Instability in Kazakhstan

Feanor

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Massive internal unrest has broken out in Kazakhstan. The initially broke out over internal increase in gas prices. However since the the government has agreed to back off the increase, and unrest continues. The government has begun confiscating weapons from the public. There are reports of police using rubber bullets and flashbangs. The unrest encompasses multiple cities including the capital. An emergency situation has been declared in Alma-Ata and Mangistaunskaya region and the government has resigned. There are also reports of social media and messengers getting blocked.

The usual accusations of Western meddling, coupled with claims of Turkish involvement abound in the discussion surrounding this but so far there is no evidence of foreign involvement in any way. Kazakhstan has had a flurry of domestic problems that have piled up over the year including corruption and rising cost of living. However Kazakhstan is also an authoritarian state with a powerful militarized police and security apparatus. If these are just spontaneous protests with no organizing center and coordination they will likely be defeated. If there is an organized internal movement, or worse externally sponsored movement, Kazakhstan may be in for regime change.

The first link has a map of protests.

 

Sandhi Yudha

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It seems that the government of Kazakhstan has stepped down.



But there are also reports that the people wants to see Nazarbayev stepping down.
 

Feanor

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It seems that the government of Kazakhstan has stepped down.



But there are also reports that the people wants to see Nazarbayev stepping down.
Of course they do. He's the actual government, and he's set the groundwork to remain in power indefinitely. Anything that doesn't involve him stepping down is just a change of window dressing.
 

KiwiRob

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Of course they do. He's the actual government, and he's set the groundwork to remain in power indefinitely. Anything that doesn't involve him stepping down is just a change of window dressing.
No different to the man he replaced.
 

Feanor

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Nazarbaev has stepped down from the position he created for himself when he moved out of the presidency. He was head of the Security Council. The person who replaced Nazarbaev as president, Tokaev, is taking that role. And now there is a government VIP aircraft flying out of Russia towards Kazakhstan, possibly to evacuate Nazarbaev. Tokaev has stated that he doesn't intend to leave the country and has promised harsh suppression of the riots. He also claimed there are KIA among government police and military and that the protesters are organized and well funded.


There is now unconfirmed info that the Telegram channel involved in coordinating protests in Belarus is coordinating protest and riot activity in Kazakhstan.


Meanwhile the situation in Alma-Ata remains out of control, with the city center being devoid of police presence. Looting of stores an government offices has begun. There are also reports of attacks on fire trucks and ambulances. The city administration building has been captured and there are reports that the rioters stole or captured some fire arms.

 

Steinmetz

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The situation certainly seems to be heating up, and is very fluid. Apparently Almaty International Airport has been seized and then recaptured.
Map of Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan - centralasia.liveuamap.com

Tokayev's wordage seems to be getting more harsh and direct, saying what is happening in Almaty is a terrorist attack.
СЕЙЧАС KG

And it looks like he has requested CSTO assistance. So that'll be interesting to see how that unfolds.
NUR.KZ - Новости Казахстана
 

Feanor

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And it looks like he has requested CSTO assistance. So that'll be interesting to see how that unfolds.
NUR.KZ - Новости Казахстана
It kind of just says that he considers a request for CSTO test timely and proper. It doesn't appear to be an actual request for aid. It remains to be seen how things play out. Kazakhstan in principle should have enough domestic security forces to resolve this. A request for foreign aid might indicate poor reliability of the forces available, or that the situation is worse then we can see.
 

Steinmetz

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Thanks for the clarification. Well, it looks as of now he did indeed have quite a few talks behind the scenes. It looks like we are going to see a CSTO intervention. And to your point, things must look worse than we are seeing for it to come to this level. It also looks like he cleaned house on quite a few members of his inner security council. I'm sure that coupled with his cabinet changes has caused a lot of internal chaos, including the security situation.
Atameken Business - Новости Казахстана

Раньше всех. Ну почти.
 

Feanor

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Thanks for the clarification. Well, it looks as of now he did indeed have quite a few talks behind the scenes. It looks like we are going to see a CSTO intervention. And to your point, things must look worse than we are seeing for it to come to this level. It also looks like he cleaned house on quite a few members of his inner security council. I'm sure that coupled with his cabinet changes has caused a lot of internal chaos, including the security situation.
Atameken Business - Новости Казахстана

Раньше всех. Ну почти.
No kidding, apparently it's starting. The CSTO has officially declared they're sending peacekeepers to Kazakhstan. There are reports of armed clashes near Alma-Ata between Kazakh paratroopers and unknown insurgents. The CSTO is citing foreign involvement in the riots as part of the reasoning. The official statement came from Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, and current chair of the CSTO Security Council.

 

Feanor

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Thanks for the clarification. Well, it looks as of now he did indeed have quite a few talks behind the scenes. It looks like we are going to see a CSTO intervention. And to your point, things must look worse than we are seeing for it to come to this level. It also looks like he cleaned house on quite a few members of his inner security council. I'm sure that coupled with his cabinet changes has caused a lot of internal chaos, including the security situation.
Atameken Business - Новости Казахстана

Раньше всех. Ну почти.
No kidding, apparently it's starting. The CSTO has officially declared they're sending peacekeepers to Kazakhstan. There are reports of armed clashes near Alma-Ata between Kazakh paratroopers and unknown insurgents. The CSTO is citing foreign involvement in the riots as part of the reasoning. The official statement came from Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, and current chair of the CSTO Security Council.

 

ngatimozart

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Thanks for the clarification. Well, it looks as of now he did indeed have quite a few talks behind the scenes. It looks like we are going to see a CSTO intervention. And to your point, things must look worse than we are seeing for it to come to this level. It also looks like he cleaned house on quite a few members of his inner security council. I'm sure that coupled with his cabinet changes has caused a lot of internal chaos, including the security situation.
Atameken Business - Новости Казахстана

Раньше всех. Ну почти.
You have been banned for operating two separate profiles as Steinmetz and ParadoxicalQ. If you have a genuine reason why you think that the ban should be rescinded, feel free to contact the Webmaster.
 

Big_Zucchini

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Reminder that the website liveuamap.com exists. The region "central asia" shows Kazakhstan, and it really helps seeing the events on a map.
For those unaware, this is an OSINT website which visualizes the reports on a regional map.
 

Feanor

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Reminder that the website liveuamap.com exists. The region "central asia" shows Kazakhstan, and it really helps seeing the events on a map.
For those unaware, this is an OSINT website which visualizes the reports on a regional map.
Thanks for the reminder, I do recall them being a useful source. Link is below.

 

Feanor

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Update.

The situation is evolving rapidly.

Another map of the events.


The the district attorney's office (ok state procurors but it's the closest equivalent) has been captured and burned. The local state security office has been captured and looted presumably in a search for weapons and body armor.


Weapons being handed out in the streets.


Destroyed government vehicles.


Rioters attacking a fire truck in Aktobe, one of the centers of the unrest.


Water cannons and flashbangs being used, also in Aktobe.


Sounds of gunfire, in bursts, and people screaming and fleeing. No location (other then KZ) and no context. Could be government forces, could ordinary looters.


Footage from the streets of Alma-Ata, note the armored presence from the National Guard.


There have been some incidents of soldiers switching sides and some instances of vehicles being captured. It can be hard to tell what exactly is happening.


A large but poorly organized crowd of soldiers and police.


A wounded soldiers being dragged to safety, allegedly shot. Note that this footage dovetails rather neatly with the last video clip, though from apparently a different vantage point.


Flights from Moscow to Alma-Ata are being cancelled.


The airport currently looks like this, after being briefly captured by the rioters.


A large number of business jets have been spotted leaving the country all at once.


Tokaev states that KZ paratroopers fought a determined battle against an armed band near Alma-Ata.


And here is Tokaev officially requesting CSTO assistance.


Russia has reportedly begun forming a peacekeeping contingent to deploy to KZ, to include two companies of SpN GRU, a unit of SpN VDV, a btln of mountain troops from the 55th Motor-Rifles in Tyva, and elements of the 11th Engineers. The 103rd VDV from Belarus has also been mentioned, meaning this will in fact be a CSTO deployment, rather then a solo Russian action. While the immediate practical significance is not all that great (Russia certainly has enough paratroopers) the political implications are significant. And it's not unlikely that if this is successful, the next crisis in Belarus may involve KZ troops. No word so far on forces from Armenia or Kirgiziya (if they contribute anything, it will be very minor token forces).

 

Feanor

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Ok this is literally happening faster then I can keep up. An operation has begun in Alma-Aty on Thursday morning, local time. It's an armed operation to stop the looting and rioting. Armored vehicles and National Guard units with fire arms are sweeping the city. Allegedly they surrounded the city center with all the rioters.


Note the sounds of gunfire in the distance, as the troops move.


Armored vehicles in Nursultan.


Mukhtar Ablyazov, a KZ oligarch who fled, claims that some of the protest are being coordinated from Ukraine.

 

Big_Zucchini

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1. TheWarZone as usual with great coverage, providing both their own insight and a good amount of footage:

2. I didn't go through all the links you provided, so I don't know if it brings any new info. But the writer seems to think a CSTO involvement is 50/50, considering Russia's prior commitments to Ukraine's border and Belarus.

3. My personal opinion is that I'm glad overall to see a protest movement that actually has teeth and does not just let the government disperse them so easily. They have their interests, as a people, and they take up arms to get them.
  • And it certainly makes things much better to see how relatively clean and targeted their actions are. No mindless vandalism like torching ordinary people's cars and stores. No random violence against everyone. They target government assets.
  • I don't really support blocking off highways and railroads for people who just want to go somewhere, but I get their reasoning and that we can't all have what we want.
4. Here's to hoping the Kazakh people get the government they want.
  • They're one of a rare few like Iranians and many Afghans that seem (on the surface at least) to be ripe for democracy and progress but are prevented that by their governments.
5. Am I correct in assuming these protests are happening in every major city?
 
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Feanor

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1. TheWarZone as usual with great coverage, providing both their own insight and a good amount of footage:

2. I didn't go through all the links you provided, so I don't know if it brings any new info. But the writer seems to think a CSTO involvement is 50/50, considering Russia's prior commitments to Ukraine's border and Belarus.
The article isn't completely accurate on some of its history. For example the author seems to think that Kirgiziya and Armenia formally requested CSTO assistance during their respective crises, but I don't believe this is true, with Armenia making a number of weakly worded public statements but no formal request.

I'm also pretty sure CSTO involvement, at least Russian, but likely other's too, is just about a done deal.

3. My personal opinion is that I'm glad overall to see a protest movement that actually has teeth and does not just let the government disperse them so easily. They have their interests, as a people, and they take up arms to get them.
  • And it certainly makes things much better to see how relatively clean and targeted their actions are. No mindless vandalism like torching ordinary people's cars and stores. No random violence against everyone. They target government assets.
  • I don't really support blocking off highways and railroads for people who just want to go somewhere, but I get their reasoning and that we can't all have what we want.

The reports I've seen include both torching ordinary people's cars and looting stores, though footage from the country is relatively scarce due at least partially to the internet lockdown. It's possible the reports are false. I think we will get more specific info as time goes by.

4. Here's to hoping the Kazakh people get the government they want.
  • They're one of a rare few like Iranians and many Afghans that seem (on the surface at least) to be ripe for democracy and progress but are prevented that by their governments.
I don't think they are ripe for democracy. A stable liberal democracy requires a fairly large middle class to support it and I don't think this is the case. Kazakhstan has had issues with nationalism rearing its ugly head the past couple of year, and has a generally fairly corrupt clan-based political arrangement. I suspect that the fall of the current Kazakh government will not improve things for regular people.

I also find it suspicious how well organized the whole mess is and how quickly they grabbed weapons. Spontaneous protests by the general population don't look like that, and don't move that fast, unless the government is ready for collapse.

5. Am I correct in assuming these protests are happening in every major city?
As far as I can tell - yes.
 

Big_Zucchini

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I also find it suspicious how well organized the whole mess is and how quickly they grabbed weapons. Spontaneous protests by the general population don't look like that, and don't move that fast, unless the government is ready for collapse.
Weren't there also protests in 2018 and in every subsequent year? If so, then organization is not so far fetched.
 

Feanor

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Weren't there also protests in 2018 and in every subsequent year? If so, then organization is not so far fetched.
Kazakhstan has 3 major clans, the 3 Zhuzes. The senior Zhuz basically runs the country, and the other two get some share of political posts somewhat in proportion to their influence. In my opinion one of the two smaller Zhuzes are behind the current uprising, and I wouldn't be surprised if the banner of Kazakh nationalism gets raised as a way to garner support. This is another reason why I don't think this will end in democracy.

Update time.

There are reports that Kazakh security forces fired on basically anyone found in the streets of Alma-Aty.. So far the reports are unconfirmed. It would make sense within the context of the last info that the rioters were surrounded in the center of Alma-Aty. There are also reports of a failed massed assault on police headquarters and attacks on multiple smaller police stations in Alma-Ata, that ended with dozens killed. The presidential residency in Alma-Ata was also captured.


There are reports of over 2000 arrested, and dozens killed. Allegedly there was a firefight between a large group of armed rioters (200+) and military and police. A total of 8 law enforcement and military are reported dead, and 317 wounded, so far in these riots.


Russian military transport aircraft are actively flying between Moscow and Kazakhstan, and Belarus. There will be reported around 4000-4500 peacekeepers, most of (~3000) them from Russia. Reportedly units have already begun to arrive inside Kazakhstan, and there are supposedly going to be troops from Tadjikistan, Kirgiziya, and Armenia too. It's possible those countries will contribute token contingents, or even small groups of advisers, as a way of binding the CSTO closer together and avoid the image that this is a Russian takeover.


Reports from a Russian blogger inside Alma-Ata state that most of the protesters aren't locals, and instead are from the country-side, people who came to the city for work. He describes them as very aggressive, throwing rocks at anyone who attempts to film. He also states that locals are mostly hiding in doors.

 

Big_Zucchini

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Kazakhstan has 3 major clans, the 3 Zhuzes. The senior Zhuz basically runs the country, and the other two get some share of political posts somewhat in proportion to their influence. In my opinion one of the two smaller Zhuzes are behind the current uprising, and I wouldn't be surprised if the banner of Kazakh nationalism gets raised as a way to garner support. This is another reason why I don't think this will end in democracy.
That'll show me not to jump to conclusions.
 
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