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Moldova - How protesters in Kazakhstan knocked out lower gas prices from the authorities

Moldova (bbabo.net), - 2022 began restlessly in Kazakhstan. In many cities, rallies and protests have been held since January 2, caused by the rise in prices for liquefied gas at gas stations in the Mangistau region. It was there that the protests began - and there they are most widespread. All in all, there are several thousand protesters across the country. In turn, the police detain the most ardent activists and cordon off the main squares of the cities.

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On the third day of protests, the authorities backed down and promised to cut prices. "Komsomolskaya Pravda" understood what caused the rallies and how the people managed to achieve their goal.

WHAT WE ARE DISAPPOINTED

Since the beginning of 2022, prices for liquefied gas have surged upwards. The protesters say that prices have doubled: from 50-60 tenge to 120 tenge (a little more than 20 rubles) per liter. This happened due to the fact that the authorities decided to "release" prices. Now fuel is freely sold at electronic auctions, and the authorities, republican or regional, do not participate in pricing in any way, because gas, which is popular with local drivers, is classified as a competitive product.

“Before the transition to electronic trading, liquefied petroleum gas was sold to consumers at a price below cost, which was unprofitable for producers,” the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan said in a statement.

It is worth noting that 120 tenge per liter, which forced people in the Mangistau region to take to the streets, is a common thing for their neighbors. In the neighboring Atyrau region, the average price per liter of gas is 115 tenge, even further north in the West Kazakhstan region - the same 120.

The authorities claim that they "released" prices not only out of an abstract love for the free market. The fact is that in conditions of negative profitability, manufacturers have no interest in developing their capacities.

“Our gas processing plant has been operating since 1973, the wear and tear of equipment on it is 90%,” says Berdibek Kartbaev, head of the energy and housing and communal services department of the Mangistau region. - If you do not start doing something now, in the near future the region is threatened with a shutdown of the plant and a shortage of liquefied gas.

To understand the order of prices, it is difficult to find something in the country that could be bought for 100 tenge.

“Soda is more expensive, milk is more expensive, although the cost of both is lower than that of liquefied gas,” notes oil and gas industry expert Olzhas Baydildinov.

WHO'S PROTESTING

Although protests have engulfed several cities in the country, including Nur-Sultan and Almaty, the center - and originator - is the Mangistau region in the southwest. Although this region is quite different from the rest of Kazakhstan, first of all, the standard of living. Here gas and oil are produced on the Caspian shelf - the regional center Aktau (Shevchenko in Soviet times) stands on the Caspian coast, here, in the city of Zhanaozen, there is the country's only gas processing plant.

“In Zhanaozen, the average salary is 505 thousand tenge (85.9 thousand rubles) per month, while the national average is about 250 thousand (42.5 thousand rubles) per month,” says oil and gas industry expert Olzhas Baidildinov. - And it is here that people come out with a demand to lower prices for liquefied gas. This is strange for me, because Zhanaozen is part of Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan is part of the regional and global economy. We cannot live in isolation from the rest of the world.

However, where people have the opportunity to earn a lot, as a rule, there is also a serious stratification in the income of the population. This situation is typical for the whole of Kazakhstan, but it is in the industrially developed Mangistau region that it looks most acute.

Finally, it is worth recalling that it was here that some of the largest protests in the history of modern Kazakhstan flared up. In December 2011, oil workers took to the streets demanding higher wages and decent working conditions. What began as a peaceful demonstration turned into riots that killed 70 people and arrested hundreds. Zhanaozen was also the center of those events.

WHAT HAVE GOVERNED

The authorities made concessions. As a result of negotiations between the government commission and the initiative group of Aktau residents, it was decided not only to limit the rise in prices, but to establish a single price tag for the Mangistau region. Now a liter of liquefied gas there will cost 50 tenge (8.5 rubles). It was announced that this is desired "within the framework of social responsibility" of the Kazmunaigas company. Considering that this is a Kazakhstani "Gazprom" controlled by the state, it is clear that the financial burden from such a decision will fall on the republican treasury.

In addition, the authorities gave guarantees that the protesters would not be held criminally or administratively liable.

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Moldova - How protesters in Kazakhstan knocked out lower gas prices from the authorities