Minister: Riots in Zhanaozen withdrew Kazakhstan from state of complacency

Minister: Riots in Zhanaozen withdrew Kazakhstan from state of complacency

Kazakhstan, Astana, Dec. 24 / Trend D. Mukhtarov /

The riots in Zhanaozen withdrew Kazakhstan from its state of complacency and forced it to give serious thought to the incident that took place there, Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov believes. He stated this in his article "The Lessons of Zhanaozen," which was spread by the press service of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry.

One year has passed since the riots in Zhanaozen in western Kazakhstan marred national celebrations of the 20th anniversary of independence on December 16, 2011. The protracted labor dispute between workers and the management of an oil company resulted in mass protests and clashes with the police, causing the deaths of 16 people and the injury of many others.

"These acts of violence and the deaths of citizens have no analogues in the short history of our state and shocked the friends of Kazakhstan all over the world. However, the domestic consequences were more serious", the minister said.

He reminded that a special public commission led a 3 month investigation of the riots. Criminal cases were filed in regard to a number of individuals for intentional inflammation and the provocation of violence.

The minister stressed that it quickly became clear that the country's security forces needed additional preparation, training, and equipment in order to react appropriately to the behavior of citizens during unrest.

He said the government immediately audited its methods of response and intend to adopt the best international methods of crowd control aimed at causing minimum damage to participants.

"Secondly, additional funds were invested in the construction of housing, kindergartens and hospitals, which, among other things, paved the way for the creation of hundreds of new permanent jobs for doctors and teachers. Due to active measures in the government, including the allocation of loans totaling $64 million for diversification of the local economy, more than five thousand new jobs were created in 2012, "Yerlan Idrisov's article stated.

Moreover, drastic changes were made in the local government for a more operative response to the problems and needs of the local community.

"At the same time, it became evident that the exposed issues do not affect only Zhanaozen or the Mangistau region, but are widespread across the country. They are typical for cities, dependent on one field of production or one company. This required major reforms in a wider political sense", the head of the Foreign Ministry said.

He said the government spends more than eight billion to create jobs and support companies in 20 industry towns.

"Following its thorough and lengthy development, we will soon submit a plan for a fundamental restructuring of regional development policy. We also intend to decentralize the decision-making procedure and want to delegate responsibilities to local authorities in some cases. The government understands that very often the local leaders are able to work out the best solutions to their problems, "he concluded.

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