What just happened in Kazakhstan? | thecapitaldebates

Kazakhstan is really huge it's the size of Western Europe. It's also pretty wealthy. It has the biggest economy in Central Asia and huge reserves of oil, natural gas and minerals.

What just happened in Kazakhstan? | thecapitaldebates
What just happened in Kazakhstan? | thecapitaldebates

Thing is most people in Kazakhstan don't really benefit from that wealth. The average person earns less than $600 a month and then there's a small group of super rich tycoons.
162 people own around 50% of the country's wealth, according to one report. And for decades, there's been one guy at the very top of that system Nursultan Nazarbayev.
He was a leading official back when Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union and then became president after Kazakhstan got its independence in 1991. Nazarbayev held on to the job for 30 years. No real political opposition was allowed to emerge and basically everything revolved around him. But in 2019 Nazarbayev finally stepped down as president and his hand-picked successor,
Kassym Jomart Tokayev, became president  in name anyway. Because Nazarbayev stuck around. He kept his title of Elbasy  that's "leader of the nation" and got a lifetime appointment to head up
Kazakhstan's powerful Security Council. But still, with Tokayev taking over as president, there was a sense that change was in the air. He promised to bring in some reforms and even went on what he called a listening tour around the country.
Trouble is, things didn't really change. So when people woke up on the first day of 2022 and saw that fuel prices had doubled, well, that got people going.
The protests started off peacefully in a town in the west. But within days they'd spread across the country. And even though the government quickly reversed the fuel-price hike, by this point the anger had become about so much more.
Things soon got violent, especially in Kazakhstan's biggest city, Almaty. President Tokayev declared a state of emergency and blamed what he called terrorists, bandits and foreign actors for what was happening, although he didn't give any evidence and he said this Here's something else Tokayev did. He called for outside help from a regional military alliance led by Russia.
It's called the Collective Security Treaty Organization–the CSTO. And it responded with around 2,500 soldiers, mostly Russians. In any case, the crackdown seemed to work. Within about a week things had calmed down and those foreign troops were on their way home. The government said 225 people had been killed, including 19 members of the security forces. Around 12,000 people have been arrested, so far.
Now, there's something else going on here and that's all the political intrigue and what looks like a power struggle at the top. Remember how we said that when Tokayev became president, Nazarbayev was still pulling the strings? Well, it looks like things have shifted. During this whole time Nazarbayev was nowhere to be seen.
There were even rumours he'd fled the country, rumours he eventually denied in a video statement on his website. Now, in that statement Nazarbayev also denied there were any divisions at the top, but one thing looks pretty clear Tokayev seems to have strengthened his position. Tokayev took Nazarbayev's job as head of the Security Council, and a close ally of Nazarbayev, the head of the intelligence agency, was arrested fortreason.
Tokayev also appointed a new prime minister and a new cabinet. But the big question is what this actually means for people in Kazakhstan.
Are they going to see things change? He announced a bunch of new policies, things like higher taxes for mining companies and a new social fund that the richest people and companies are meant to pay into. What we've seen with the recent events in Kazakhstan are the
first big signs of cracks in the system the old way of doing things. Tokayev seems to be trying to paper over those cracks, but will it work? And for how long?
In case you missed it or haven't yet seen our most recent explained on what's happening in Ukraine,we've linked it here for you.

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