Protests in Kazakhstan! Why Kazakhstan?

I’m quite sure this has western backing. That’s my relatively educated and insightful opinion. A“protest” of this size coming out of nowhere? Not credible.

Let’s see what the Atlantic Council has to say?

Kazakhstan rarely makes international headlines. How unusual are these protests, and why should the West be watching? 

Very unusual. We haven’t seen major protests in Kazakhstan since the unrest in Zhanaozen ten years ago. The scale of these protests is unprecedented. A spike in fuel prices catalyzed the protests, but the causes are far deeper and the protests are globally significant. The unrest could draw in the Russians. China is undoubtedly watching with interest. 

I’d started addressing the neigbhourhood in my own words before stumbling across the Atlantic article.

My observations as follows: Kazakhstan sits right at Russia’s border. Relations are good. Western border with China. Relations are good as well. Belt and Road cooperation.

The capital has been renamed from Astana to Nur Sultan- the locale is the same

If you’ve been following along with the Syrian situation all these many years you’ll know that Astana, Khazakstan now renamed to Nur Sultan has hosted Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Last covered here just a short while ago.

What does the official response to the protests tell us about the Kazakh government/leadership?

The Kazakh leadership is out of touch with its people, but this isn’t a super authoritarian state like Belarus. So far there hasn’t been massive violence like there was in Minsk. The Kazakh government tried to dispel the protests by reducing fuel prices and offering this and that, but they’ve been too slow to pacify the protesters. 

— Melinda Haring

The situation is critical. Airports and important government offices are seized by protesters. There is a report that the military is not sure about the loyalty of the forces to the government. President Tokayev has called in security forces from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)—which means Russia and Belarus. 

— Ariel Cohen

There are reports that airplanes have been seized. Hardly indicative of run of the mill protestors

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

Al Jazeera: “Today I appealed to the heads of CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) states to assist Kazakhstan in overcoming this terrorist threat,” Tokayev said on state television early on Thursday.

“In fact, this is no longer a threat,” he added. “It is undermining the integrity of the state.”

Tokayev, who earlier imposed a nationwide state of emergency, said that terrorist groups – which he said “received extensive training abroad” – are “currently rampaging” across the country.

“They are seizing buildings and infrastructure and, most importantly, are seizing the premises where small arms are located,” he said, adding that they had also seized five planes at the airport in the country’s biggest city Almaty.

“There’s currently a battle ongoing near Almaty with the air forces of the defence ministry, a stubborn battle,” Tokayev claimed.

Kazakhstan, the ninth-largest country in the world, borders Russia to the north and China to the east and has extensive oil reserves that make it strategically and economically important.

Atlantic Council: How are Kazakhstan’s major neighbors, Russia and China, interpreting these events?

Tokayev has appealed to the members of the CSTO—the security organization that ultimately replaced the Warsaw Pact for some countries of the former Soviet Union—for help. In practice this means an appeal to Russia, the most militarily capable of these states. A Russian military intervention is unlikely, particularly given the current Russian military buildup around Ukraine, which has diverted many of the Russian forces normally stationed near the Kazakh border. However, Russia has strong interests in Kazakhstan, ranging from its Baikonur Cosmodrome spaceport to the fact that Russia often relies on Kazakh gas as a backstop for insufficient Russian production. China has a lesser but still important interest in Kazakh stability; the country supplies at least 5 percent of Chinese natural gas imports. We should expect both the CSTO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization—of which all three countries are members—to play a role in this crisis going forward. 

— Emma Ashford


President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev replaced Nursultan Nazarbayev on the post of Chairman of Security Council, he announced on Wednesday in his second address to the nation amid massive protests.

Tokayev accused “financially motivated conspirators” of influencing the riots and promised to take the toughest possible actions from now on.

Quoting, lastly, from Atlantic Council

We should be concerned about chaos not destroying the significant achievements of the people of Kazakhstan. It is a large country—three time zones—with considerable resources of oil, gas, uranium, wheat, and many other important commodities. It has an educated and tolerant people that suffered a lot in the Soviet era. The United States should definitely collect and analyze information, talk to everybody, protect considerable American investments there, and support sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the secular nature of Kazakhstan—which has excellent relations with the United States.

— Ariel Cohen

Dam the virus to hell as the attempt to redraw borders continues on. Pandemic? What pandemic?

6 replies on “Protests in Kazakhstan! Why Kazakhstan?”

Thank you Penny.
There is a lot of information here that I did not know. I appreciate your effort to provide some accurate news.

I don’t know a whole lot about those countries; I do feel that Russia is not an enemy of Canada, and that even the thing in Afghanistan was, and is, about American thirst for (control of) oil — has always been since the pretence of searching for Bin Laden — and due to attempts to run a pipeline down through there from Russia to the Indian Ocean.

But this mystifying inner termoil in Kazakhstan sounds like the kind of thing Chrystia Freeland’s buddy George Soros loves to foment.

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