In the spring of 2011, a group of oil workers in Western Kazakhstan went on strike. They were working in one of the richest countries in the former Soviet Union, in dangerous conditions, in a hugely profitable industry, and yet they were being paid less than £450 a month. They wanted a raise and stayed on strike for seven months. That December, KazMunaiGaz, the state-owned oil company – headed by President Nazarbayev’s son-in-law – decided enough was enough: the police came to a meeting and fired on the strikers with live ammunition. At least 16 workers were killed, possibly more.
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