Americans expected less voter turnout in Zhanaozen 16 января 2012, 15:57
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Executive Director of the U.S. Institute of New Democracies Margarita Assenova. Photo by Renat Tashkinbayev©
Observers from the U.S. mission expected less voter turnout in Zhanaozen, Tengrinews.kz reports from the briefing in Aktau.
“Frankly speaking, it is unusual to have 60-70 percent voter turnout in a town under a state of emergency. We did not expect it. We thought it would be less,” Executive Director of the U.S. Institute of New Democracies Margarita Assenova said. “They (Zhanaozen residents) were very happy to have the elections held in Zhanaozen. They told us: “We are happy with this decision, happy that our votes count.” They took the elections process very seriously.”
American observers noted that despite of the state of emergency in Zhanaozen, they did not feel any discomfort being there.
“We noticed a lot of police and internal Interior Ministry troops in Zhanaozen, at every street, at squares, but they were none of them at the polling stations. Police stood far away from the stations and got into the school yards very rarely. I once lived under a state of emergency in Bulgaria in 1984-1986 and I also saw the situation in Kosovo in 1997. The situation in Zhanaozen is very different and I think that we have to give a credit to Zhanaozen residents, as they immediately started working on the town’s restoration,” Assenova shared her observations.
She also share about her impression from talking with Zhanaozen residents. “People spoke of what happened and how they were hurt, said that many people died and they could not understand why and how everything happened. They want to know the answers; they have many questions and disappointment right now. The situation is very complicated. Zhanaozen problems are very serious: the town is growing and the infrastructure is not. People’s lives have to be improved; they deserve a life like in Aktau and other Kazakhstan cities. The town cannot live under such a pressure for a long time. There is a program for Zhanaozen development. I think the work has already started.”