Kazakh oil workers rock Stalinist bureaucracy

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ALMATY – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has said that striking oil workers are not to blame for the riots that took place in the western town of Zhanaozen on 16 December.

Addressing local officials and oil workers in the town on 22 December, he said that the riots had been orchestrated from abroad and promised that the guilty would be tracked down in whatever corner of the world they might be.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev paid a working visit to the western Mangistau Region on December 22.

Following his meeting with regional officials in Aktau he arrived in Zhanaozen, a town in the region where riots took place on December 16.

The president had conversations with the police, who were in the midst of the disorders in Zhanaozen, to find out why they had to open fire.

The president invited the people into the hall to discuss the situation. They openly voiced their own opinions, especially their own hard feelings about certain officials.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev, said: ‘I cannot say here that oil workers caused all this and will not say that. The first questions is that we need to find all the perpetrators of the riots. We need to tell the truth to the people. These people had done what they wanted and run away. However, half of them have been arrested – but those who orchestrated all this did not come to Zhanaozen.

‘They orchestrated it from outside. We will be looking for the scoundrels.

‘We will track down all of them in whatever corner of the world they might be. Those, who joined the mob will not be found guilty of anything, they will be freed. I think there is no need to try them just for finding themselves in a mob.’

He said that he knew the circumstances and the roots of the situation in this town very well. However, certain officials gave him negative reports, saying to the effect that the strikes by oil workers since last May taking place in this town would be settled before they became complicated.

‘At the same time, the local authorities themselves did not hold talks directly with the people and did not pay heed to their demands and wishes. As a result, people have died and innocent people have become instruments in the hands of ill-wishers. The president said that the problems of oil workers would be fully addressed and decisions to this effect will be announced.’

President Nazarbayev, added: ‘I would have come in Zhanaozen a long time ago, in summer, if the oil managers had not said: “Oh, everything is all right. Do not go there, the problem will be settled soon. The striking oil workers will calm down by themselves. We will do this, we will do that.”

‘I said I would arrive here in September. Everybody, including the governor of the region and the head of KazMunayGaz, all of them cheated me by saying that negotiations were under way and that they were doing this or that. That is why I have sacked the head of KazMunayGaz and appointed Lyazzat Kiinov in his place. I replaced the head of the Razvedka Dobycha KazMunayGaz with Alik Aydarbayev. I appointed a new governor.

‘A new production facility will be opened around the Uzenmunaygaz company in future. It will again become an oil drilling company and this drilling company will start construction work within one year. We will employ all ex-oil workers to this oil drilling company in one year and give them the same amount of wages they used to get in the past.’

‘Apart from this, the state will allocate funds to retrain them in other job skills. We will give them certificates. This is not the only thing that we are sticking to; we will give second job skills to them, whether they are welders or operators.

‘Exactly the same kind of production will open in Zhetibay also in Mangistau Region. We will employ all of them there and pay their wages as before. Thus, the employees of these two places will receive wages and maintain their families.’

The President added: ‘Tell all of the oil workers. They, the oil workers, should not be afraid of anyone. I will issue an instruction to this effect now. No-one will arrest or detain them.’