The end of operation “Transit”: what lesson the authorities will learn from the Kazakhstani events

Kazakh warnings

Shots on the streets of Kazakh cities are heard less and less, but the smoke still densely envelops the field of the fading battle. What was it: a civil war, foreign aggression, a revolution, an uprising of the impoverished, desperate lower classes, a revolt of extremists, a coup? Disputes about the nature and nature of the January events will go on for a long time, and there is absolutely no need to wait for the truth that suits everyone to be born in them. But whatever it was, some conclusions can be drawn today.

Photo: AP

So, what does the bitter but instructive Kazakhstani experience warn us about? First, that decorative democracy is an extremely unstable structure. The high ratings and electoral results of the “fathers of the nation” and the parties in power loyal to them (or, more precisely, parties in power) give the illusion of stability, but by no means stability itself. The dependence here is rather the opposite: the higher the official percentage of popular support, the weaker the real support.

It is worth recalling that the current Kazakhstani leader, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, won the early presidential elections in June 2019 with a triumphant 70.96 percent of the vote. The latest result of the Nur Otan party, the Kazakh analogue of United Russia (elections to the Mazhilis, the lower house of the republic's parliament, took place in January 2021), was 71.09 percent.

In theory, these figures should testify about the incredible popularity of the president and his party, about the strong selfless love of the people. What is it really?

In fact, many different people poured into the streets and squares of Kazakhstani cities during these troubled January days. They poured out those dissatisfied with the rise in prices and dissatisfied with the government as a whole. Onlookers poured out. Pogromists and looters poured out. There was only one category – staunch supporters of Tokayev and Nur Otan, led by him. Although this category, if the election results are to be believed, covers all others, like a bull to a sheep.

Where have gone, where have all these broad masses of ardent admirers of power disappeared? Why didn't they give their chosen ones a shoulder in difficult times, why didn't they come out to defend the administrative buildings and offices of the beloved Nur Otan party? Although perhaps more pertinent is another question: were there really these fans? Is this not a myth created by controlled, rigged elections and rampant propaganda? And the only possible answer is yes, a myth.

Exactly the same as the myth of a powerful, stable Kazakhstan, confidently moving forward along the path of authoritarian modernization, of a new, Central Asian Singapore. It turned out that the splendor of the Astana City is completely insufficient to repeat the success of Lee Kuan Yew. To repeat the success of Lee Kuan Yew, you need Lee Kuan Yew himself with his firm anti-corruption principles.

“Start by planting three of your friends. You know exactly why, and they know why. ” It is not a fact that the phrase attributed to “the father of the Singaporean economic miracle” was actually uttered by him. But she perfectly characterizes the style of his government. The sovereign style of Nazarbayev-Tokayev was completely different: friends, relatives and other “friends”, members of the ruling clan – everything, “strangers” – what will remain, enemies – persecution and exile.

Warning number 2: to ignore, in Lenin's language, “the need and misery of the oppressed classes and their desire to change their lives for the better” can be long. But – not indefinitely. The main problem here is in the same model of power, which does not allow the bifurcation point to be recognized in time. How to understand that the people are dissatisfied, that a social explosion is about to happen, if there is a continuous “approval” around, the ratings are bursting up and one electoral victoria follows another?

However, as the same wise Ilyich taught, “ for the onset of a revolution it is usually not enough that “the lower classes do not want”, but it is also required that the “upper classes cannot” live in the old way. ” The leader of the world proletariat considered the most important prerequisite for a revolutionary upheaval to be “a government crisis that draws even the most backward masses into politics.”

But in this respect, in Kazakhstan, everything went as written. The crisis at the top became an inevitable consequence of the “transit” in Kazakhstan, a bifurcation of power, strongly reminiscent of the Russian experience of ten years ago, known as the “era of tandem.” repetition of similar experiments. Indeed, in our case, the case ended with a political crisis and mass protests – albeit in the “light” version.

Well, the events in Kazakhstan seem to put the final end to this scenario. Events in Kazakhstan teach that diversification of power in an authoritarian political model is a direct and very fast path to its collapse. Two elbasy do not live in the same den. Either one will crush the other, disregarding all constitutional guarantees and informal agreements, or both will be taken out of the den at once.

In general, there is no doubt that our government will learn at least one lesson from what happened in the neighboring country. Regarding the rest of the Kazakh warnings, alas, there is no such confidence. On the contrary, there is a serious suspicion that we will go the other way – not the thaw, but the deep freeze. That in the long term will only increase political risks.

Fresh anecdote in the topic:

“What do you think will happen after the protests in Kazakhstan?

– It is clear that: nuts. The last independent media will be closed, all dissidents will be imprisoned …

– Well, this is understandable, we have it. And what will happen in Kazakhstan? ”

The voice of the people is the voice of God.


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