Does the Kazakh crisis provide Russia with an opportunity to restore power? | News

Young, unleaded and chaotic protesters rallied and onslaught Government buildings across Kazakhstan demolished the statue of the first president Nazarbayev, burned down his former residence, and clashed with the police.

What unites them is their slogan: “Shal, ket!” (Old man, leave!)

It mentions the 81-year-old Nazarbayev, who ruled Kazakhstan after the collapse of the Soviet Union after five controversial elections in 1991. He remains a loyal ally of Russia’s entry into the Moscow-led security and economic bloc.

In 2019, he stepped down After carefully selecting an unattractive successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, he still retained his power as the chairman of the Security Council.

Tokayev initially tried to appease the protesters.

Wednesday, he Dissolve the governmentOn January 2, Nazarbayev was dismissed from the Security Council and the price of fuel that caused unrest in western towns was lowered.

But because it seems that disoriented law enforcement officials cannot stop the assembly, violence, and robbery, Tokayev urged the Russian-led security group to help “quell the threat of terrorism.”

Civilians and policemen were killed in the clashes, and the policemen were reportedly beheaded. In this tightly controlled country, there is no detailed information on the casualties of the protesters, and the Internet interruption on Wednesday made it more difficult to obtain reliable information.

To some observers, Tokayev’s move marked Moscow’s chance to restore its power in Kazakhstan, whose huge hydrocarbon resources made it an economic powerhouse in Central Asia.

“For some people, this is a popular uprising, and for some people, this is an excellent opportunity to restore the Soviet Union at the expense of the frightened dictator, who betrayed their country to save their skin. And remaining power,” Nikolay Mitrokhin, an expert in the area, a researcher at the University of Bremen, Germany, told Al Jazeera.

Moscow has stayed away from this chaos to a certain extent.

The Kremlin stated that Kazakhstan can “solve domestic problems independently” and warned against foreign interference.

At the same time, the military alliance of the former Soviet Union countries headed by Russia is heading to Kazakhstan to restore order.

The group is called the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and includes Russia and the five former Soviet Union countries. The President of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, announced his intention to join on Wednesday night.

“The scale of this riot is completely different”

Although Kazakh officials refer to the protesters as “extremists,” most young Kazakhs lack coordination, have no obvious leaders, and do not have the support of Kazakhstan’s marginalized and divided opposition.

“Nothing in common [organisational] The structure and the obvious leader, so far, this is a protest against the workers in the main resources industry, obviously small businessmen and young people,” Mitrokhin said.

Another observer said that the protests are also completely different from any unrest in Kazakhstan in the post-Soviet period, which can easily be localized and suppressed.

Kevork Oskanian, a lecturer at the university, said: “The scale of this turmoil is completely different-covering the entire country-showing the extent to which the previous stability was superficial and based on a few irresponsible ones. The elite divide up the spoils.” A professor in Exeter told Al Jazeera.

The protests also signify a broader, regional desire for political change.

Four of the five former Soviet Union countries in Central Asia are mainly Muslim, a resource-rich region with a population of more than 65 million, strategically located between Russia, China, and Afghanistan, and are ruled by elderly leaders who act as the Communist Party People’s identity has emerged in politics.

Even in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, the youngest president of the region, 53-year-old Sadr Japarov, is also a member of the Youth Communist Movement. He said he dreams of “becoming like” Leon, one of the longest-serving Soviet leaders. People like Ned Brezhnev.

In the thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the secular leaders of Central Asia used the threat of so-called “religious radicalism” as an excuse to stifle dissent and opposition, and passed controversial elections, term extensions, and popular “referendums” criticized by the West. To expand their rule.

Analyst Oskanian said that the protests in Kazakhstan were not just a warning to the Nazarbayev family, who created a “hydrocarbon-based dictatorship.”

“Other dictators in the region who have similar patriarchal systems will pay close attention, especially [Russian President] Vladimir Putin,” he said.

Although Moscow’s own hardline tendencies peaked after the “abolition” of Putin’s presidency last year, this allowed him to In power until 2036However, the Kremlin did not specifically train strong men in Central Asia.

After three popular uprisings in 2005, 2010, and 2020 overthrew three presidents, it expanded its relationship with Kyrgyzstan and persuaded it to expel a U.S. military base.

Its relationship with Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov remained lukewarm until his death in 2016, under the leadership of his reformist successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev (Shavkat Mirziyoyev). improve.

Pavel Luzin, an analyst at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington, D.C., told Al Jazeera: “Russia has hardly deliberately consolidated anything in the region, except for its physical and institutional presence.”

This presence is reflected in the military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the Soviet-era space launch site in Kazakhstan, the naval fleet in the oil-rich Caspian Sea, and Moscow’s role in the peace process in Afghanistan, which is related to the five former Soviet Unions. “Three of Stan’s borders,” Luzin said.

For ordinary Kazakhs, protest is that they see what is about to happen — and are afraid.

“This is a mixture of hope and fear,” said a resident of Almaty, who asked Al Jazeera to conceal his name due to the uncertain situation.

He fears that right-wing nationalists may be involved, and they are seen as a threat by the secular residents of Kazakhstan and various ethnic minorities.

He said that the national patriot “would be the worst” on the grounds that he was worried about his Korean wife.

Moscow and Beijing are another increasingly dominant force in the region. They are more willing to support these leaders, but political or financial support is of little significance to the post-Soviet generation. They do not see career opportunities in politics and need opportunities. Express their dissatisfaction.

An international observer said that President Tokayev may now “quell the protests” through a combination of police repression and concessions.

“But the protests clearly created deep-rooted anger for the bigger problem than the price of natural gas,” Ivar Dyer, a senior policy adviser to the Norwegian Commission on Human Rights, a human rights watchdog, told Al Jazeera.

Dale lived in Kazakhstan for a few years and visited the town of Zhanaozen, where the protests began on January 2. The town took place in 2011 and led to the killing of 16 protesting oil workers by the police. A series of punitive measures.

“It’s no coincidence. It started in Zanautzen, where the authorities suppressed dissatisfaction 10 years ago. The corruption surrounding the elites of Kazakhstan is obvious to all, and it cannot be covered up by constantly blocking news websites or shutting down independent newspapers. Some are more fundamental. Things need to change,” he said.