The situation in Kazakhstan (2022)


Large protests in an authoritarian regime; both protestors and police officers dead, mealy-mouthed double-talk from the embattled leader, Russian military assistance…

This is some pretty epic stuff going on. But will anything really change?

There’s some poster in The Hill’s comment section that’s continually talking about “The Kazakh Mafia.” I took it as just another conspiracy - perhaps a coded reference like “The Rothschilds” or “Global Elite” - but maybe there’s something to it?

Aaaaaaand never mind my last comment. I just remembered he’s talking about the “Khazar Mafia,” and yes, that’s an anti-Semitic trope. SIGH.

If the Kazakh regime is desperate and/or pro-Russian enough to call in Russian “peacekeepers,” as they have done, then I doubt the status quo can change. Hard to imagine popular demonstrations chasing Russian troops out of a Central Asian republic.

Hard to see the Russian troops leaving when it’s over, too.

Warning: completely unsubstantiated CT follows please don protective foil headgear before proceeding

I would not be surprised if Putin encouraged this sort of unrest via social meidia precisely to get this sort of result.

Shit is getting really real:

An entirely grass-roots uprising (over fuel prices; that’s how you know it’s grass-roots. Food or fuel prices are the only issues that cause protests to rise spontaneously with no planning.) There was no organized opposition to plan protests. This was as grass-roots and spontaneous as it ever gets.

So the government says they’ve detected foreign operatives in the matter, so they call in Russia and Russia’s henchthugs (Belarus, etc.) to kill Kazakhs for them… the truth is that the foreign operatives were the Russians who were called in— you see how this works?

Just think: Almaty was the runner-up to Beijing to host the Winter Olympics next month.

I’m sure the IOC is looking at Kazakhstan and thinking “no matter how bad for PR China is, think just how much worse it could be…”

There’s another angle on this: if Russia is sending troops, is that going to stretch their military overmuch in the event of a hypothetical contemporaneous Ukraine conflict? Any experts in Russian military capabilities like to weigh in?

Our paper reported Russia is sending between 3000 and 3500 troops. I doubt they would be destabilized by this.

The protestors are upset Kazakhstan is controlled completely by 120 families. The fuel subsidy was recently stopped. It was restarted after rioting began and so is not the only reason.

Fuel prices were the match, but there was a whole pile of tinder sitting there already.

Asking for Russian troops has doomed the Kazakh oligarchs. It shows they’ve lost their grip on power. Either they’ll be overthrown by their countrymen or they’ll be overthrown by the Russians. Putin doesn’t want oligarchs who need hand holding.

While the initial uprising over LPG prices, inequalities and lack of democratic reforms does seem to be grassroots, there is no doubt to me that Tokayev is using the ongoing protests and CSTO to strengthen his rule over the security apparatus. The recent purges within the intelligence services, the cabinet reshuffle and the demotion of Nazarbayev as head of the Security Council (and of his daughter as leader of the Senate last year) seem to be pointing at a rift in elite circles with Tokayev making moves and emerging as the new strongman in a post-Nazarbayev era. However, with the Russian-led CSTO intervention, it will come at a price for Kazakh domestic and foreign policy, which had been hailed for its multidimensional and balanced relations with Russia, China and the West despite being obviously part of Russia’s sphere of influence. Expect Kazakhstan to recognize’s Russia annexation of Crimea for instance. While it is too early to predict the domestic political consequences of this uprising and what will come out of the CSTO intervention, in the end, Kazakhstan’s traditional multivectoriality and sovereignty will be the biggest losers.

Getting more interesting by the hour. Karim Massimov, former Prime Minister, former head of national intelligence (until his dismissal three days ago) and a staunch Nazarbayev ally was just arrested for “high treason”. Coming a day after Tokayev blamed the security apparatus for failing to prevent unrest, this is sounding more and more like an elite struggle and the protests (whether entirely grassroots or partially) are being used as a pretext for Tokayev to further consolidate his power (but at what cost?).

Truly interesting times for Kazakhstan:

That same link is now showing:

8000 detained now:

Here’s a recap, from the POV of the protestors:

It does rather look as though one or another faction in the elite have been trying to ride the popular wave, or use it as an excuse to get rid of the other.

Wonder if the capital city’s name will revert to Astana. Or even the original Aqmola.

Tokayev looks like a cartoon villain with that shock of white hair.