Anti-government protests errupted across Kazakhstan on May 21. Dozens of protesters gathered in the main squares of major cities, including such cities as Astana and Almaty, in order to express the discontent with the government. A series of demonstrations started last month in response to the government’s plans to privatise large tracts of farmland. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has vetoed the controversial initiative.
However, protests have continued with a wide range of political demands. May 20, Kazakh police reported they had found caches of Molotov cocktails, gasoline and iron rods near the protest site in Almaty. These kinds of improvised weapons used in protests in Ukraine during the coup in 2014. Experts believe that this scenario is fueled by foreign powers, interested to destabilize the Central Asian country.
The Kazakh authorities were pushed to implement counter measures to prevent the illegal riots across the country. Kazakhstan’s deputy prosecutor general, Andrei Kravchenko said on May 21 that 40 people had been arrested for organising and taking part in these unauthorised demonstrations. In turn, the Western media produced a wide range of accusation against the Nazarbayev regime, blaming it for breaking up the so-called “peaceful protests” and arguing that hundreds of protesters have been detained.
Today, Kazakhstan plays a significant in the regional security. The joined forces of Russia and Kazakhstan are the last barrier preventing the ISIS expansion in the Central Asia. If Kazakhstan is destabilized, the situation in the Central Asia will worsen, significantly.
The way for an Islamist expansion and destabilization of the whole region will be open. Some Western experts argue that the recent developments in Kazakhstan could be fueled by Russia or China, both have a wide interests in the country. However, SouthFront hardly believes that Moscow or Beijing can be interested in creation of a new zone of instability at their borders.
The last major player in the region is the United States, widely known as a mastermind of color revolutions around the world. Using the protests, some powers in Washington can hope to put pressure on the Kazakh government to gain some diplomatic dividends. Or they even hope to change the Nazarbayev regime, creating chaos at the borders of the main geopolitical opponents.
These moves are supported by some internal forces in Kazakhstan. Local clans, dissatisfied by Nazarbayev’s policy, have been making an attempt to redivide the financial flows and the share of the political power. Furthermore, US units, specialized in psychological operations around the world, have some time amid a formal stability of the situation in Syria and Ukraine. This fact could be used as a formal cause to intensify the actions in the Central Asia.