Eurasia Notes #12 - Kazakh Protests Turn Deadly
Exile or foreign influence inflames organic protests
Tbilisi, Jan 6, 2022
State-corporatist media in the West is drawing a familiar storyboard on Kazakstan: Russian troops flying in to support a client regime in the face of a repressed people.
Half the story is true. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev asked the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to send troops, which reflects a problem much of his own making, the failure to anticipate and resolve the people’s needs during crisis.
What began as fuel price protests have become political. Tolkayev says they are underming the integrity of the state. Leaders of countries on Russia’s border are justified in their fear of meddling by foreign intelligence agencies posing as charities. But that does not excuse their own political failings.
The BBC claims “dozens killed” among protestors and 12 security personnel. The country’s main airport in Almaty was seized temporarily. There are unconfirmed reports that soldiers were killed while regaining control, according to reports on airline industry websites.
A correspondent for independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta illustrates the coordinated and localized nature of attacks:
Rioters “in tracksuits” attacked the regional government headquaters, the prosecutor's office, burned the offices of ruling party, Nur Otan party, started a fire in the Kazakhstan TV station, and later took the building of the border security and counter-intelligence agency, the National Security Committee. Two hundred individuals were arrested by Tuesday, 40 vehicles damaged, 100 police injured.
Protests in the largest city, Almaty, have been violent, unlike elsewhere.
Strangely, on Jan 5th, despite the declaration of a state of emergency the day before, police and military were sparse., writes Gazeta’s correspondent. That is not the only parallel with the response of many U.S. states to “defund the police” protests, nor that of German and Scandinavian authorities to migrant unrest:
“Multiple testimonies of residents of the southern capital of Kazakhstan indicate that the city was left completely at the mercy of people in tracksuits who were not afraid of anything at all. ‘Aliens’, having absolutely nothing to do with the protest, began to burn the city to the ground.” 
Some videos of riots in Kazakstan seem familiar. The use of a vehicle to ram the windows of a shop. We saw the same at the height of the Antifa riots. To one who lives in the post-Soviet space, this looks foreign, alien.
Grassroots vs imported
It is true that people living outside the main cities in many post-Soviet or “transition” economies are poor — to be blunt, they’ve been poor for decades and have learned to survive often despite, not because, of the state.
As the Western leaders roll out their big papa government, the state-corporatist media pushes the merits of universal basic income — inevitably to be linked to your ID2020 and probably proof of vaccination — those who take a benign view of supra-governance might observe how dependence on the state works in practice. Of course, acolytes will say real communitarianism has never been tried: Build Back Better, The Great Reset, the Smart Cities and this-or-that-2030 agenda will do it right.
(Article approx 1,000 words, 6 minute read follows).
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