Kazakhstan’s Growing Protests – The Organization for World Peace

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Growing protests in Kazakhstan over inflated fuel prices have exposed an undercurrent of grievances with the country’s economic and political structure. Peaceful protests began on January 2 in the center Zhanaozen, an oil-rich city located in the western half of the territory of Kazakhstan, and other surrounding cities, citizens showed their solidarity.

The protest reflects many years of previous protests. Ten years earlier, on December 16, 2011, oil workers in the region went on strike to protest against low wages and poor working conditions, an uprising that was met with force by the Kazakh regime. The massacre of this demonstration and similar demonstrations in 2014 and 2019 have forged a familiar and recognizable pattern for protesters on the government’s response. However, the peaceful protests were overtaken by more tumultuous protests, with protesters storming buildings and vandalizing property. In response, the President Kassym Jomart Tokayev demanded that Russian troops be sent to Kazakhstan to reduce and disperse the demonstrations, with Tokayev since calling the protesters “criminals and murderers”.

Government-mandated internet blackouts have largely blocked independent internet access and social media, preventing clear documentation of events. However, the goals and objectives of the protesters are clear: they are calling for major political changes and an end to corruption and nepotism in their state. Darkhan Charipov of theOyan, Qazaqstan » A group of activists said protesters want “real political reform” and “fair elections”. The demonstrators called for the leaders of all regions of Kazakhstan to be directly elected rather than appointed by the president.

The outrage across Kazakhstan is not centralized on Tokayev or former President Nazarbayev, who, along with his close friends and family, is still widely regarded as the most powerful man in Kazakhstan since economic and political power is concentrated among very few people. Assel Tutumlu, assistant professor of international relations at Near East University, explains how power seems stretched between past and current presidents, and that decisions and reforms are usually influenced by precedent.

On the 8th, the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan declared that its former leader and former Prime Minister, Karim Massimov, was arrested on suspicion of treason. Joan Lily, writing in Eurasianet believe this indicates At Massimov’s potential involvement in an internal coup and that elite politics in Kazakhstan are changing. The Ministry of Affairs also announced that approximately 4,404 people have been detained under Tokayevpolice response and 40 people died. The first units of Russian forces from a Moscow-led contingent arrived in Kazakhstan in response to Tokayevto the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization to help disperse the protests.

However, Vladimir Putin has made it clear that his help is an occupation of Kazakhstan. This occupation could be brief and simply a reminder that Russia is ready to intervene in its sphere of influence. But even a short-term intervention to disperse protesters and prove massive Russian control could lead to increased anti-Russian sentiment and new protests to continue to escalate. Kazakhstan’s government and protests will not benefit from Russian involvement. There are currently no popular opposition groups against the Kazakh government, and the government of Kazakhstan should address the main financial cause of the protests and underlying frustrations by allowing a less focused government by developing the policies necessary to that an opposition government be maintained as an alternative.

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