and wounded. During the protests, disadvantaged people, primarily young unemployed and internal migrants, committed acts of popular expropriation, destroying many large shopping centers, shops and bank branches. In a number of cases, the troops refused to open fire on the rebels.

The protest in the country is spontaneous and uncoordinated; therefore, its participants put forward a variety of, often contradictory, slogans and demands. We, as anarchists, support, first of all, those of them which have a distinctly and unequivocally social orientation and sharply distinguish the strike and uprising in Kazakhstan from the numerous electoralist protests and political coups of recent years. These demands were spread during the protest rallies and in social reds: the abolition of the increase in gas prices; increase in wages by 100%; cancellation of raising the retirement age; taking measures to combat unemployment; abolition of compulsory vaccination against COVID-19, lockdowns and discriminatory segregation measures, etc.

In an effort to end the social revolt and gain time, the frightened regime was forced to make concessions: to declare a drop in gas prices, freeze prices for "socially important" goods for 180 days, dismiss the government and remove the de facto dictator, billionaire Nazarbayev, from the post of head of the Security Council of Kazakhstan. But none of this helped. Western oil companies insistently demanded that President Tokayev restore the capitalist order. The country's rulers imposed a state of emergency and curfews, banned rallies and strikes, and launched punitive operations against protesters and rioters, spilling streams of blood and arresting thousands of people.

At the request of the Kazakhstani regime, troops from a number of countries of the military-political bloc headed by the Russian Federation are being brought into the country to suppress social protests. They are called upon to fulfill the role of a gendarme for World Capital and trample the flames of social rebellion until its example, slogans and demands spread to other countries, engulfed in workers' strikes and mass protests against the widespread "sanitary" dictatorship and its apartheid.

We, Russian anarcho-syndicalists and anarchists, strongly condemn any suppression of social protests by the working people of Kazakhstan and the shameful counter-revolutionary foreign intervention led by the Kremlin.

We condemn any attempts by politicians of all stripes to use the social protest of Kazakhstani workers in order to climb to the top of power by themselves and redistribute property in their favor.

We stand firmly, resolutely and without the slightest hesitation on the side of the current social revolt in Kazakhstan and call on the working people of Russia and the whole world to show practical solidarity with it.

FULFILL SOCIAL REQUIREMENTS OF KAZAKHSTAN WORKERS!

STOP SUPPRESSING PROTESTS IN KAZAKHSTAN AND REPRESSION AGAINST THEIR PARTICIPANTS!

FREEDOM TO ALL ARRESTED PROTESTORS!

NO FOREIGN INTERVENTION!

SHAME TO INTERVENTIONISTS!

Anarchist Initiative StopTotalControl

Commission of Information of CRAS, IWA section in the Region of Russia
https://aitrus.info/node/5884

R Totale
Jan 8 2022 10:35

Linked to in the crimethinc piece, but here's a statement from the comrades of Pramen in Belarus:
https://pramen.io/en/2022/01/colonialism-of-the-twenty-first-century/

Dyjbas
Jan 8 2022 13:21
Entdinglichung
Jan 11 2022 13:11