On May 19, 2016, the Director of Crude Accountability and our partners from the Children or Oil? consortium had a run-in with the migration police while on a trip to Aksai, Kazakhstan. An Azattyq reporter in Uralsk, Sanat Urnaliev, covered the story. Below is a translation of the article into English.
Employees of the migration police of West-Kazakhstan Oblast (WKO) demanded an explanation of the purpose of a stay in Kazakhstan by the director of the Washington-based environmental advocacy organization Crude Accountability Kate Watters, along with two Russian environmental activists, Denis Kopeikin, the chairman of the the Eremurus Ecoclub, and Victoria Kopeikina, secretary of the CIS Alliance for Biosafety. This was reported to Azattyk by Sergei Solyanik, consultant for Crude Accountability.
According to Solyanik, the environmentalists went to Aksai, a city neighboring the village of Berezovka, to shoot a film about local environmental activist Svetlana Anosova and the resettlement of Berezovka residents. After their arrival at the hotel, they were visited by Major Asel Antazieva of the migration police, who demanded a written explanation of the purpose of their stay in the city and seized their migration cards.
The police officer explained that her actions were related to a special operation having to do with illegal migrants and asked the environmentalists to go with her to the police station. The environmentalists refused to go to the police station without a lawyer and consulted with their lawyers. After a while, according to Solyanik, the environmentalists got their cards back and received an apology.
In late November 2014, in the village of Berezovka, there was a mass poisoning of students at the local school. The villagers attributed the incident to emissions from the nearby Karachaganak gas condensate field. Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, the developer of the field, denies this, stating that on the eve of poisoning the emissions produced were in accordance with environmental regulations. In July 2015, the government of Kazakhstan decided to extend the sanitary protection zone around the field and relocate the residents of Berezovka.