Central Asian security, access to space, and ethnic Russians among reasons why Moscow can’t ignore unrest in the former Soviet nation
A police car on fire during clashes with protesters in the center of Almaty, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. © AP Photo/Vladimir Tretyakov
What’s behind the current violent unrest in Kazakhstan and why is political stability in this huge former Soviet republic of such great importance to Russia?
Events in Kazakhstan are unfolding at breakneck speed, with the situation changing on an hourly basis. Initially, it seemed that protests against soaring energy prices would not turn into anything more serious. Since then, however, the country has asked for help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russia-led military bloc, and its soldiers have engaged in fierce street battles with armed marauders.
Kazakhstan has always been viewed as one of the most stable post-Soviet countries, with the transition of power from its first president to his successor, managed by the local elites, initially seen as smooth and efficient. However, today the country is perhaps facing its toughest challenge since it became independent 30 years ago. RT has analyzed the reasons behind the unrest in Kazakhstan.
Footage of protests in Kazakhstan has spread all over the world. Demonstrators are forcing their way into public buildings, driving away military vehicles, and disarming soldiers. They have set on fire the mayor’s office in Almaty, the country’s largest city and second capital, which has now turned into the epicenter of the protest movement.
The unrest, however, appears to be mostly spontaneous and uncontrolled. It seems there are no leaders to organize the crowds, nor has any political party spearheaded the protest movement yet. The government simply does not know who to negotiate with, while the demonstrators are gaining control of many of Kazakhstan’s public buildings, as well as storming and destroying the offices of the Nur Otan ruling political party and national television channels.