On June 4th this year, thirty-four oil workers and supporters in Kazakhstan were convicted of rioting or "organizing and participating in mass unrest" to punish them for taking part last year in a major oil strike against OzenMunaiGasi, a subsidiary of KazMunaiGas, which is Kazakhstan's state oil and gas company. Despite court rulings that the strike was illegal and the firing of about 1,000 strikers, the workers had persisted in their struggle for seven months. Then, on December 16, 2011, Kazakhstan Independence Day, the police attacked a mass gathering of strikers in the town of Janaozen, setting off widespread street fighting. In the course of this, the police killed at least 17 people and wounded 100 or more. This was a bloody massacre by the corrupt and repressive regime of President Nazarbayev, and it was intended both to smash the strike and to stop the overall wave of mass protest that is simmering in the country. The various trials of the strikers have been a further atrocity, with the imprisoned workers being tortured in an attempt to blame them for having supposedly provoked the massacre. Roza Tuletaeva was accused of being the strike leader, and she has been subject to both torture and an especially long sentence. Protests and appeals against the sentences are continuing.
The vast oil, gas, and mineral wealth of Kazakhstan has been used, not for the prosperity of its working people, but for the development of a market economy and the enrichment of a corrupt regime. Discontent and worker actions have spread through Kazakhstan, and workers have won a number of struggles. The Janaozen massacre is a frenzied attempt to drown their movement in blood.
One would think that all groups and trends who claim to stand for the working class would condemn the Janaozen massacre. But, as we shall see, there are those who claim to be socialists and communists, and yet support the massacre. We reprint below two articles translated from the May 2012 issue of "Class View", a journal of Ukrainian Marxist activists, one of which condemns the fake "Communist" Party of Ukraine for endorsing the Janaozen massacre, and the other gives some of the demands of the Janaozen strikers.
It is a major feature of left-wing politics today that such
differences over a capitalist massacre of strikers can exist. It shows
that the disputes among those who claim to be Marxists aren't simply
doctrinal squabbles. There really is a major division between those who
actually stand for Marxism-Leninism and the working class, and those
who use some of the phrases of Marxism but are willing to back
massacres of workers in Janaozen and elsewhere. These fake communists
are revisionists, people who distort Marxism to the point that it
loses its revolutionary character and becomes an apology for repressive
regimes, whether in Kazakhstan or Syria or elsewhere. In the
Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose association of many of the
countries of the old Soviet Union including Russia, Kazakhstan, and,
unofficially, Ukraine, many of these revisionists are Stalinists, who
not only long for the old Soviet Union, but are nostalgic for the
harshest days of Stalin's rule.
The Communist Voice Organization believes that communism will
eventually appear again as the banner of the revolutionary working
class. But it can only do so when it is a revolutionary and anti-
revisionist communism, which is opposed to the state-capitalists who
have dragged the communist banner through the mud.
Kazakhstan used to be part of the Soviet
Union, and became independent in 1991 as the Soviet Union collapsed.
The Soviet Union, while claiming to be communist, had actually
developed a state-capitalist system under Stalin, and maintained this
system right to its end. State-capitalism, while different in form from
market capitalism, still amounts to a ruling bourgeoisie running the
economy for its own benefit. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the new
regime in Kazakhstan promised that things would be so much better than in the old
Soviet days, and it proceeded to develop a market economy, as was done in Russia as well. This has brought
neither freedom nor prosperity. The country has been ruled autocratically by President
Nursultan Nazarbayev for over two decades since independence, and the
new market economy has meant exploitation of the workers.The market economy did, however, bring approval from the
The editors of Klassovii Vzglyad regret to inform readers that
much of the analytical material about the massacre of oil workers in
the Kazakh city of Janaozen, which was prepared specifically for this
issue, for technical reasons has not seen the light. We hope to later
put it on the blog Against the Current. However we could not
ignore the execution of the Kazakh workers, as in the recent history of
the CIS this execution is an unprecedented phenomenon. Therefore we are
printing materials that relate to the events in Janaozen. In the first
place, here is the appeal about the seven-month-long oil strike, which
also was a prelude to the December tragedy. The appeal clearly shows
the purpose of the workers' movement in Janaozen. And secondly, an
article by our comrade appears, denouncing the attitude of the
Ukrainian Stalinists towards Kazakh events.
Dear citizens of Kazakhstan!
Brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers!
For seven months, day and night, in the heat and frosts, the oil
workers have stood in "Yntymak" [Solidarity] Square in the city of
Janaozen. These simple people are demanding that the authorities show
respect and fair treatment for the workers, respect for the work of
your brothers and sisters, respect for the work of mothers and fathers.
For seven months, no one from the "Ak Orda" [Kazakh
Presidential Palace in Astana], neither the President nor the
ministers, nor any deputies of the Majilis have arrived to conduct
negotiations! They do not want to hear, see, and solve the problems of
For seven months, they have been supported by oil workers' movements
and independent trade unions around the world! They were supported by
simple workers, steelworkers, miners, mining engineers, doctors, and
teachers from all of Kazakhstan! The workers were supported by deputies
of the European Parliament. The struggle of our workers was seen all
over the world! The workers' struggle is everywhere!
The workers' demands are legitimate and peaceful. We are well aware
that on their struggle depends the fate of our children and the future
of all working people of Kazakhstan! We understand that ordinary
people: teachers, doctors and nurses, and the workers, drivers, and
ordinary police employees want to live as human beings and must support
the struggle of the workers. For the oil workers, and for all of us,
free higher education should be available for our children, with
kindergartens, and medical care. Everyone should have money for
affordable housing! And for this, by the Constitution of our country,
all the wealth belongs to the people, not to the thieving investors and
the fat cat bureaucrats!
Brothers and sisters! Let us work together, every one of us, to strive for a better life now, not later, as the authorities are promising us on the TV! Striking oil company workers work very hard and they hold on thanks to the help of simple people, not the authorities. Let's help the workers and demand:
* Liberation of Natalia Sokolova [a labor union lawyer jailed during the protest], who was protecting the Kazakh workers, and recognition by the authorities of the strike and the subsequent lockout, restoration of any and all laid-off workers, and removal of all judicial charges against workers and trade unionists;
* Improvement of living and working conditions, increase of wages, pensions, and the application of industrial and increased coefficients [hazardous work pay] not only for the oil workers, but for all workers without exception, throughout Mangystau Province;
* Independent investigation, punishment and dismissal of all officials, employees, whose actions led to the incitement of social hatred, lawlessness, humiliation, judicial and bandit harassment, beatings and brutal murders of workers and their families;
* Nationalization (back to the people as state property under the control of the workers) of enterprises in the mining sector;
* We all now need independent trade unions and to create our own political parties, which will protect us, not millionaires and employers.
On December 16, 1986, our brothers and sisters, who took to the streets and squares in Almaty, won independence for all of us. But the authorities have stolen the freedom of ordinary people and appropriated all of our wealth, appropriated fields, refineries, and means of production, and they have appropriated the work of many generations of our fathers and grandfathers. The government 20 years ago lied and promised us a good life, and they have continued to loot and plunder! What will happen when the oil runs out, and the other wealth? Is this what our ancestors shed their blood for, to preserve these riches for us?
On December 16, 2011 all self-respecting people will come to a peaceful rally and protest in Yntymak Square in Janaozen. And together we must make a choice:
Do we need this shameful government, that does not think about the people?
Do we need free elections to the Majilis of deputies representing workers and ordinary people?
Join the oil workers, stop work, create trade unions, workers' committees and go to "Yntymak" Square!
* Together we will achieve justice!
* Together, we will become the masters of wealth and achieve a better life for ourselves and for all the people of Kazakhstan!
* We will return to the people the freedom and independence of the Motherland!
* Together we will achieve respect for work and decent pay for work!
* Together we are an invincible force!
On December 16 rise up to fight for the rights of all the people of Kazakhstan! We are not silent slaves! Enough of enduring humiliation and deceit!
The Action Team of Mangystau Province Residents <>
On January 4  in the pages of the party organ of the Ukrainian Communist Party, an article appeared under the title "An 'Orange' Express Train Moscow - Astana [capital of Kazakhstan]", which literally shocked the Ukrainian left-wing circles. In this paper, the Ukrainian Communist Party leadership finally gave its assessment of the execution of the oil workers in the Kazakh city of Janaozen on December 16, 2011, and also commented on the recent protests in Russia. It would be better not to have done this ...
The vast majority of the Ukrainian public has long known the essence of Symonenko-ism [referring to Petro Symonenko, the Chairman of the Ukrainian Communist Party or CPU]. In addition to nostalgia for the strong hand of "the father of nations" [Stalin], having been intimidated by the ubiquitous U.S. imperialism and delighted with authoritarian regimes a la Lukashenko [authoritarian President of Belarus] and Putin, the Ukrainian Communist Party has distinguished itself by being perfectly unscrupulous, among the leftish political forces, in surrendering the interests of Ukrainian workers to the absolute corruption of Ukrainian bourgeoisie.
It was quite clear why the Ukrainian pseudo-Communists kept silent, and did not condemn the crimes of the Kazakh government against the workers. Stalinists are uncomfortable with talking about such things, because they have their own finger in the pie, and it is worth recalling at least the Shakhty case in 1928 or later the massacre of the workers in 1962 in Novocherkassk, in 1961 in Temirtau, in 1963 in Krivoy Rog, etc. The CPU-ists, as the ideological successors of the CPSU, would prefer to keep silent, to erase the memory of the facts of the humiliation of the working people in the "socialist" (in fact, state-capitalist) system, or at least to disown them, as Khrushchev did with Stalin.
However, as it has turned out, the helmsman of the CPU has not had his fill of arrogance, cynicism and desperation, and confirmation of this was the article already mentioned, in which Ukrainian "communists" identify themselves with the crimes of the regime of Nazarbayev [President of Kazahkstan]. The author of this article, presenting the "party line", states that, with the shooting of oil strikers, "Kazakhstan's leadership acted toughly, wisely and appropriately ...". In addition, it denied they were workers at all, but instead disguised rebels (as if the video is not clear that the military was shooting down unarmed people) ... No comments ... After these statements, only a deficient person could consider the CPU to be a left organization.
Then, switching to the recent events in Russia, the author again
continues the "general line" of the CPU by sharply condemning the
recent protests against election fraud, saying that
"those who are eager to be Robespierres used to live rich and bold" ... Symonenko and Co., who are so obviously trying to justify their complete inactivity in their familiar warm deputy's chair, are "communists" who are scared of any public street fighting, even for their bourgeois constitutional rights. But the Ukrainian Stalinists do not forget next to express their reverence for Putin, and called the demonstrators "rabble of the capital", who had a pitiful look "in the eyes of the colonel of the Soviet intelligence" ...
The Ukrainian Communist Party is a political corpse, which is not of much interest to Marxists. It disturbs others that the grinning fangs ideology of Stalinism, which continues to live on in the former Soviet Union, fully emerges in this article. The ruling class, especially in the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States, which is a loose association of a number of the countries which were formerly in the Soviet Union], has learned to use this ideology to their advantage to protect their own position, and for the discrediting of Marxism-Leninism, and to undermine the communist movement. Unfortunately, quite often revolutionary-minded youth who have easily accepted the simple patriotic and romantic teachings of the theorists of Stalinism, which are manifested in the form of a veiled Great Russian chauvinism, are often not fully conscious participants in the movement, with imperial attitudes, enthusiastic for authoritarian and totalitarian political systems, etc.
Marxists must consistently and continuously disclose the nature of
anti-labor great-Stalinism, dissociate itself from this right-wing
conservative political movement. Only a Leninist organization can help
to free the workers from capitalist slavery. <>
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