A day later, the situation in Kazakhstan cleared up somewhat, but my soul did not feel calmer. The sequence of events can now be reconstructed as follows.
In the same place where in December 2011 - on the Mangyshlak peninsula - unrest began again among the workers of oil and gas fields and uranium mines. Their hard and harmful work is paid meagerly, and the Kazakh elite from the Shapyrashty clan of the Uysun Union of the Senior Zhuz lives fat. Is it worth reminding that old Nazarbayev and all his relatives belong to this clan, including influential nephews - General Samat Abish Satybaldy - the first deputy head of the KNB (Kazakh KGB) and dollar billionaire Kairat Satybaldy.
The new president of Kazakhstan since 2019, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, is also a native of the Senior Zhuz, but from a different tribe, Zhalayyr (clan Kushik). In the system of Kazakh clans, he is a "poor" distant relative, hired by the rich. So he was, this is my age, a graduate of the same MGIMO. But the soldier is bad if he does not dream of a marshal's baton. It is clear that Tokayev dreamed of it. But all the power structures were controlled by the old Elbasy through his clan. And Kasym-Jomart smiled and waited.
And now - the cards lay down. Unrest began in Novy Uzen (Zhanaozen). It quickly spread throughout almost all of Kazakhstan. Only the Russian-speaking outskirts - Petropavlovsk, Ust-Kamenogorsk remained calm. Russians have long been accustomed to feeling like second-class people in Kazakhstan. Those who didn't like it - they left. Fortunately, big Russia is close by and has six thousand miles of the common border.
The Kazakhs perfectly understood what they were demanding - they wanted the abolition of the clan power of Shapyrashty and equal participation of all zhuzes and clans in the public and financial life of the country. This desire was shared by Westernized intellectuals and technocrats, and simple laborers in the wells and mines. None of them, except for the members of Shapyrashty, did not need a clan state. Some have outgrown it, getting used to Europe, while it prevented others from making their small careers.
This was used by the "poor relative" Tokayev. Kazakhs remembered very well that in December 2011 Nazarbayev and his relatives shot a protest of workers in Aktau and Zhanaozen. Hundreds of people have died. And he decided not to use force, but, on the contrary, to reassure the protesters and thereby push them to more radical political demands. The security officials were ordered not to use weapons. Gas prices were immediately returned to their previous level. And literally in a matter of hours, Tokayev promised the continuation of reforms, dissolved the Council of Ministers and announced that he would prepare new, democratic elections. Elbasy himself and his relatives - security officials - were removed from power. The coup took place gracefully.
It should not be forgotten that Kazakhstan lives on Western investments. The main money comes from the Netherlands, Great Britain, USA, Germany. Much less from China and very little from Russia (2.5%). And Nazarbayev once dreamed of becoming Central Asian Lee Kuan Yew, but the Bolshevik past fatally hindered him - he remained a Soviet functionary, and Tokayev, who served as ambassador to Singapore, knew very well this image of an enlightened despot who prepared his people for democracy and gave them wealth, and, not without reason thought that he corresponds to that image much better than the "grandfather".
Hence all the curtseys towards democracy. Tokayev wanted to strengthen Kazakhstan's turn towards the West without spoiling relations with Putin's Russia and, what is most important for him, to get rid of the omnipotence of the Shapyrashty clan, becoming the father of the nation himself, as Singaporean Lee had once become.
Peaceful protests, demands for democracy and hatred of the Nazarbayev clan brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets, but the leaders of the ruling clan were not asleep either. The wise and cruel Elbasy immediately realized that Tokayev was out of obedience. But what could he do, sick 81-year-old man?
But his nephews could do a lot. The old uncle was only a hindrance to them. The Soviet past did not bother them at all and they treated the USSR with contempt and hatred. Nursultan himself, over 30 years of his reign, did everything for the Kazakhs to clearly recognize their history in the Russian Empire and hate it. Every Kazakh schoolchild knows how brutally the liberation movement of his people was suppressed by the imperial power in 1916. He does not know everything, but accurately as much as is necessary to hate the Semirechye Cossacks and the tsarist bureaucracy behind them. All Kazakhs know the names of Abubakir Aldiyarov, Khalel Gabbasov, Mukysh Boshtaev and other fighters for an independent democratic Kazakhstan. They know that in the beginning they were with the Russian constitutional democrats, they were elected to the Duma from them, and then they created their own national Kyrgyz-Kazakh national party, Alash-Orda. And together with the White movement they fought to the end against the Bolsheviks. They are proud of them. In their memory villages and streets are named, postage stamps are issued. But they know that they were all killed by Russian Bolsheviks in the dungeons of the Cheka, some in 1920, some in 1930, some in 1937-38. In almost every aul of Kazakhstan there are monuments to the victims of the artificial famine of 1932-33. Everyone in the republic knows that, in terms of population, the death rate in Kazakhstan was the highest in the USSR. In Kazakhstan 1.5 million people died (1.3 of them are Kazakhs, mostly pastoralists who led a semi-nomadic lifestyle) from hunger in 1930-33 according to today's data . This terrible time is called here Asharshylyk - the Great Famine. Everyone knows that the first secretary of this huge autonomous republic of the RSFSR Isaiah Isaakovich Goloshchekin (comrade Philip), who in 1918 was the military commissar of the Ural region and personally organized the assassination of the Emperor and his family members, was in charge of the emergency grain procurement and cattle withdrawal in Kazakhstan. For Kazakhs, Goloshchekin is Russian. The Russian authorities are not forgiven for the forcible resettlement of millions of special settlers to Kazakhstan, who changed the ethnic composition of the republic, and the repressions of the terror of the 1930s, and the nuclear and missile ranges of the 1950s. In general, there are no illusions about the glorious Soviet past in Kazakhstan for a long time and, by the way, there are no monuments to the leaders of the USSR for a long time either.
The younger generation of the Shapyrashty clan looks not at the mirages of the USSR, but at the Islamic world of the same faith. Many, including Nursultan's nephews, are passionate about Islamic radicalism. The Taliban's victory in Afghanistan in August 2021 inspired them. What do they want with their northern neighbor if the same-believing south promises them everything - from the nuclear umbrella of Pakistan to the golden waterfall of the Saudis?
And if Tokayev staked on the West and democracy, then the Satybaldy brothers - on the world of radical Islam. Kairat is in many ways similar to the Russian Malofeev - the same, only not "Orthodox", but "faithful dreamer". And many follow him, especially from the Senior Zhuz. Look at the map - Senior Zhuz is just the southeast of Kazakhstan - Almaty, Taraz, Chemkent. Here is the mainstay of the Uysun union, and these are the very Islamized regions of the republic.
Seeing that they were removed from power by Tokayev, Nazarbayev's nephews quickly mobilized ordinary illiterate people of the south, yesterday's inhabitants of the villages of the foothills of Karatau and the Charyn valley. I think they have been preparing for such an answer for a long time, having put like-minded radical Islamists in all important positions in the power structures of the country and, especially in the southern regions. And ideas unite people much more strongly than clans.
And therefore, when, frightened by the scale of the peaceful protest, which already demanded his removal, Tokayev decided to call his troops - the troops did not go. General Samat Abish gave a different order. And the two-million city of Almaty, abandoned by the security forces, began to pour in Mambets - people from the auls, unanimous and faithful to both the Taliban and their shining adherents in the Kazakh elite.
My friends among the peaceful demonstrators tell how stalwart Kazakh guys in down jackets, quickly pushing them aside, threw Molotov cocktails at the building of the Almaty city government. And the KNB itself allowed them to quickly arm themselves and handed over the equipment.
When Tokayev realized that all the security officers were either hiding or against him, he discarded, to the delight of Putin, his cunning plans to become the new Lee Kuan Yew, went to bow to the Kremlin. And the Kremlin, on its own head, responded to this bow by sending troops. Now the Russians will shoot at the Kazakhs. And this will outrage everyone - the enlightened Westerners, the cultural Kazakh patriots, and the darkest Islamic fundamentalists.
God forbid, if I am mistaken, but the fundamentalists now have nowhere to retreat, and a partisan war will begin in the Alatau mountains, which will be sympathized with almost all the population of Kazakhstan, and the whole of Central Asia. Because everyone will consider this war not a civil war (which is not so bad), but a colonial one and, even worse, inter-religious.
Tactically, there is no good way out of this situation for Russia. It exists only strategically - in a complete change in foreign and domestic policy. With its fight against NATO, its kissing Stalin, its friendship with China, Iran, and the Taliban, the Kremlin has driven all of us into a dead end - both Kazakhs and Russians.