Expert: “The outcome of the protests depends on the speed of reforms”
In the city of Zhanaozen on Tuesday morning, employees of four Ozenmunaigas enterprises went to a rally. The city where the infamous Kazakh protests began in early January is once again engulfed in popular discontent.
Photo: Frame from video
The local bus station became the center of the performance. The oil workers are demanding higher wages and better working conditions. In addition to purely economic demands, the protesters state general social problems of Zhanaozen itself.
Oil industry workers are supported by local residents, who are also dissatisfied with the state of affairs in the country and the region. The protesters also demanded that the authorities stop political persecution, especially of young people, and bring about changes in Kazakhstan.
This is not the first time that Zhanaozen has become a place that has been mentioned in the context of Kazakh protests. One of the most famous cases until January of this year occurred in 2011. Then the employees of the state oil and gas company KazMunayGas came up with purely economic demands. In response to the mass strike, the authorities of Kazakhstan reacted quite harshly, which turned into a bloody crackdown and an unsuccessful end to the protest. 16 people died, hundreds were injured and arrested.
The protesters of Zhanaozen also played a significant role in the January events. It was here that rallies began against the rise in prices for gas motor fuel, which is in great demand in Kazakhstan. After that, a wave of protests swept over other regions of the country, including Alma-Ata.
The current situation in Zhanaozen shows how closely the country's political and economic problems are intertwined. Zhanaozen, unofficially nicknamed “the birthplace of protests,” has long been the focus of all the contradictions that exist in Kazakhstan today.
So far, the authorities of Kazakhstan, fearing a recurrence of spontaneous riots, manage simply by calling on citizens to calm down, and not with batons and shooting, as in previous times. President of the Eurasian Expert Council Public Foundation Chingiz Lepsibayev spoke about the prospects for a new protest in Kazakhstan.
– Rallies are a completely normal phenomenon for any democratic country. As in all civilized countries, they will continue as a form of civil protest. So far, it is premature to talk about spontaneous mass rallies, because a large package of political, economic and other reforms has been announced. Therefore, whether the protest will continue or not depends directly on how the authorities will carry out these reforms.