The Other Side of Oil
December 7, 2020
Virtual event hosted by The George Washington University’s Central Asia Program and Crude Accountability presenting The Other Side of Oil, a documentary film which raises the important issues of environmental degradation, social justice, and poverty. Through striking images of the landscape of Kazakhstan and depictions of the lives of ordinary villagers, the film includes extensive interviews with people who live in the shadow of the richest oil reserves in the country.
For local residents, close proximity to oil sites cause a multitude of health problems, diseases among livestock, deaths of livestock, a loss of livelihood, water pollution, and many other examples of environmental degradation.
Director Lukpan Akhmedyarov and videographer Raul Uporov of Uralsk Weekly newspaper, and Sergey Solyanik, consultant to Crude Accountability, discussed the film on Wednesday, December 2.
The film crew visited three regions of Western Kazakhstan – Aktyubinsk, Mangystau, and Atyrau regions. Each of these territories is rich in oil reserves and, therefore, attractive to foreign investors. Most of the oil sites mentioned in the documentary have been developed by the subsidiaries of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC).
About the speakers:
Kate Watters, Executive Director, Crude Accountability. Kate Watters is co-founder of Crude Accountability and has served as the executive director since its founding in 2003. Kate oversees the management and development of the organization, working with staff and board to build sustainable and effective programs and campaigns. She works closely with activists in affected communities to develop strategies and actions to protect environmental and human rights on the local, national, and international levels. She has worked with human rights and environmental defenders in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Russia since the early 1990s, has lived in and traveled extensively throughout the region, and speaks fluent Russian. She is the author of numerous reports and articles on civil society in Central Asia and the Caspian region and has been interviewed for print media, radio, and television about the environment, oil and gas, and human rights in the region. Kate holds an MA in Russian Area Studies from Georgetown University and a BA in Russian literature from UMASS-Amherst.
Lukpan Akhmedyarov, Editor in Chief, Uralsk Weekly. Lukpan has been a journalist for the past 18 years, and has reported extensively on oil and gas, corruption, and other issues in Western Kazakhstan. He is a graduated of the School of Multi-media journalism IMedia 2017, supported by the Soros-Kazakhstan Fund, and has a degree in Geography and Biology. Lukpan was the recipient of the 2012 Peter Mackler Award for Journalists from Reporters without Borders. He is the director of “The Other Side of Oil,” and a member of Crude Accountability’s board of directors.
Raul Uporov, Editor of Uralsk Weekly. Raul is a documentary photographer and photojournalist, and has worked at Uralsk Weekly since 2007. Raul is a 2016 finalist in the international competition of human rights photography and is a 2017 graduate of the School of Multi-media journalism IMedia, supporte by the Soros-Kazakhstan Fund. Raul is the author of three documentary films: Samozanyatia, Pustoi zvon medalei, and The Other Side of Oil.
Sergey Solyanik, Consultant to Crude Accountability. Sergey is consultant to Crude Accountability since 2009, and is responsible for the organization’s activities in Kazakhstan, including its research on Chinese investments in oil and gas. He has been an active participant in Kazakhstan’s environmental movement since 1990. For nearly twenty years he worked at the Ecological Society Green Salvation, one of the oldest and most respected public environmental organizations in the country. Sergey has a degree in electrical engineering and a Masters in Environmental Politics from Keele University in the UK, which he studied under a Chevening Scholarship granted by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
About the Moderator:
Sebastien Peyrouse, PhD, is a research professor at the Central Asia Program in the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (George Washington University). His main areas of expertise are political systems in Central Asia, economic and social issues, Islam and religious minorities, and Central Asia’s geopolitical positioning toward China, India and South Asia.