The whole truth about Zhanaozen

By Alina Kantor

Kazakhstan nowadays has become the target of an enlightened democratic society, trainer for verbal exercises of liberals, socialists, trade unionists. The events that took place last year in the west of the republic - in a provincial town Zhanaozen attracted global attention to this country, because for such a peaceful, calm and tolerant state, which avoided shocks and revolutions during the first years of independence, these riots that led to bloodshed are truly bolt from the blue.

For many ethnic groups Kazakhstan became the birthplace, there are about 50,000 poles, and this fact only fuels the interest to the events. The increased political risks provoke migration moods. It is therefore important to understand: Zhanaozen - is the trend of social instability, the consequences of the political struggle between different groups, elites and non-systemic opposition or inadvertent release of social discontent, which was very lucrative for some politicians?

It is interesting to know something else: how professionally worked law enforcement agencies of the republic and isn’t it going to happen Kirghiz "syndrome" here? Several revolts that took place in the adjacent to the Kazakhstan mining republic led to the complete demoralization of the police and special services. Every new government felt its duty to arrange a demonstration whipping to the people in the form for the fact that they too zealously fulfilled their responsibility to protect public order in favor of the former regimes. In particular, after the defection of Bakiyev, the latest in the dock were the employees of "Alpha" special forces and the State Security Service of Kyrgyzstan. It is not surprising that with every new revolution the desire of law enforcement guards to professionally execute their direct duties is decreasing.

Regarding this, in Kazakhstan it was also begun the trial of five police officers acting outside their authority in suppressing the rebellion. There is a blood on these people’s hands - a fact the prosecution is trying to prove. Indeed, the suppression of riots killed 15 people. This is a glaring fact, requiring the most careful consideration. Still, let's do it objectively.

Thus, human life is sacred. This is an indisputable truth. But no one would dispute that, in respect of bank robbers, criminals and looters policemen throughout the world operate extremely tough. If we accept this postulate, then the subsequent retelling of the events is presented in a completely different perspective.

So why the police fired at rioters? Why did they use live ammunition? And why this local revolution happened in seemingly prosperous country? Nutritional basis for a social explosion was the strike of oil workers, dissatisfied with their salary, which lasted for many months. That is, it was a labor dispute no way related to politics. However, with the growth of the contradictions that are artfully swelled by the emissaries of non-systemic opposition, in particular, of declared internationally wanted fugitive Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov,  small town Zhanaozen turned into a landfill, which rehearsed a scenario of Benghazi. The parallels are obvious - an oil town located on the periphery. In the social aspect it is not much different from the others, but considering the millions of tons of black gold under our feet, there is a reason for discontent.

Playing on the social contradictions, comparing considerable wages of workers with salaries of top managers, rebellion organizers have created electrified protest atmosphere. And it shot in literal sense at the most inopportune day- the national holiday of the 20th anniversary of Independence.

As witnesses remember that tragic day - December 16, 2011 - a chaos arosein the town. Celebrations turned into riots. Police units who were on duty at the central square were swept away by a mass of strike. Many of them were injured. Policemen did not have weapons, and therefore retreated to the city Department of the Interior. At this time, on the air there were resounded many calls for help. It was already burning a city administration, a number of other buildings, went on looting of shops and supermarkets, banks and ATMs.

But the most terrified were the intentions of thugs to burn the people trapped in buildings. Reports of this came on the radio. The only correct response was to immediately make available forces to prevent the escalation of the conflict. As there were no special means, rubber bullets and gas grenades, members of units came out with combat weapons to disperse the demonstrators, - 100 police officers against the raging crowd of thousands.

There are a lot of different versions about further events. Kazakhstan opposition insists that the police shot the civilians. Law enforcement agencies show riddled with bullets and shot policemen shields. In Internet there are videos about the police shooting at the feet of people fleeing from them. But the story is ripped out of context, because we do not see that before it this mad crowd tried to take away guns from law enforcement officers. One of the instigators shouted that bullets are blank, and then the chaos began.

Here, I want to draw attention to the significant caveat that many people left without attention. Namely: the cry of the blanks. This means that the police fired into the air. And there were no injuries from the first shots. This means there was no purpose to kill people. Attempts were made to reason, to scare. And this tactic might work if the oil workers did not have among them those strange people in black. The  victims and survivors say about them today in court. All of them acknowledge the existence of a third force. Men in Black acted strictly in accordance with the intended purpose - provoke the police. This is a new political technology tried on the Square in Moscow. In the crowd of strikers Muscovites could identify people with red armbands - directing the movement of nature. But here in Moscow provocateurs threw stones at police and cut them with knives, while in Kazakhstan, the criminals were armed, including firearms. Unprepared police of Kazakhstan, which never experienced anything like it, reacted to the provocations with opening fire. And unfortunately, among the victims there were people of any innocent,  that accidentally appeared at the wrong time and wrong place. This is a great misfortune and great sorrow.

On May 21st the sentence was announced for 12 persons on the criminal case of mass disturbances on December 17th 2011 at the station Shetle

(continuation of the events in Janaozen). According to the sentence, one defendant was justified for failure of evidence, 11 were foundguilty (six of whom were pardoned generally, one was given suspended sentence, four of them were convicted for various terms of imprisonment). Recently, the court has sentenced policemen to different terms of jail. Now sentencing for other participants of disturbances is expected. In this regard, Kazakhstan demonstrates the commonsense approach, places all points above «i» very objectively. The authorities realize that this is the only way to maintain stability, which is necessary for a large multinational people of the country.

To conclude this brief analysis, I would like to ask, what if the police did not come out to help people. What if they would not restore order, waiting for help from the center? What if they would give the town at the mercy of thugs? I think in this situation - the victims number could be much larger.

Something similar happened in 1992 in Los Angeles. Riots were provoked by the trial of four white police officers caught in the beating of African-American, but they were justified. So, the police have acted "wisely" - in accordance with democratic norms. Realizing that in order to bring to life the strikers the using of clubs and water cannons is not appropriate, and the use of weapons of war is inhumane, the police simply left the city at the mercy of the rebels. As a result, riots lasted six days. During this period of anarchy criminals killed about 40 people. The order was restored by a special operation involving all police forces, military and FBI agents. But not without victims. For the suppression of the strikers in the Los Angeles police killed 15 people, about two thousand were wounded. For example, during the suppression of rebellion security officials who were involved in the physical destruction of the most aggressive participants in the later have not been convicted by human rights defenders. And regarding them there were no courts. This was possible because the sweep in Los Angeles was held in complete information vacuum, and in Kazakhstan even few policemen were on everyone's mind. There was also guilt of opposition that delivered a whole pack of journalists on the eve of the event who enthusiastically told the world about the alleged bloody regime in Kazakhstan. I do not know about you, but I'm sickened by this double democracy...