January 5, 2022
From Libcom
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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




Source: Libcom.org