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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Nationalize the oil industry & end the rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators: Dispatches from Kazakhstan

Strikers read out demands at the Velikaya Stena oil firm in Kazakhstan

Comrades in the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan have issued statements regarding the strikes and protests in the oil industry in the west of the country as well as the ongoing efforts by the government to vilify the country's successful socialist past in the USSR while rehabilitating Nazi collaborators as has happened in Ukraine and the Baltic States.

The Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan condemns the final decision of the State Commission for the Final Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression to acquit 311 thousand people, many of whom are criminal criminals or persons with weapons who fought as terrorists, Basmachi, members of the Turkestan Legion and Eastern Muslim SS units against the Red Army and the Soviet government.

All are now being presented as "victims of the Stalinist regime of the 20-50s of the XX century," although among them there were a lot of people convicted of banditry, sabotage, plundering public property, for attacks on trains and motor vehicles with the aim of robbery, which in the 20s and early 30s was equated to political crimes.

Among those acquitted, as we expected, were members of terrorist organizations, spies, fighters of Basmachian gangs and anti-Soviet uprisings of the collectivization period, as well as collaborators who joined the service of Nazi Germany and were in the Turkestan Legion of the Wehrmacht and Muslim SS units. Many of them have the blood of Soviet citizens, party and Komsomol activists on their hands.

It should be noted that the decree itself on the formation of the State Rehabilitation Commission is actually a copy of the draft law on final rehabilitation in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, prepared by the local Soros-Kyrgyzstan Foundation and the Open Government funded by USAID.

In other words, this suggests that such rehabilitation, as well as the release of "books of memory" funded by American foundations, is a general scheme for rewriting history in Kazakhstan and Central Asia in order to condemn the Soviet period and present it as a permanent "genocide" of local peoples by the Bolsheviks.

Before the State Commission announced on December 27 that it had acquitted 311 thousand convicts who had not previously been subject to rehabilitation, a seven-volume edition of The History of Kazakhstan was published in Kazakhstan in October this year, in which the USSR is represented as a state that carried out the genocide of the Kazakh people for 70 years.

With this decision on rehabilitation, the provision on the criminal role of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party was officially enshrined in ideology, which logically will soon lead to the prohibition of communist symbols and Marxism-Leninism in the country.

Moreover, since 2018, the decree of President Nursultan Nazarbayev on the change of "ideologically outdated names of streets and settlements" has been in force in Kazakhstan, according to which dozens of monuments to Lenin and Soviet figures have already been demolished and tens of thousands of names of squares, avenues and settlements have been renamed.

The next stage will be the final recognition of the Holodomor, since such a bill has long been ready in parliament, and there will also be the glorification of the rehabilitated, through the erection of monuments to them, the release of films and books. In Kazakhstan, 15 streets have already been renamed in honor of the founder of the Turkestan Legion of the Wehrmacht and Muslim SS units Mustafa Shokai and several monuments have been erected to him.

Certainly after that, following the example of Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine, monuments to the heroes of the Red Army will be destroyed. And the first attempts are already being made, which was done during the renaming of streets in a number of regions of the country, and there are constant calls to dismantle the monument to the 28 Panfilov Guards in Almaty and remove the name of General Ivan Panfilov from the name of the district of the Almaty region.

The Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan unequivocally opposes this rehabilitation of those who fought against the Soviet government, as well as fought as punishers against the partisans and the local population in Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Greece, Italy, France and Belgium occupied by the German fascists!

We oppose the glorification of the Basmachi and members of the Turkestan Legion of the Wehrmacht and Muslim SS units, and attempts to present them as "fighters for liberation from the Bolshevik dictatorship"!

The west of Kazakhstan is again gripped by strikes and the repressive actions of the authorities and employers may lead to an outbreak of mass protests, which, against the background of an energy and communal collapse, will inevitably cause another political crisis.

The fact is that since December 11, five hundred workers of the oilfield service company West Oil Software LLP have been on strike at the Zhetybai field in the Mangystau region, who are still protesting. But they put forward important demands, which are supported by hundreds of teams of the same service companies not only in the region, but also in neighboring oil-producing regions, which immediately led to the fact that the strike turned into a landmark action that everyone is looking at now.

The point is that the oilmen demanded the upgrade of outdated equipment, the inclusion of their team in the state company KazMunaiGas and the introduction of a unified wage system. In fact, this is a call or slogan for nationalization and revision of the results of optimization and privatization. After all, earlier this company West Oil Software was an integral part of the subsidiary of KazMunaiGas and it was simply taken out of the gate, after optimization, turned into a private office.

And the management of KazMunayGas, which received recommendations from Western consulting firms, has carried out such an operation with hundreds of auxiliary enterprises throughout the country in recent years, immediately depriving many tens of thousands of workers of stable salaries, social benefits and even permanent jobs. Now each such private office has turned into a contractor and is engaged in a competitive, and in fact corrupt, struggle to obtain a tender for the performance of work for a year.

The year ends, as does the tender, and it is not a fact that one or another team will remain at work if it does not "win" another tender for shadow schemes. And even strategic enterprises found themselves in this situation, such as the drillers of the company "Burgylau" LLP, who had been on strike for several months since February last year, demanding their immediate nationalization and the cancellation of the results of illegal privatization.

The same was demanded in the spring of this year by the workers of the Berali Mangistau Company oilfield service company, sending an entire delegation of two hundred oil workers to Astana, where they spent the day and night at the building of the Ministry of Energy. They believed that it was necessary to put an end to the vicious practice of concluding opaque and unnecessary tenders and return all service companies back to the main production, ending this leapfrog and sending all profits to a state-owned company.

But then the government and the management of KazMunayGas considered the demands of the workers of the Mangystau region to be overstated and ordered the riot police to use force and clear the area in front of their offices of oil workers. This step by the authorities immediately provoked a two-day general strike and mass rallies in Aktau, Zhanaozen and throughout the region, and only the release of all detainees and sending them to their places of residence stopped the protests, which almost repeated the January events.

But in Astana, no lessons were learned from those protests, since history is now repeating itself almost like a carbon copy. Instead of entering into negotiations with West Oil Software workers, the authorities the very next day, December 12, secretly hold a district court in absentia and recognize the strike as illegal, and then introduce a SOBRA detachment and numerous police forces to the Zhetybai field, despite the fact that there are constant rallies, and the speech was supported by local residents and the workers of all the neighboring enterprises.

As a result, dozens of activists were fired, administrative cases were opened against many strikers, and now the prosecutor of the Karakiyansky district, Amanzhol Aituganov, threatened striking oil workers with punishments "for participating in an illegal strike" and "for inciting social discord", bringing criminal cases against them. And these actions only caused the effect of a red rag, that is, further provocation.

The same role is played by the head of KazMunayGas, Magzum Mirzagaliyev, who called the actions of the strikers destructive and hid from journalists the fact that West Oil Software was previously a structural division of a state-owned company.

Interestingly, it was he, being the Minister of Energy in early January 2022 and at the same time the protege of Elbasy's middle son-in-law Timur Kulibayev, who then defended the need to raise prices for liquefied gas and the absurdity and unreality of the demands of the strikers. He said this until he was fired by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for the failure of energy policy after mass protests spread to all other regions of the country.

Now, again, the same officials as in January last year bring the fuse to the barrel of gunpowder and stir it up on purpose, which only leads to further escalation and an imminent explosion. Claiming that the oil workers allegedly refuse to negotiate, the local authorities are also lying, since no one tried to negotiate with the strikers, because they are required to do only one thing – to disperse.

But they can no longer disperse, because they are sure that after returning from the watch they will immediately be arrested. And while they are with the whole team, with the support of workers from neighboring companies and the local population who collect food, water and warm clothes for them, they still have a chance to hold out and achieve concessions. And as a result, a couple of days ago, the strikers now put forward a new demand – the resignation of the Minister of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan Bolat Akchulakov and the leadership of KazMunayGas headed by Magzum Mirzagaliyev.

And already on December 19, workers of Buzachi Opereting LTD. went on strike with a similar demand at another field in the Mangystau region. The workers of the Munaispetssnab service company in Zhanaozen said that they were preparing to hold a warning strike on December 23, and if their demands, which are practically similar to those of the West Oil Software oilmen, were not met, they would begin an indefinite strike. Thus, three hotbeds of strikes and protests will soon appear in the Mangystau region.

As a result, the striking workers announced that they would send their representatives to the Ministry of Energy and the head office of KazMunaiGas in Astana for negotiations. They were not released by the police from the Zhetybai field for a week. As a result, three delegates were able to break out and hold a meeting with officials and managers of the state-owned company, but these conversations did not lead to anything, and the strike continues.

That is, the authorities, by their intransigence, themselves pushed the workers to unite and to expand the struggle. An attempt to disperse the strikers by force will only lead to a repeat of the January events of last year or, at best, the April events of this year and to the fact that social protests and strikes will spread again to the oil-producing regions, and then to the rest of the republic.

The main reason for all this is the ongoing process of denationalization of the industry in the interests of large capital and multinational corporations. And given that Astana plans to privatize the assets of KazMunayGas in favor of foreign companies, the workers' demands for a review of the results of privatization generally hang in the air and can only be implemented as a result of further radicalization of the struggle and in the case of a radical change in the government's course. And this makes the contradictions of interests simply irreconcilable.

The Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan notes that workers are forced to organize themselves into horizontal networks, since independent trade unions are actually prohibited, as well as strikes, which are recognized by the courts as illegal, and activists are then dismissed. The current struggle of oil workers in the Mangystau region is not only a struggle for higher wages, but also a struggle against privatization, against an increase in the rate of exploitation, for the exercise of the right of workers to form their own associations and to hold strikes.

An important factor is that the collectives advocate, as in 2011, the oilmen of Zhanaozen, for the nationalization of the industry and the cancellation of the results of optimization and privatization of production. Now, as 12 years ago, as in January 2022, new repressions may be unleashed against the labor movement, and the authorities and the owners have already initiated a dirty information campaign against the strikers.

We call on the Communist and workers' parties to support this just struggle of the workers of Kazakhstan and not to succumb to possible provocative materials about the alleged preparation of a new "color revolution", since such arguments have nothing to do with the class approach and simply pour water into the mill of multinational corporations and the General Pinochet-style regime, which banned trade unions and the Communist Party.


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