43 worker activists are due to stand trial on charges related to the disorder in Zhanaozen in March. This has been announced by the Investigation team in Aktau, West Kazakhstan. Seven of them are to be charged as “organisers of mass disorder”. They include worker activists and leaders of the striking oil workers – they are: Nataliya Azhigalieva, Roza Tuletaeva, Akzhanat Aminov, Talgat Saktaganov, Maksat Dosmagambetov, Aizhangul Amirov and Estai Karashaev. The last two are also activists in the opposition parties Alga and the Social-Democratic Party.
Up to the last minute, the authorities have been hiding the facts. They have refused to reveal the true number of people being investigated. Only recently they informed the “Zhanaozen 2011” Committee investigating the massacre that there were only 29 people being investigated on charges such as “inciting social disorder” and “participating in mass disorder”. It is highly likely that even more will end up appearing in court.
It is also not clear what will happen with the trials of the arrested leaders of the “Alga” party Vladimir Kozlov and Serik Sapargali, and two other Alga activists Bolat Atabaev and Zhanbolat Mamai, who have been ordered not to leave the city. Although the authorities are charging them with inciting the Zhanaozen conflict, Alga had not been directly involved in organizing the planned peaceful protest on 16th December. It seems that they will be put on trial after the strikers, so that the Prosecutor can use any evidence brought up in the first trail to strengthen their case against Kozlov, and indirectly against the founder of Alga, Mukhtar Ablyazov, the oligarch currently on the run from the British courts in France and against Nazarbayev’s “middle” son-in-law Rakhat Aliev, currently in Viennese exile.
In reporting the opening of the trials, the General Prosecutor still could not give an exact answer to questions about the numbers to be charged, instead went on to attack the independent press, particularly Russian correspondents from the “Novaya gazeta” (see article http://campaignkazakhstan.org/index.php/2012/01/12/interview-journalist-present-in-zhanaozen-on-16-december/) who, he claimed were “liars” building a good business on “the fat facts” from Zhanaozen and spoiling Kazakhstan’s image. In this way the information war between “Ak-Orda” (the President) and state apparatus on the one side and the small independent media with the support of some of the Russian opposition press is only being stepped up. The authorities are now threatening to bring some of the independent journalists to court for spreading “lying rumours” and slander.
This makes it more important for the stepping up of the campaign of solidarity with the arrested oil workers, who have been accused of mass disorder, looting, conducting illegal demonstrations and campaign and of organizing “illegal trade union meetings” as well as “inciting social conflict”. This means that we need to organize demonstrations and protests on the 24th March, the 100 day anniversary of the bloody shooting of the strikers and their relatives in Zhanaozen.