The crisis in Kazakhstan .. Is Russia in danger of repeating the Ukrainian scenario?
Moscow- Like a snowball, sudden dramatic developments are accelerating in Kazakhstan, which has been characterized by political stability for nearly 30 years, unlike the former Soviet republics after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Violent protests in Kazakhstan led to deaths and paralysis of air transport, and while the president declared a state of emergency over the entire territory and accepted the resignation of the government, the most prominent opponents called for the protests to continue until the fall of the regime.
Eight members of the security forces and the army were killed and hundreds were injured in the riots that rocked Kazakhstan for several days, according to local media, quoting the Ministry of the Interior.
developments and concerns
The rapid developments in this country constitute a logical concern for Moscow, which is experiencing the peak of its deteriorating relations with the West, due to the crisis with Ukraine and the intentions of NATO to expand eastward under the guise of this crisis.
Commenting on the events taking place in Kazakhstan, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it is closely following the developments of events there, and expressed in a statement the hope that the situation will return to normal in the neighboring republic.
Kazakhstan is the largest republic in terms of area and volume of natural resources among the former Soviet republics after Russia, in other words, its strategic importance exceeds that of Ukraine.
During the 30 years that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, this country did not witness any significant disturbances. On the one hand, former President Nursultan Nazarbayev managed to build an effective political and security system, and at the same time, he is considered a politician who is completely acceptable to the West.
control and effects
Political writer Maxim Arteonov believes that it is self-evident that Moscow is closely watching the developments in Kazakhstan. The lessons learned from the Ukrainian experience are still very fresh in memory and painful, as is the case with the lessons from the events of Belarus a few months ago.
It is considered that any internal political instability in a neighboring country such as Kazakhstan – which has the longest border with Russia among all its neighbors, and on whose territory the Baikonur cosmodrome under Russian administration is located – could seriously affect Moscow’s interests.
Accordingly – Artyunov continues – Moscow will not allow Kazakhstan to get out of its sphere of influence, given that the possible change of power in it threatens precisely to re-orientate towards new allies, opponents of Moscow, as is the case now with Ukraine.
But at the same time, he indicates that objective reasons will make the current government or any future government there more dependent on the support of the Kremlin, as Moscow is the strongest and fastest candidate in helping the current ruling authorities from the repercussions of the outbreak of a “colorful” revolution that may plunge the country into an expensive spiral of chaos.
Events and significance
Therefore, the same speaker believes that the events that are beginning to unfold in Western Kazakhstan are of great importance for the future of Kazakhstan, and the coming days will show whether the unrest can be nipped in the bud or whether this is the beginning of a long-term trend, he says.
In this context, Konstantin Zatulin, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, ruled out that Kazakhstan will witness a repetition of the “Maidan” scenario in Ukraine, because the government in Nur-Sultan is more strict than in Kiev.
However, he indicated that there are two possible paths: either the government will eliminate the protests, or the protests will lead to the collapse of the current power structure, but he considered that there are “few reasons” for the occurrence of the second scenario.
On the other hand, a researcher in international relations, Yulia Osmolovskaya, says that Moscow is monitoring the situation in Kazakhstan with special concern.
In her opinion, the important point lies in the dynamics of protest sentiment. The official cause of the protests in Kazakhstan was the rise in fuel prices, but in fact it is a reaction to dangerous phenomena associated with the crisis of regimes and governance in neighboring countries, where the authoritarian regimes of the ruling elite, and poor socio-economic conditions.
And therefore Osmolovskaya does not exclude the possibility of a domino effect along the entire circumference of Russia, and the effects of this on a significant part of the countries of Central Asia.
According to her, Ukraine will be the first beneficiary in the case of the theoretical assumption that the Russian Federation will have to divert its resources and forces from the border with Ukraine in order to maintain its control along the perimeter of its other borders.
In turn, the expert on CIS affairs, Vladimir Lipikhin, believes that the authorities in Kazakhstan will not allow a “color revolution” at any cost, but will now have to take into account the position of liberal and Western-oriented circles, and nationalist forces in the country.
And he indicated that Kazakhstan has always tried not to get involved in the confrontation between Russia and the West, unlike Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who – in his opinion – mastered playing the Russian and Chinese contradictions with the Western world to protect the regime in Minsk.
He also expected similar protests to take place in any of the other Turkish-speaking countries in the region, explaining that Ankara’s continued mapping of the “Organization of Turkish States” is not in vain, stressing that there are “Turkish fingerprints” on the current protests in Kazakhstan.
For his part, Vladimir Shapovalov, deputy director of the Institute of History and Politics at Moscow Pedagogical University, does not believe that there is any impact at all on China, Turkey or Russia in the protests, because these three countries – according to him – were satisfied with the ruling authorities in Kazakhstan.
But with regard to the West, Shapovalov points out that what is happening is very similar to external interference, and in this context he likens the Atlantic tactics to a “below the belt” blow to Russia on the eve of the upcoming talks with the United States and NATO on January 10.
He adds that the timing of the protests is not accidental at all, and that one can see in the protests the actions of “puppet movers” who represent the major world powers in Europe and the United States, as he put it.
He also reinforces his point of view by referring to the financing of the protests, and sending messages by mail to protesters on social networks, considering that this is a well-thought-out work, and that this process will not end quickly in Kazakhstan as it is an attempt for another colorful revolution and not an internal confrontation between “clans”.
He recalls the events of 2019 in Kazakhstan, which took place in the same areas where the current protests erupted, and led at that time to the resignation of Nazarbayev.
But the current situation – according to his opinion – includes “the harbingers of a colorful revolution”, whether through the use of the same techniques, or by looking at the tactics used and the nature of the slogans raised by the protesters.