News / Africa

    Kazakhstan: Riots Not Prelude to Arab Spring

    Kazakh riot police officers detain demonstrators during an opposition rally in Kazakhstan's commercial capital Almaty, December 17, 2011.
    Kazakh riot police officers detain demonstrators during an opposition rally in Kazakhstan's commercial capital Almaty, December 17, 2011.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    James Brooke

    For years, Kazakhstan has nurtured an image of stability and friendliness to foreign investors. In recent days, a series of riots and protests in western Kazakhstan has marred this image.

    Kazakh authorities sought Tuesday to defuse protests in its main oil-producing region, promising to find jobs for thousands of workers who have been on strike since last May.

    Last weekend, the seven-month-long strike erupted into violence as police fired on rioters in two towns in western Kazakhstan. Officially 15 people were killed, 110 others wounded and 46 buildings were burned.

    Ainur Kurmanov, a Kazakh labor leader visiting Moscow, told says that the human toll was far higher, probably around 70 dead and 700 to 800 wounded.

    On Tuesday, communications were restored with Zhanaozen, the oil city that saw the most violence. Rioters there looted bank cash machines and burned the mayor's office, a hotel and the offices of the Kazakh-Chinese joint venture company that had fired the workers last May.

    Kazakhstan is the world's 18th largest oil producer and an increasingly important supplier of oil to its eastern neighbor, China. The riots dent Kazakhstan's image as an investor-friendly island of stability in Central Asia.

    The oil field dispute should have been resolved six months ago, Kazakh Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Yermukhamet Yertysbayev told Interfax Tuesday.

    He blamed the violence on oil workers from neighboring Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Saying Kazakhs are peaceful people, he added that an Arab revolution in Kazakhastan is "impossible in principle." He said he is "deeply convinced" that this will not happen on a national scale.

    Scenes of the rioting have been played extensively on Russian television, prompting the Kazakh presidential advisor to charge that the Russian media are using the riots to distract Russians from their own protest movement.

    Bulat Abilov, chairman of the opposition Social Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, said that the protests were also fueled by regional resentment.

    Speaking from Almaty, the commercial capital, Abilov said that the oil wealth from western Kazakhstan pays for the palaces and modernistic buildings of Kazakhstan's showcase capital, Astana. While the oil towns of western Kazakhstan remain in Soviet poverty, he says, corrupt bureaucrats get rich in the nation's two big cities.

    But he said local complaints are often kept quiet under the authoritarian rule of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, leader of Kazakhstan since independence 20 years ago.

    Today, "oil separatism" is a phrase often used to describe the bitter mood in Kazakh oil towns near the Caspian Sea.

    Despite the bitter cold, protesters in Aktau, capital of the oil-producing Mangistau region, taunted riot police again on Tuesday with signs reading, "Don't Shoot People" and "Blood is Cheaper than Oil."

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora