Protests in Kazakhstan: 4 things you need to know

The British newspaper The Times published an article on the protests in Kazakhstan that dealt with the direct cause of the outbreak, Russia’s deployment of its forces there, the importance of that country to Moscow, the impact of the protests on oil production, and the financial corruption of the political elite in Kazakhstan.

mentioned in article Writer Mark Bennett writes that the first spark of the protests was the sharp rise in the price of liquefied gas, which many Kazakhs use to fuel their cars, and then quickly turned into protests against the “tyrannical” rulers of Kazakhstan, the landlocked former Soviet state sandwiched between Russia and China, the ninth largest country in the world. The world is larger than Western Europe, but its population is only 19 million.

Corruption and inequality

Bennett added that the Kazakh government says the unrest in the Muslim-majority country was organized by armed gangs trained abroad, but it has not provided any evidence for this, noting that most of the protesters were ordinary Kazakhs angry at corruption and economic inequality.

The writer said that after Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, 68, appealed to the Collective Security Treaty Organization – a group led by Moscow, of which Kazakhstan is a member – to help suppress the protests, Russia and the other members (Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) sent. Forces – including Russian paratroopers – to “stabilize” the situation.

The writer described the deployment as the first time that the CSTO has conducted joint military action since its founding in 1999.

Horror and anxiety in Moscow

Bennett explained that Kazakhstan was one of the most stable countries of the former Soviet Union, saying that Moscow would be terrified by the speed with which the unrest spread, and Russian President Vladimir Putin would be concerned about the speed of Kazakhs turning against the authorities, adding that the Kremlin would not want to risk the emergence of a loyal government. To the West in Kazakhstan.

Kazakh forces in the main square in the capital Almaty after the authorities’ decision to raise the ceiling on liquefied gas prices yesterday (Reuters)

The article noted Moscow’s use of the Kazakh Baikonur Cosmodrome to launch satellites and cosmonauts to the International Space Station.

rich in oil

He said that Kazakhstan has the largest proven oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region, and produces about 1.1 million barrels per day of crude oil, and that Western companies pumped tens of billions of dollars into oil fields in western Kazakhstan, where protests erupted, including the spending of a consortium led by Chevron. The US has an estimated $37 billion on a project to boost production there.

Elite corruption and Tony Blair

Bennett also noted that Kazakhstan accounts for 18% of the world’s Bitcoin mining, and the turmoil has eroded about 5% of its value.

On the financial corruption of the Kazakh elite, the article stated that in 2019, the National Crime Agency in Britain confiscated 3 properties in London worth 80 million pounds sterling belonging to the daughter and grandson of former Kazakh President Nazarbayev, and these properties were frozen on suspicion that they were purchased from the proceeds of crime. However, the British Supreme Court later ordered the return of the property.

Nazarbayev’s brother-in-law Timur Kulibayev also bought a mansion in Ascot from the British Prince Andrew family for about $20 million in 2007, $4 million more than the asking price. Insiders said the high price may have been an attempt to win Prince Andrew’s friendship.

The article stated that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair advised Nazarbayev after a crackdown on striking oil workers in 2011 that killed at least 14 people, and leaked documents showed that Blair requested about $ 7 million in fees for his advice.

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