Kazakhstan: land protesters face police rampage

May 25, 2016

Street protests, against plans to step up land privatisation, were broken up by police in many of Kazakhstan’s largest cities on Saturday. The demonstrations were organised by informal on-line networks, rather than by any of the recognised opposition groups. Here are key points from a report by ANDREI GRISHIN, published here on the Fergana news site (in Russian):

Special rapid-reaction police detachments attacked small groups [of demonstrators] wherever they gathered. They grabbed everyone, regardless of gender, age and nationality. Dozens of journalists were arrested.

Kazakhstan had waited for the events of 21 May with bated breath. [Protesters had named that as a day of action after a previous wave of demonstrations had forced the government to pull back from planned land reforms. See an earlier report here.] The official media had railed against the protests. And it all ended – grgrgkazza3as it has so many times before – with the “slaughter of the innocents”, but this time more brutal than usual. The detention of dozens of journalists, including foreigners, was proof of that.

However, for the first time, people came out to protest all at once, in a number of cities and towns, without any leaders – because these leaders had either been arrested in advance, or had agreed to the authorities’ demands [after the previous demonstrations] and joined the [government’s] land commission.

[In Alma-ata in the south-east, the largest city in Kazakhstan and former capital, Read the rest of this entry »

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Kazakhstan: land protests force president to back down

May 6, 2016

Here ANDREI GRISHIN reports on the mass movement that yesterday (5 May) forced Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to scrap plans to privatise swathes of land. This fierce defence of common access to land brings Kazakh people together with similar movements across the world; their defiance of a violent and bullying government is an inspiration. This is an edited version of a report published yesterday on the Ferghana.com web site in Russian.

Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev has announced a moratorium on land code regulations that were due to take effect on 1 July this year. The regulations […] that “called forth a reaction from society” will be put on hold until 2017, the president said. At the same time, the national economy minister Erbolat Dosayev was dismissed and the agriculture minister Asylzhan Mamybekov reprimanded.

The “reaction from society” that the president mentioned was a wave of protest meetings, held without permission on the squares of Kazakh cities. Many hundreds of people attended, to protest against the sale of land or its lease to foreign leaseholders.

[Here is the time-line over which the movement unfolded:]

24 April. The first demonstration against land sales took place in Atyrau in western Kazakhstan [in the heart of the main oil-producing region]. No-one expected it – least

Protesters in Atyrau on 24 April

Protesters in Atyrau on 24 April

of all two local activists, Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan, who posted on Facebook that they would stage a picket at Isatay-Makhambet square, against the authorities’ plans to more than double the lengths of land leases to foreign entities. Two thousand people Read the rest of this entry »