A-INFOS NEWS SERVICE
------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Break the information blockade on repression in Kazakhstan. Free Kurmanov, Kolokolov and Nikolaev!
Press release by the International Committee for Workers' Rights, 22 January 1998
Four months ago, on September 19th 1997, three young opposition activists (Ionur Kurmanov - 21, Sergei Kolokolov - late 20s and Vasilii Nikolaev 16) in the city of Uralsk, West Kazakhstan were arrested. Since then, the first two have been held in appalling conditions in the City's Remand Prison. Nikolaev is too young to be held in prison.
The arrests arise after anti- government graffitti appeared on buildings in Uralsk in May. Kurmanov, who is 20 and Kolokolov, in his late 20s face four serious criminal charges (forming a criminal gang, insulting the President, serious hooliganism and misleading youth) all of which carry sentences of 5 to 15 years.
These trumped-up charges, far more severe than the alleged crimes, are intended to silence opposition to the Nazurbayev government in Uralsk. They are particularly aimed at Kurmanov, who has been the subject of several physical and judicial attacks by the state. He is a leader of the Republican Young Communists and was actively involved in a number of strikes against the non-payment of wages at his workplace in the first half of 1997.
Kolokolov - seriously ill due to mistreatment
After several delays, their trial started on 22nd December but was adjourned on December 25th after Sergei Kolokolov proved too ill to continue. On December 24th, the judge refused permission to Kolokolov's mother to give him warm clothing. On the 25th, he was taken to prison hospital with acute kidney pains and swelling of the urinary tract. Local supporters believe that Sergei's condition is due to his mistreatment whilst in prison. This possibility is backed up by Amnesty International Report No. EUR 57/10/96 which describes Kazakhstan's pre-trial system as "a brutal regime ..., including deliberate ill-treatment of prisoners and appalling conditions of detention which amount to ill treatment".
A confession was forced out of Sergei after his advocate was removed from the case by the police. They then threatened to jail him for 20 years if he did not confess. However, no witnesses have been able to identify Sergei as one of those seen painting the graffitti and the forensic expert called to analyse the only material evidence against Sergei (a spot of red paint on his shoes) testified that the paint was only of a similar type used and not identical. In court, Kolokolov refused to confirm his earlier confession, claiming it had been forced from him.
Kurmanov - rejects accusations
Kurmanov has consistently refused to accept responsibility for the graffitti. No witnesses have been able to identify him and during the trial, the only physical evidence against him - fingerprints on one of the leaflets - were shown to have appeared after he was handed the leaflet during interrogation.
25-day hunger strike
From the 1st to the 25th December, Kurmanov was on hunger strike, protesting his innocence, only suspending the strike as a result of the insistence of his supporters. He promises to resume the hunger strike if he considers the final verdict unjust. As a result of the strike, his eyesight is already severely damaged.
The trial is set to resume on January 19th. The regime has been caught unawares by the number of protests it has received about this case from all over the world - including protests sent from Pakistan, Brazil, Japan, the US and many other countries. However, the Kazakhstan mass media, which is forced to operate within a strict strait jacket has carried no information about this case. Supporters of Kurmanov and Kolokolov however will not remain silent about this brutal attempt to silence workers opposition to the policies of the Nazurbayev regime. Supporters are demanding: The immediate release of Kurmanov, Kolokolov and Nikolaev. The dropping all charges against them. An end to political repression in Kazakhstan. The immediate resignation of Nazurbayev and his government.
For further information in English or Russian, Contact Rob Jones on Moscow 095-1514371 Or in Russian in Uralsk from Shamen, Vasilii Ivanovich on 31122-21963 or Almata from Vinkov, Yuri Vladimirovich on 3272 232266. In the US, call International Committee for Workers' Rights at: 718 204 2506
Protests can be sent to:
In the US: Send letters and faxes to
Fax: 202 333-4509 and to the
Consulate of the Republic of Kazakhstan in New York:
Fax: 212 888 3025.
INTERNATIONAL COMMITTTEE FOR WORKERS' RIGHTS
Phone: 718 204 2506 Fax: 718 956 7748
A right-wing attack on the Kazakhstan working-class left
A-INFOS NEWS SERVICE
Well, certainly the situation in Kazakhstan for political activists is deplorable. The same can be said of other places in Central Asia. Still, a bit of a comment on the material forwarded onto this list.
The first thing that everybody should be clear on is what a young communist (Komsomolets) is (the arrested, after all, were not anarchists but commies). The Komsomol was the official youth organization of the former Soviet Union. The current komsomol members consider themselves to be a revolutionary group against capitalism and "the bourgeoisie." This is where ANY common ground with anarchists ends. Generally these are young people, ready to be radical but whom lack any coherent ideas or plan of action and are thus often manipulated by the party bureaucrats of such disgusting structures of like the RKRP and even worse. Being disenfranchised from the so-called promised land of new Russian capitalism, they decry the rich, capitalism and the bourgeosie, often falling into simply national liberation rhetoric. While the rare Komsomol member may have some brain activity, for the most part they do not have any idea of their alternative to this order, and, if they do, it often is so much different than what an anarchist envisions as freedom based on cooperation and mutual aid that there should be no illusions on where they fall in the authoritarian/anti-authoritarian spectrum of politics.
As we can see from one of the messages, relations with anarchists can be downright enemical. True, some folks (not the brightest I've ever met I assure you) have relations with these people because they think that they should unite against the bourgeois bogeyman. This is an anarchist tradition in Russia where the pro-Bolshevik (or apologist) anarchists were spared immediate repression while the rest (as we know, the ones who didn't want to work in cohoots with those communist slime) rotted away in jail, where deported, persecuted, starved or killed. This is what I feel would be the evitable result of any cooperation with these sorts (although revolution is a long shot these days). So my feelings about such political prisoners are complex. I do not agree with police repression but half of the so-called commie kids around the X flow freely back and forth between authoritarian, national, state capitalist groups and authoritarian, national, state socialist groups, so they are potential executioners. Do I wanna make any special effort on their behalf?
If you wanna fight for justice in Kazakhstan or any part of the X (Belarus, Russia...), there are tons of political prisoners or people such as journalists repressed and even killed by the state. As far as young commies go, we have four unfortunates here in Lefortovo being totally railroaded and some being charged for crimes (like assassination) that they didn't commit. In general I agree that people should know about these repressions and be concerned. But why should anarchist resources be used to help out people whom, for all I know, would spit on us walking down the street, or worse?
I don't know about the person who posted this, but I know Mr.Jones, Militant flunkie and legendary vanguard leader. Robert, I hope you're reading this: you've organized anti-fascist groups with fascists in them and maybe the Komsomol and all that shit is fine for you, but you know perfectly well that we want none of them, nor do we have much tolerance for vanguard parties, patriotic reactionaries, control freak commies and the like. You all like to use anti-anarchist propaganda when it fits your agenda and use anarchist propaganda to trick the semi-literate assholes around us into thinking that our goals are the same. You need a few warm bodies to sign up for your organizations - fine, go to it, but that's what your relation to anarchists are; if they'll sign up and don't think too much, fine, but otherwise they're sectarian bourgeois idiots, not the kind of people any of the "real socialists" would care to do anything with. (Not that we'd want them to!)
Again, I'm sorry about the repression and I don't know who posted this but I'm tired of commies sending out appeals to me; half the time (although admittedly not in this case) they even obscure who the people in trouble are. It's a real exploitative, opportunistic and unreciprocal use of anarchist resources.