Kazakhstan: Popular Uprisings Rocks the Authoritarian “Sistema”


Viva el levantamiento obrero revolucionario de Kasajstán

Казахстан: Нродное восстание сотрясает авторитарную систему



Statement by the RCIT Russia and the International Bureau of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 5 January 2022, www.thecommunists.net




1.            Kazakhstan – the politically and economically dominant country of Central Asia – experiences a spontaneous insurrection by the popular masses. Thousands of people have stormed governmental buildings in several cities and some were set on fire. Videos are circulating where protestors disarm and arrest soldiers. Other videos show that parts of the security forces are joining the insurrectional people. This is a revolutionary situation by any standards!


2.            The uprising was started by industrial workers in the town of Zhanaozen on 2 January. Soon, the insurrection spread to other cities in the oil-rich western Mangystau region. Zhanaozen has a long tradition as an industrial hub with strong labor unions. This town was also the center of the famous workers insurrection in 2011 which was violently cracked down by the regime, killing dozens of protestors after months of standoff including socialist activists from a Trotskyist organization affiliated with the CWI at that time. In the following days, protests have also started in the largest city (Almaty) as well as the nation’s capital (Nur-Sultan).


3.            The protests were triggered by the governments’ decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). As a result, prices have more than doubled in the past days. This has dramatic consequences for people since many cars run on LPG. It should be noted that Kazakhstan natural gas reserves are the third largest in CIS-commonwealth and its gas production increased from 11,6 bcm in 2002 to 55,2 bcm in 2020. Nevertheless, Kazakhstan infrastructure and gas supply remains underdeveloped with barely above 40% population has accesses to gas in 2015. Moreover, as an economy integrated in global market its prices depend on global market ones. Thus, even with increased production these can rise due Kazakhstan’s integration in global trade.


4.            In addition to calling for the restoration of the price cap, protestors have also added other, political demands. The most important one is the demand to remove the whole "sistema" – as the people call the regime. Kazakhstan has been ruled by its former Stalinist boss Nursultan Nazarbayev since it became independent in 1991. He restored capitalism at that time and ruled the country by authoritarian means until he formally handed the presidency over to his hand-picked successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in 2019. Hence, the protestors in Zhanozen demand that nobody from the regime must be in a new government or any leadership position. In the neighbouring cities of Aktau and Aktobe protestors also demand the right to elect their local governors (they have been appointed by the regime since 1991). Furthermore, protestors also demonstrate for democracy, popular representation, against compulsory vaccination, demanding that vaccination must be voluntary. This last demand shows that people understand the connection between the reactionary regime and restrictions associated with the COVID mandatory politics and lockdowns which helps for “sistema” to justify restriction of free movement and restrict protests!


5.            The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) strongly welcomes the popular uprising of the Kazakh workers and popular masses! The people are right to rebel and to call for the downfall of the capitalist-authoritarian "sistema"! This is another element in the chain of popular uprisings which started in 2011 with the Arab Revolution and which has spread since 2019 to Hong Kong, India, Chile, Colombia, Sudan, South Africa, Catalunya, France, the U.S. and many other countries. One year ago, neighboring Kyrgyzstan experienced a similar event – the so-called "October Revolution”.


6.            We call for the creation of councils elected in workplaces and neighbourhoods. Likewise, it is urgent to build popular militias in order to defend the protests against police and paid thugs. Such independent forms of direct-democratic organization are crucial to avoid that the protests are hijacked by bourgeois demagogues who want to replace the current “sistema” by just another version of authoritarian regime. Another danger are various “opposition” forces which are striving for control in order to make concessions to Russia or other imperialist powers.


7.            Socialists should advocate the creation of a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly which would be under the control of the armed and organized popular masses. They only way forward is the overthrow of the ruling class and the creation of a workers and popular government. Such a government should expropriate the key sectors of industry, service and finance under workers control and expropriate the capitalists without any compensation! It should organize a public employment program under control of the workers and popular organizations in order to abolish unemployment and poverty and to combat inflation.


8.            The Kazakh “sistema” has always collaborated closely with imperialist Great Powers. While it was strongly orientated to U.S. imperialism in the period after 1991, this has changed in the last decade. With the decline of Western imperialism and the rise of its Russian and Chinese rivals, the Nazarbayev regime has become closely allied with Moscow and Beijing. Right now, some of the state’s officials demand for CSTO (the Russian-lead organization of regional security) members to intervene and Kyrgyzstan’s regime states its support for suppressing protests. Thus, its urgent to create a workers’ republic of Kazakhstan which would end domination by any imperialist Great Powers or its allied forces! Such an anti-imperialist orientation should be combined with the slogan for international cooperation in form of global socialist federation!


9.            The so-called left plays a rather pathetic role. Krasnaya Yurta – a Stalinist organization in Kazakhstan – formally shows sympathy for the protests. However, at the same time, they state that “they cannot come to the protest itself as an organization” since they “do not have broad support from the masses”. Hence, they would “most likely become a plaything in the hands of nationalists and pro-Western oppositionists.” (https://vk.com/red_yurt?w=wall-195469004_41873) As a result, they stay at home and act objectively as a plaything in the hands of the regime (as well as its masters in Moscow and Beijing)! Other Stalinist forces – in Russia and other countries – also find it impossible to openly support the popular uprising. They are fundamentally guided by the logic: “Putin’s friend is also my friend” or supporting the supposedly “lesser evil against USA”. Such shameful stance demonstrates once more that Stalinism acts as social-imperialist servant to one or the other Great Power!


10.          It is of utmost importance that authentic socialists join forces and fight for a revolutionary, anti-imperialist and internationalist program. They should work towards the creation of a revolutionary party as part of a new Revolutionary World Party! The RCIT calls socialist activists to join us in this struggle!




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We refer readers to another statement of the RCIT: Kyrgyzstan: "October Revolution” Drives Out Authoritarian Government, 08 October 2020, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/kyrgyzstan-october-revolution-drives-out-authoritarian-government/ 

taken from here
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