Interview with the leader of the “Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan” Ainur Kurmanov

The editorial staff of Resistentiam, expressing full solidarity with the protest of the working people of Kazakhstan, presents to its international audience an up-to-date conversation about the situation that has arisen in Kazakhstan now, which we managed to hold with a prominent representative of the left-wing political opposition platform Ainur Kurmanov. A trade union and public leader who devoted 20 years of his life to the struggle for the rights of the modern proletariat of the largest Central Asian country, description and conclusions on the January processes in Alma-Ata and other cities of the country from the most objective socialist positions.


– Ainur, you, as an experienced leader of the socialist opposition in Kazakhstan, can probably comment on the annoying stuffing of information in the Russian media – about the fact that the protesters went into open conflict with the ruling class not with an autonomous resolve, but by the will of some kind of behind-the-scenes technology. Allegedly, the manipulation of the protest is in the hands of President Tokayev, or some Western political scriptwriters. This stuffing into the information space, which we hear everywhere, annihilates the protest of workers. Through him, they are trying to prove to us that the people of Kazakhstan have no experience of self-organization, blindly acting at the will of a third party.

– I think that this is just a planned propaganda action to discredit the popular explosion that is taking place in Kazakhstan. An attempt to show that this is the “hand of the State Department”, that this is a “new Maidan” in another part of the post-Soviet space. This is understandable: there is an attempt to demonize the protest in Kazakhstan so that it does not serve as an example favorable to other workers in the post-Soviet space. Although it is obvious that Nazarbayev’s regime is itself pro-Western, now oriented towards Turkey and integration with the United States and the European Union. More than 2/3% of the country’s economy is in the hands of American, European and British companies, this raw material model of capitalism, or the so-called “export” model of the economy, which is controlled by transnational corporations, has been built in the country.

– This is one of the most important points. After all, those who conduct an informational PR campaign aimed at denigrating the protest in Kazakhstan, first of all, deliberately miss the economic component of what is happening …

– The modern Tokayev-Nazarbayev regime in Kazakhstan has launched the processes of active Nazification and decommunization in the country. This is a massive renaming of settlements, the demolition of monuments of the Soviet period, attempts to ban communist ideology. In 2020, in Alma-Ata, a government commission was created for the final rehabilitation of the Basmachi and members of the Turkestan Legion of the Wehrmacht and Muslim SS units; this process continued throughout the entire 2021. The final recognition, through the adoption of the relevant law, of the fact of the Holodomor in the country. Final recognition, through the adoption of the relevant law, of the fact of the Holodomor in the country. The law provides for the possibility of criminal prosecution of people who will deny the fact of “the Holodomor deliberately arranged by the Bolsheviks”: that is, to question the very existence of the Holodomor in Kazakhstan in the first third of the 20th century, or the fact of the genocide of the Kazakh people by the Soviet government. Accordingly, the history of the Soviet period is also being rewritten, and the Soviet Union itself is presented by modern propaganda structures of Kazakhstan as a state that organized terror against the Kazakh people. Such propaganda has been going on, gaining momentum more and more, for many years, starting immediately after the collapse of the USSR. Now it is being introduced into the structures of education. That is, the current government has been doing it for a long time, and it is with the initiative “from above” that what can be called, by analogy with “Ukrainization,” nazification. At the same time, for some reason, all these years, the Russian media did not react to this at all, until the beginning of such a phenomenon as “language patrols” in public places in Kazakhstan. Here, I repeat, their organization was also launched from above, from the existing government structures, possibly by the State Security Committee. “Language patrols”, the measures being taken to introduce the Latin alphabet – this is a phenomenon completely in the spirit of the “Ukrainian Maidan”, if we start talking in this vein. The entry of Kazakhstan into the Turkic Union, along with the conduct of public “language patrols”, is one of the striking indicators that it was the current government of Nazarbayev-Tokayev who led and continues to lead Kazakhstan through destabilization. Therefore, the ongoing attempts to toughly suppress the protests of the working people – we, the socialists, are inclined to view the class solidarity of the ruling international elites with each other – nothing more. The solidarity of the bourgeois classes with the ruling regime of Nazarbayev actively manifested itself long before the protest phenomena.

That is why at the moment when the regime “twisted” the screws in the country, where popular protests began to sweep the whole country from Zhanaozen and Mangistau region, the propaganda bodies were forced to act promptly. To present what happened as a “theory” according to which someone from outside interferes in the internal affairs of Kazakhstan, organizes strikes, rallies, and protests – after all, it all began with them… That is why at the moment when the regime “twisted” the screws in the country, where popular protests began to sweep the whole country from Zhanaozen and Mangistau region, the propaganda bodies were forced to act promptly. To present what happened as a “theory” according to which someone from outside interferes in the internal affairs of Kazakhstan, organizes strikes, rallies, and protests – after all, it all began with them… That is why at the moment when the regime “twisted” the screws in the country, where popular protests began to sweep the whole country from Zhanaozen and Mangiustan region, the propaganda bodies were forced to act promptly. To present what happened as a “theory” according to which someone from outside interferes in the internal affairs of Kazakhstan, organizes strikes, rallies, and protests – after all, it all began with them… The meeting took place, if I’m not mistaken, on January 6th. Essentially, the European Union’s assessment of what is happening in our country is similar. Not a single European government, not a single country in the world has spoken out about the violation of human rights in Kazakhstan. If what is happening now in Kazakhstan, as they say in the press now, had been planned from the outside, then from the very beginning there would have been a lot of hype in the American and European press about this. Statements would be made at the UN, some other loud statements would be made … The entire diplomatic part of the countries, as well as those connected with the media, would already be making noise, shouting about what is happening. In addition, it should be borne in mind that this movement has no leaders. The workers of the Mangistau region rose up to protest spontaneously, since there is no leader, no party, no political forces in Kazakhstan capable of coordinating the protest, now there is no political force in the political field. Why? The fact is that the entire political field in Kazakhstan has long been cleared of dissenting elements by the ruling regime. All opposition organizations and movements were liquidated. The Communist Party of Kazakhstan, the last opposition party, was liquidated in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court back in 2015. All independent trade unions and all public organizations were also destroyed. Even the bourgeois liberal opposition. That is, those who consider themselves allegedly with liberal-democratic groups inside Kazakhstan are front organizations created by the National Security Committee, the authorities. That is, in fact, the political field has been completely cleaned out and therefore this movement developed from below, in fact, without political leadership without leaders, this once again suggests that there was no outside influence and is not present at the moment.


– In this case, we are dealing with a real revolutionary situation when leaders emerge from the bottom in a spontaneous way?

– Of course, this can be compared with the February revolution of 1917, where there were also no bright political forces that would have led this speech from the very beginning. We call this a social explosion or popular uprising, but without any vividly expressed political participation, even a trade union.

-Do you know the leaders or those who now have a finger on the pulse of the protest process and can lead some part of the movement?

-There were repressed leaders of independent trade unions, but they have disappeared over the past few days, in particular, we are talking about Amina Elusinov, this is the leader of the trade union of workers of the Fuel and Energy Complex, and Kuspan Kosshygulov, he is also one of the leaders. I think they were kidnapped by the special services and are being held, maybe even physically destroyed.

– So it’s like death squads in Latin America?

-Yes. Why not? Because the post-Soviet space, which followed the path of capitalism, the restoration of capitalism naturally builds up regimes of the Latin American model.

-Ainur, can you comment on the opinion that appears very often – from eyewitnesses of the initial events, before January 5. It consists in the fact that, until a certain moment, a powerful peaceful protest that is gaining strength throughout the country, having an international, class character, is being cynically used by someone for the sake of bloody power games?

– To some extent, there is an element of this. In full, bloody, fierce events took place in Alma-Ata, but initially the protest itself was peaceful, but according to many eyewitnesses, there really were organized provocateurs among the protesters who acted in a coordinated manner; that is, they attacked establishments, setting fire to cars, trashing shops, creating chaos. Precisely in order to create the appearance of mass riots, in order to discredit the protest itself throughout Kazakhstan and the strike of the same oil and metallurgical workers. I’m not talking about everyone, because because indeed the bulk of all the protesters on the 4th, 5th and 6th in Alma-Ata were mainly young Kazakhs, from the countryside, who were forced to migrate to cities, in particular in Almaty in looking for work. In Alma-Ata, there has long been such a huge mass of residents called internal migrants, this is a ghetto around Alma-Ata where about a million, even one and a half million people live, these are just those who made up the bulk of the protesters, internal migrants in the second in the third generation, or only recently arrived young people from rural areas without work. Since they live on the brink of poverty, in fact, this is a proletariat, many of which are really marginalized or lumpenized, naturally, since they are not organized, unlike the oil workers or metallurgists and miners of the Karaganda region where everything was disciplined, where there were no pogroms, not a single one. The building was not destroyed, not a single arson, not a single pogrom – here, naturally, since it was precisely a spontaneous demonstration of an unorganized mass, the protest eventually resulted in such fierce opposition to the police. Naturally, both marauders and criminals entered the milieu of young workers. Among the healthy elements, in general, there is always some percentage of the most amenable to the general impulse and ready for unexpected behavior. Such events are characteristic of a spontaneously organized process in general. Not only in Kazakhstan, but also in Kyrgyzstan, there were such events – during the “color revolution” of 2010. … Just like there, the accumulated class hatred of the most socially unprotected groups of the population spilled over into officials and jewelry stores. Not only – to rob. And because the accumulated rage of people was looking for a way out. And, naturally, we cannot rule out the fact that there were no provocateurs here. But they did not make up the majority. And then President Tokayev in his speeches, taking advantage of these pogroms and individual cases of looting, declared that these were international terrorists. There were words about almost 20,000 militants who crossed the border and arrived. It is clear that the ruling elites, taking advantage of the acute situation among the masses, started a war with each other up there.

– How important is the role of the “political clan duel between Nazarbayev and Tokayev”, which many analysts on the “media market” talk about in today’s events?

– It is, of course, difficult to say for sure about this. One thing is clear: the street riots that took place along with the protest were hastened to be used by some groups at the top – for the purpose of an internal, narrow, coup – within the ruling family. No, one cannot say that there was a duel between the Nazarbayev and Tokayev clan. Everything here is very contradictory, I don’t even think that it is worthwhile to understand the question in this way. Tokayev is a dependent person, so most likely it was a confrontation between several groups within a narrow circle of people close to Nazarbayev. In which, perhaps, Nazarbayev himself participated, – gave instructions…


– That is, the situation as a whole is as follows: In parallel, and in pursuit of the protest, there is an undercover struggle of the power elites, to which the clan attracts representatives of the bourgeois ruling elite of the neighboring state. – Please tell me, Ainur, in your opinion, what can the workers oppose them at this stage of the protest? And is it possible in such conditions to competently behave for the working people, realizing that their protest is trying to use the elite groups against whom it is directed – for their own purposes?

– Oh sure. We are witnessing a vivid illustration of the collusion of the ruling elites. It is clear – they understood that the situation in Kazakhstan was heading for a revolution. All cities in Kazakhstan were covered with protests and rallies. That is why it happened as I described above. This is one of the most important and more plausible versions that the media resources, one way or another, wanted to discredit these mass demonstrations, massive strikes that paralyzed the entire mining industry in the region. And also to discredit and drown in blood all the rallies that took place in different cities of Kazakhstan. And for this it was necessary to demonize the protesters, turning them into terrorists, pogromists and marauders. Unfortunately, they succeeded to some extent. We need to expose such propaganda attempts, information of protests to street riots. Do not get tired wherever you can expose all these insinuations.

– Literally today, our political comrades-in-arms from Kyrgyzstan told us that in their country they are actively recruiting professional military volunteers to take part in suppressing unrest in Kazakhstan. In what ways can the collusion of the ruling international bourgeois elites be resisted today? What needs to be done so that the scenario necessary for them does not happen: so that the Kazakhs do not begin to perceive Russians, Kyrgyz, etc. as their enemies?

– To this the working people can only oppose their international solidarity. The union of the bourgeoisie, their close bond, can only be opposed by the effective solidarity of the working people. And here one more important point should be noted. What happened revealed great ideological and political contradictions that were revealed in today’s communist and left movement in general. We see, for example, that such parties as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in Russia, and after them a number of other leftist organizations – well, or nominally “leftists” – have come out directly in defense of the Nazarbayev regime. Or – in support of the Putin government. They also supported the invasion of Kazakhstan by the CSTO forces. And, moreover, these “pseudo-left” forces, let’s call them that, took an active part in the process of demonizing popular protests in Kazakhstan – completely abandoning the class approach and analysis, from supporting the labor movement in Kazakhstan, – without separating provocateurs and workers motion. They became the backbone of the bourgeoisie, no matter which one. Western, or Russian. Because you correctly noted that there is a unity of the ruling classes – European, American and Russian in assessing the events in Kazakhstan. This once again shows that there was no preliminary foreign policy agreement and external influence in relation to Kazakhstan. These events came as a surprise to everyone, and the left forces, many of them, did not know how to react to this for a long time. At the last moment, morally and politically, they fully supported the ruling class. Following its, in theory, class adversary – the Russian ruling minority, which supports the Nazarbayev clan diplomatically and militarily.

The support of the ruling regime in Kazakhstan was supported by such figures as a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Dmitry Novikov – the deputy head of the State Duma’s security committee … Unfortunately, large trade unions have kept silent for the time being, as the rest of the leading left parties have kept silent. This once again showed that the working class now, both in the post-Soviet countries and in the rest of the world, unfortunately has no experience of manifesting solidarity. But this just shows us in what respect it is necessary to work.

– We will work together, Comrade Kurmanov.

– Yes! This is a fundamental issue of the international communist movement, since it is precisely the lack of international solidarity of workers that leads to the victory of the intervention to the victory of the bourgeois forces, which will eventually suppress any revolutionary process in any part of the world, not only in Kazakhstan or, but in the territory of the post-Soviet space.

-What are the actual figures of your fellow citizens who have died and gone missing from the repressive actions of the reactionary state apparatus at the moment?

– Unfortunately, here you can only guess, because no one will tell you the real numbers. However, it can be roughly judged based on the official data that are available at the moment. According to them, the number of real victims is 164 people. In addition, the Ministry of Defense announced the deaths of two military personnel and another 163 injured. This, of course, is not a comparable number: the number of victims by the protesters is 164 civilians, and only two soldiers … By the way, the “fake” news of the official Kazakh media that two policemen had their heads cut off was not confirmed. In any case, the fact that this is someone’s stuffing is evidenced by the fact that no information was received from the official media in response to the request for a slightly more detailed confirmation of the information.

– We heard that there were cases when in some regions or cities of Kazakhstan the security forces went over to the side of citizens?

– Yes, there really were such cases, partly in Aktyubinsk, partly in Alma-Ata. However, they did not go over to the side of the people actively, they simply refused to take part in the suppression of the protest. They just got involved in the overall process. Someone tore off their insignia … Perhaps, somewhere pointwise, some of them took part in further rallies, but groups of former security officials were not noticed in active protest actions. Apparently, these are actually small groups. Basically, those who refused to continue participating in the suppression of the protest fled, threw ammunition, special. Means, batons, helmets…

– What percentage of protesters represent the interests of workers, workers’ trade unions, or sympathizers of progressive political forces?

– It is difficult to determine exactly what percentage – it all depends on the place. If we take the West Kazakhstan regions, where it all began, the bulk of the protesters there are just the striking oil workers. They were the core of all protests and rallies. Then, of course, other groups of citizens joined them: pensioners, unemployed. However, the backbone of all those who protested in the West Kazakhstan region were the striking oil workers of the main production facilities and service companies. If we consider the central regions of Kazakhstan, the Karaganda region, there is exactly the same. If these are single-industry towns created around city-forming enterprises, the main participants in the protest movement are also oil workers, metallurgists, mine workers and their families. As for Alma-Ata itself and some cities of southern Kazakhstan – Shymkent, Taraz, Taldy-Korgan, in which the social composition is generally very mixed, the most active protests were mainly representatives of “internal migrants”. These are mainly able-bodied young people from agricultural regions, who are forced to move to cities in search of work, to join the ranks of low-paid, low-skilled workers. These are the ones who are usually called lumpen proletarians. Therefore, their struggle took on a more fierce, bloodier character. As a result, the whole country was covered with rallies.


– Are there any chances for the current popular protest of Kazakhstan to move into the phase of the programmatic class struggle? Will not the protest potential, which began to manifest itself in the second half of last year, drown in blood and chaos – and then in the near future these events will be assessed as temporary crisis destabilization?

– Certainly. Like any popular protest that naturally arose from the depths of the working masses. Especially when you consider that the tone for the general movement in Kazakhstan was set precisely by the striking workers of the city of Zhanaozen, which has experience in the class struggle for their rights. There was already the experience of a constantly fueled, round-the-clock protest movement. In fact, the rally lasting several days, taking place in Zhanaozen, set fire to the entire Mangystown region, and spread to the whole country. So, without risking being exposed in the use of political clichés, let’s say: the protest of the working people, which came from there, is certainly capable of moving into the phase of the programmatic class struggle.

– What do the working people of Kazakhstan need in the near future so that events do not drown in blood and chaos, and in the near future develop into something big – into a Revolution?

– It all depends on the organization of the workers. The more organized the working people are, the more united they are, have a single program, and are able to coordinate their actions. The less bloody everything will pass. And the less organized (which, unfortunately, the events in Alma-Ata showed), the more the movement is prone to a large number of holes, to massive collisions, etc. The authorities did all this in order to deprive the protest movement of the working people of the workers’ leadership. But, on the other hand, they did themselves a disservice. By destroying the opposition, destroying the left-wing parties and labor unions, they thus deprived themselves of the opportunity to negotiate. Yes, the workers had their own grassroots leaders. But they were not structured into trade unions, committees. Councils began to emerge already in the course of the protest, their initiators and organizers were initiative groups at enterprises. And naturally, neither the authorities nor employers had anyone to negotiate with. I think that, on the one hand, this is a plus: they could not capture and kill any of the leaders. How four union leaders were kidnapped – which helped radicalize the protest. The representatives of the authorities at a certain level simply had no one with whom to resolve issues on socio-economic requirements. Well, and, accordingly, one must understand that the rise in gas prices served only as a pretext, impetus, the last straw. This should not be seen as the main reason for the protests. People got tired of a series of promotions, and then, – the social protest grew into a political one, demanding the resignation of the incumbent president, and, naturally, Nazarbayev. Because Nazarbayev and his family have become the main irritant, the main enemy for the working people. It is in this context that one should understand the demand of Kazakhstani workers – “Shal, ket!”, Which in translation from Kazakh means – “Old man, go away!” It became a concentrated protest slogan that emerged from the depths of the masses. Demanding the departure of all family members of the clan, which has ruled so hideously in recent years.

January 9, 2022
Interviewed by Alyona Ageeva
specially for

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