Kazakhstan. For most of the year, thousands of workers in
the state oil and gas company KazMunaiGaz went on strike for
higher wages. The company responded with the dismissals.
Countryaah official site, the
conflict intensified, and in December, riots broke out in
the oil town of Zhanaozen when dismissed oil workers clashed
with riot police who opened fire. At least 16 people were
killed, curfews were introduced and arrested were reported
to have been tortured. Several police officers were later
indicted for abusing their powers. The riots were the
biggest challenge to the authoritarian regime since
Kazakhstan became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Otherwise, 70-year-old President Nursultan Nazarbayev
tried to strengthen his power during the year. Parliament,
which lacks opposition members, decided in January on a
referendum to postpone the 2012 and 2017 presidential
elections and extend Nazarbayev's mandate to 2020. from the
U.S. Nazarbayev found it too good to reject a referendum, as
did the Constitutional Court. Instead, the president decided
to announce new elections for the presidential post. It was
held at short notice in April without a chance for the
opposition to prepare. According to the official result,
Nazarbayev received 95.5% of the vote. One of Nazarbayev's
three hopeless opponents also said he voted for the
incumbent president. There were reports of electoral fraud,
and the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe) described the election as undemocratic.
A well-known opposition man, Danijar Moldashov, was
beaten and robbed shortly before the election and then
disappeared abroad. The opposition accused the regime of
kidnapping Moldova, who was the editor of two opposition
In August, elections to the Senate were held, as
according to official information, the power party of
Fosterland won all the mandates that were at stake. The
regime also strengthened its control over religious life.
Parliament banned prayer in public workplaces and imposed
restrictions on the religious education of young people.
The regime said it wanted to curb extreme religious
ideas, but the consequences seemed to be the opposite. A
series of terrorist acts with a total of about 30 fatalities
were reported from various cities in the formerly relatively
quiet Kazakhstan. Among other things, in November, five
police officers and two civilians were killed by suicide
bombers in the city of Taraz. A previously unknown group,
Jund al-Khilafah, took on the death that was said to be a
response to restrictions on religious practice. Many people
were arrested as a result of terrorist suspicions and over
100 websites were closed, considered extremist.
President Nazarbayev decided in November to dissolve
Parliament's House of Commons and announced new elections
until January 2012. The election was seen by analysts as an
attempt to shine on democracy, a step in Nazarbayev's quest
to portray Kazakhstan as an up-and-coming, modern state
financed with growing oil and gas revenues..
However, in the state oil and gas company KazMunaiGaz,
thousands of workers have been striking for higher wages
since May. The company made substantial losses materially
but also in public relations for the country. During the
summer, close to 2,000 workers were laid off because of the
strike, and a lawyer who has been an adviser to the strikers
was sentenced to six years in prison accused of being
revived for social enmity.
In November, the Russian Federation, Belarus and
Kazakhstan signed an agreement to form the Eurasian Economic
Union, which is due to enter into force in 2015.