The dust is settling in Kazakhstan yet I can’t see clearly

It’s been a couple of months since the exceptionally violent protests and a possible coup attempt in Kazakhstan, and I am still trying to figure out just exactly what happened and what it means for the future. So is everybody else except for the KGB probably.

While the protests and Russia sending in troops at request of the president happened not too long before Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, there seems to be no clear connection. Kazakhstan isn’t particularly more supportive of Russia now. It even recently cancelled Victory Day celebration to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This makes Aljazeera’s claim that it was a power grab by (former puppet?) President Tokayev against former president Nazarbayev (who still held real power), which Russia supported because the former president wasn’t pro-Russian enough, rather unlikely.

While alleging foreign interference, the government suggested it was Islamic terrorists. Not NATO, the EU, China or even the USA but terrorists from Afghanistan. Seriously? How those terrorists skipped Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and went straight into Kazakhstan, were able to get a significant part of the (far more secular) populace on their side and left no evidence behind, I honestly have no idea.

Wouldn’t the secret service be unto that? Didn’t the protests start in response to the increase in gas prices?

It looks like internal protests and revolutionary violence that somehow caused, influenced or was itself caused by an internal power struggle within the government and speculation regarding the internal mechanisms have been rife.

There was the aforementioned claim that it was a Russia backed self-coup by the current president which now appears unlikely, but another theory was that it was just a struggle between the current president and the former without outside interference. Nazarbayev didn’t react to the crisis fast enough, Tokayev acted off his own, Nazarbayev’s circle didn’t like this and allowed the violent protesters to take over buildings so as to allow Tokayev to all. So, an inner conflict that developed in response to the protests. But since the protests were for a big part aimed against the former president, his loyalists endangered their own power with that.

The protests threatened both the former and the current president. They were exceptionally violent, deadly and widespread for a supposed false flag.

Wouldn’t the ex-president have actually left (with as much of his fortune as possible) if he was ousted by his successor? Or is he prevented from leaving? A permanent semi-prisoner? Did he lose that much support?

Wouldn’t a more thorough purge of the government have been necessary after a full-blown self-coup against the previous dictator who ruled for 30 years? More than just the security council? I know that’s key, but what about the army? Aren’t they also important? Why didn’t generals get dealt with?

How was Tokayev even able to arrest and kill so many key people at the same time? 3 people of the security council and the police died mysterious. Security chief Massimov got arrested for treason. Seems like Tokayev must have had a bit more than just Russian support and the presidential administration on his side.

He fired the government and appointed new ministers while at the same time reorganising the security council. At least some key people in the secret service must have helped with the arrests. The idea that that could happen with just ordinary police is laughable.

The security council and police forces appear to have quickly fallen in line. The idea that the higher ups accepted a coup and abandoned their own president due to fear of Russia is ridiculous. Fear of Russian interference wouldn’t discourage a countercoup but encourage the military and secret service to act quickly and replace the president within a day. Then they would cancel the invitation for interference.

Nazarbayev loyalists wouldn’t simply submit to a semi-puppet regime of Russia.

The more sensible explanation seems to me to be that unexpectedly fierce protests threatened to cause a scenario similar to the Romanian revolution. That members of the Security council and some in the government lacked resolve in dealing with the protests and were open to switching sides.

The President acted quickly, used carrot and stick approach in dealing with protests, got Russian back up just in case, got a stronger cabinet, purged the deep state from anyone not reliable and threw the former president a bit under the bus, but not entirely. The deep stare followed him because he was leading them in crushing a revolt. This allowed the new President to come into his own.

He now tries to stabilise the country by doubling down on his reformist designs while respecting the core legacy of his predecessor.

Nazarbayev and his family have kept their immunity from prosecution even as the family members have been removed from the more prestigious positions. This reminds me of how Putin exempted Yeltsin from prosecution but did soon remove his daughter from the presidential administration. Though the ex-president is still honorary senator and member of the constitutional council.

Honestly, the new president appears to have finally gotten rid of his training wheels. Now he is working on reform the constitution. Transforming a presidential dictatorship into, a semi-presidential dictatorship? That will be quite interesting.

Ramon Giralt

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