FOLLOWING TWO weeks' imprisonment, Ainur Kurmanov, a well-known journalist and socialist activist, was released on 12 May.
Ainur was arrested and charged with "organising a picket" in front of the Temir Bank in Almaty and given a maximum sentence of a fortnight imprisonment. The picket was actually organised by the opposition social movement, 'Kazakhstan 2012', to protest over home repossessions.
Ainur was not organising the picket but he was there in his capacity as a journalist. Ainur went on hunger strike in protest at his imprisonment. An appeal was made against Ainur's sentence but rejected.
Many protests from around the world were sent to the Kazakhstan authorities over Ainur's jailing and also to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Kazakhstan chairs.
On his release, Ainur made the following statement:
"I was released from the special prison for those tried for 'administrative crimes', having been there for 15 days. As a protest against the frame up by the government, I maintained a hunger strike throughout my sentence.
Whilst I was in prison, Yesenbek Ukteshbaev, leader of the protest movement 'Defend People's Homes' was also sentenced to five days and began a hunger strike in solidarity. Notwithstanding the pressure of the state, we gained a moral victory in our resistance, winning the sympathy and support of new people and protest groups.
The arrest and trial has only hardened our activists and demonstrated, once again, the real nature of this state, which is directly representing the interests of the finance and trade magnates. Moreover it has shown the weakness of the authorities who, through their 'preventative arrests', attempted to prevent the demonstration taking place on 1 May.
As we can see, all the efforts of the gendarmes proved pointless; we once again demonstrated our strength and unity. We want to express our thanks to all activists who have participated in the solidarity campaign with the arrested Kazakhstan socialists.
In particular, we want to highlight the support from our comrades from Russia and the other sections of the CWI, from Austria, Britain, Germany, Canada, US, South Africa, Nigeria, Australia, Sri Lanka and other countries, as well as trade unions from Europe and Russia and the MEP, Joe Higgins. Pickets were organised in Austria outside the OSCE building and at the Kazakhstan embassy in Vienna.
On 4 May, in Moscow, a picket was held at the Kazakhstan Embassy. Other support came from activists of other organisations, such as Vpered, RRP and the AKM, and from other left groups.
On 4 May, our comrades in Almaty organised a protest outside the city court. This followed the mass protest outside the Head Office of Temir Bank on 30 April. On 1 May, a united demonstration of all the democratic opposition parties took place. As a result of all these activities, our comrades from the rights organisation, 'Talmas', for the first time in Kazakhstan, managed to achieve the personal participation of the arrested in their own appeals hearings.
We will develop and increase our activities, build and extend the forces of the "Kazakhstan 2012" movement, which we see as laying the basis for the creation of a new party of workers on a socialist programme. Our struggle continues, comrades! Let's get back to work!"
PETER TAAFFE - general secretary of the Socialist Party England and Wales and member of the CWI's International Secretariat - on a recent visit to Kazakhstan interviewed Yesenbek Ukteshbaev and Vadim Kuramskin.
Both are important activists in the workers' movement and participants in 'Kazakhstan 2012', the workers' and popular opposition party intending to stand against president Nursultan Nazarbayev in the 2012 Kazakhstan elections. Both are being hounded by the regime.
Yesenbek is the joint chair of the strike committee of the YRYSTY Almatinskii Train Wagon Repair Factory in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where workers took part in a two month strike last summer with the demand to nationalise the factory under workers' control.
Vadim Kuramskin only recently finished a three-year jail sentence after being found guilty on a trumped-up charge of 'libelling' the regime of president Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The interviews can be read on: www.socialistworld.net/doc/4254