Where will Kazakhstan go after the riots?

Another 'revolution of dignity' sparks in Kazakhstan. Where will the country go?

Heavy shooting erupted on Republic Square in the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan on January 6, TASS news agency reports adding that the connection with the source of the information was soon lost.

Eyewitnesses to the riots said that several citizens were injured during the shootout. It was also reported that explosions were heard in the city. Military men opened fire on the protesters who gathered on Republic Square, having warned the people of the intention.

Over 2,000 protester have been detained, tens were killed.

Until recently, Kazakhstan was considered to be one of the most stable and quiet countries on post-Soviet space. People took to the streets after the authorities doubled the prices on liquified gas.

However, social protests quickly evolved into political ones as people started demanding a regime change.

At the request of the protesters, President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev dismissed the government, but the crisis was snowballing. All over Kazakhstan, protesters set cars on fire, seize local government buildings and attack law enforcement officers using the weapons that they had seized from them before.

It appears that neither the army nor the police will be able to help Kazakhstan President Tokayev.

He decided not to follow the path of either Viktor Yanukovych or Alexander Lukashenko. Tokayev simply refrained from dialogue.

Instead of acting harshly within the framework of the declared state of emergency, Tokayev accepted the resignation of the government and withdrew the troops. On January 5, the President was out of the media field.

Meanwhile, the crisis was getting worse every hour.

In some cities, security forces took the side of protesters. Such incidents were reported in Aktob and Arytau.

The symbols of power — the buildings of both the administration and residence of the sitting and past presidents of Kazakhstan — are in flames, and firefighters were not allowed to extinguish the fires.

Kazakhstan elites flee to the West

Kazakhstan's oligarchs have reportedly left the country. They are Patokh Shodiev, co-owner of Eurasian Resources Group, and Kenes Rakishev, the head of the metallurgical holding Sat&Company. Part of Nazarbayev's family, which controls oil and gas in Kazakhstan, have reportedly left the country on board a private jet too.

In the city of Zhanaozen, protesters demand a reset of the system of power. They want a person outside the system to come to power. This is unlikely to happen, because Kazakhstan is not a self-sufficient state.

Who will come to power in Kazakhstan?

If Kazakhstan succumbs to Western influence, the new person in power in Kazakhstan will not reorient hydrocarbon flows (85% of them go to the West). It is worthy of note that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken discussed the crisis in Kazakhstan with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Tim Ash, an expert for emerging markets at BlueBay Asset Management, said in an interview with CNBC that the riots in Kazakhstan sparked because of frustrations over the lack of democracy.

"Young, internet savvy Kazakhs, especially in Almaty, likely want similar freedoms as Ukrainians, Georgians, Moldovans, Kyrgyz and Armenians, who have also vented their frustrations over the years with authoritarian regimes," Ash said.

We would like to add here that the mass riots in Kazakhstan sparked immediately after Nazarbayev and Tokayev paid a visit to the CIS summit to have a meeting with Vladimir Putin there. Perhaps they were planning something very unpleasant for the West during the talks.

If Kazakhstan chooses to follow the Russian influence, the new administration of Kazakhstan will turn to Russia, similarly to how Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus did.

Noteworthy, the riots are especially violent in the south of Kazakhstan, whereas the situation in the north of the country is relatively quiet. This prompted experts to assume that Kazakhstan may split into two parts, one of which will take a pro-Russian orientation, and the other one will be opposed to it.

Turkey and China may also have plans about Kazakhstan. Sinologist Nikolai Vavilov suggested that the purpose of the crisis in Kazakhstan was to pull the country out from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation so that it could subsequently enter into close military cooperation with Turkey, and through it with NATO.

"Turkey will thus gain a direct corridor to Xinjiang and begin providing direct support to East Turkestan. Russia will thus gain a potential hot front of not hundred, as in the case of Ukraine, but thousands of kilometres of unstable borders that would thus be open to militants from Afghanistan and the Middle East. The Urals, the Volga region and Western Siberia will all be destabilized," Nikolay Vavilov wrote in his Telegram channel.

Specialists have long predicted bloody riots in Kazakhstan after similar events had taken place in Ukraine in 2014, in Armenia in 2018, in Kyrgyzstan in 2020, and in Belarus in 2020. The same mistake was observed everywhere — local authorities showed their loyalty to the West and renounced everything Russian, save for cheap Russian resources. As a result of the revolutions of dignity in the above-mentioned countries, the standards of living in those countries have been declining, while prices on literally everything have been rising steadily.

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Author`s name Lyuba Lulko
Editor Dmitry Sudakov