Kazakhstan protests: Corruption, unequal income distribution and lack of accountability responsible for tragic Almaty events

Peaceful protests in Kazakhstan and tragic events in Almaty on 5 January demonstrated not only people’s struggle for justice but also laid bare the government’s flawed approach to devising economic policies, said Transparency Kazakhstan.

Originally triggered by outrage over the spike in the price of liquefied petroleum gas, these protests show just how important and sensitive the issues related to subsoil management and distribution of mineral revenues are for the Kazakhstan society. People’s peaceful protest was a sincere reaction to the government’s actions, along with the unjustifiably prolonged presence of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev and his cronies in the country’s political and economic affairs.

Endemic corruption and unfair distribution of wealth were undeniably among the main causes of the demonstrations.

The violence unfortunately tainted people’s peaceful protest, bittering their hopeful call for change after many years of patience. While it is essential that perpetrators are identified and held accountable, the government of Kazakhstan must refrain from ascribing it only to a conspiracy to overthrow the government. Authorities need to ensure investigations into last week’s deadly clashes are conducted without bias and discrimination towards any particular group.

As the next step, and in order to prevent the same from happening again, Transparency Kazakhstan believes it is vital for the Government and other stakeholders to:

  1. intensify the fight against corruption with focus on the oil and gas and construction sectors;
  2. reform the judiciary system to ensure fair and just decisions;
  3. review the government’s progress in terms of implementing the EITI standard;
  4. provide absolute transparency of contracts on all mineral deposits, including for the Tengiz oil field project;
  5. Identify and recover assets lost due to corrupt transactions;
  6. publish contracts on vaccines supplied to Kazakhstan; and
  7. take action to eliminate any forms of modern slavery in Kazakhstan.