ASTANA, December 26 (Itar-Tass) —— Organized criminal groups were behind recent mass riots in Mangistau Region in western Kazakhstan that killed 16 persons, according to the latest official data, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev said on Monday.
“Now investigation is underway to reveal not only the causes but also organizers of these events. Presumably we know that organized crime gangs were behind these events. These gangs were dividing money and wanted to conceal their ‘tails’ so they instigated arsons,” he said at a meeting with government and presidential administration officials and leaders of the Nur Otan party.
“We will look into it thoroughly. We know about the ‘tails’ coming from abroad, we know what kind of subversive activities were conducted inside the country. The prosecutor general’s office along with other agencies concerned will conduct a thorough investigation,” he said.
According to the Kazakh president, the key cause of what has happened is that “government officials and managers of Samruk-Kazyn, and all who were in charge of settling labour conflicts showed irresponsibility, cheated, as a matter of fact,” Nazarbayev went on. “That is why we all must draw the moral from these events.”
“The developments in the Mangistau Region were a serious trial for the entire country,” he noted. “In the jubilee year we were faced with a challenge. The aim was to saw the seeds of discord, social, interethnic, interreligious, etc., in our society.”
He also pointed to the need to hold a transparent and fair investigation into the criminal case and to punish all those who organized or instigated these riots.
Some 16 people were killed, including 15 people in Zhanaozen and another one at the railway station Shetpe as a result of mass disorders with the participation of workers earlier fired from the oil producing plants over strikes. The actions of the criminal group, which blocked the traffic on passenger and cargo trains and staged lootings in the settlement, resulted in the use of weapons by the law enforcers. The state of emergency and a curfew were imposed by a presidential decree in Zhanaozen till January 5. As many as 16 rioters were arrested in Zhanaozen. On Monday, three policemen were arrested on abuse charges.