Notes on Kazakhstan

We publish these notes on the current flash point within US, Russian and Chinese spheres of influence. Thanks to Ray Bergmann for putting these notes together.

Bernhardt @ MoonofAlabama blog wrote “Mysteries Of The Failed Rebellion In Kazakhstan” on 8-Jan-2022 [], linking it to his article “The U.S. Directed Rebellion in Kazakhstan May Well Strengthen Russia” on 6-Jan-2022.

Bernhardt explains that in early 2019 the Pentagon financed think-tank RAND published an extensive 350 page long plan for soft attacks on Russia, which described it “ as elements in a campaign designed to unbalance the adversary, leading Russia to compete in domains or regions where the United States has a competitive advantage, and causing Russia to overextend itself militarily or economically or causing the regime to lose domestic and/or international prestige and influence.”

Since the report came out the first four of the six ‘geopolitical measures’ listed in chapter 4 of the report have been implemented.

The U.S. delivered lethal weapons to Ukraine (1), it increased its support for ‘rebels’ in Syria (2). It attempted a regime change in Belarus (3) and instigated a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia (5). The U.S. is now implementing measure 5 which aims to ‘reduce Russia’s influence in Central Asia’. (Measure 6 on the list is “Challenge Russia’s presence in Moldova” – coming soon, presumably.)

Over the last decade there have been several uprisings (2011, 2016 and 2019) in Kazakhstan. These were mostly caused by uneven distribution of income from its minerals including oil and gas. The oligarchs in the capital of Astana / Nur-Sultan live well while the provinces which produce the minerals, like Mangistauskaya in the south-west, have seen few developments.

Recently the price for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), used by many cars in Kazakhstan, went up after the government had liberalized the market. This caused another round of country wide protests:

The string of rallies that has torn through Kazakhstan since January 2 began in the western oil town of Zhanaozen, ostensibly triggered by anger over a sudden spike in the price of car fuel. Similar impromptu gatherings then quickly spread to nearby villages in the Mangystau region and then in multiple other locations in the west, in cities like Aktau, Atyrau and Aktobe. By January 4, people had come out onto the streets in numbers in locations many hundreds of kilometers away, in the southern towns of Taraz, Shymkent and Kyzyl-Orda, in the north, in the cities of Uralsk and Kostanai, as well as in Almaty and Nur-Sultan, the capital, among other places.

Few saw scenes as fiery as those in Almaty, though.

Clashes in Almaty continued throughout the night into January 5. After being dispersed by police from Republic Square, part of the crowd headed around two kilometers downhill, to another historic location in the city, Astana Square, where the seat of government used to be located in Soviet times.

While there is little reliable way to gauge the scale of the demonstrations, a combination of on-the-ground reporting and video footage appears to indicate that these protests may be even larger than those that brought the country to a near-standstill in 2016.

While the grievances that sparked the first rallies in Zhanaozen were to do with fuel prices, the sometimes rowdy demonstrations that have followed appear to be of a more general nature. Chants of “shal ket!” (“old man go!”), usually understood as a reference to former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who continues to wield significant sway from behind the scenes, have been heard at many of the demos.

The protests escalated soon with gangs of armed protesters taking control of government buildings and setting them on fire. There were also attempts to take control of radio and TV stations as well as the airport. Police, which generally did little to intervene, were gunned down.

The actions in Almaty, the country’s largest city and former capital, are certainly not spontaneous reactions by a crowd of poor laborers but controlled actions by well trained groups of armed ‘rebels’.

Peter Leonard @Peter__Leonard – 9:18 UTC · 6 Jan 2022
Kazakhstan: Very important and intriguing detail with strong shades of Kyrgyzstan 2020. Peaceful people initiate rallies, but shady and violent individuals turn up to sow trouble, and it is never remotely clear who they are or where they came from /1

From one account I heard, a similar dynamic played out in Almaty on Wednesday morning. A relatively small and mild gathering formed on Republic Square, opposite city hall. All of a sudden hundreds of extremely aggressive men turned up, threatening all and sundry #Kazakhstan /2

They threatened and attacked journalists standing nearby, ordering anybody who took photographs to delete the images. It was clearly this cohort that was responsible for much of the destruction. And it is a mystery (to me) who they were /3

We have seen similar formations during the U.S. instigated uprisings in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Belarus.

NEXTA, the U.S. financed regime change media network in Poland which last year directed the failed color revolution attempt in Belarus, announced the U.S. demands:

NEXTA @nexta_tv – 13:52 UTC · Jan 5, 2022 
Demands of the Protesters in #Kazakhstan1. Immediate release of all political prisoners2. Full resignation of president and government3. Political reforms:Creation of a Provisional Government of reputable and public citizens. Withdrawal from all alliances with #Russia

A more reliable source confirms these:

Maxim A. Suchkov @m_suchkov – 14:43 UST · Jan 5, 2022
The list of demands of protestors in #Kazakhstan that’s been circulating is interesting, to put it mildly.While most demands focus on bolstering social & economic support & countering corruption points #1, 7, 10, 13, 16 expose the roots of protest & who’s driving them

#1 demands that #Kazakhstan should leave Eurasian Economic union.#7 demands legalization of polygamy “for certain groups of the population” & prohibition on marriage with foreigners#10 demands independence for Mangystau region &^that revenues of oil companies remain in Mangystau

Caveat: this list been circulating a lot on telegram – could be fake or not representative of what protestors want, though it appears protestors are a diverse group that includes genuinely disgruntled people, political manipulators, “prof revolutionaries” (that were in UKR & BEL), etc

The government of Kazakhstan has since lowered the LPG prices. On January 5 President Tokayev relieved the ‘First President’ Nazarbayev of his position as chairman of the Security Council and promised to act tough on armed protesters.

Kazakhstan is part of the Russian led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) as well as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). On the morning of January 5 Tokayev had a phone call with the presidents of Russia and Belarus. He has mobilized airborne units of the armed forces of Kazakhstan. On the evening of January 5 he requested support from the CSTO against the ‘foreign directed terrorists’ which are fighting the security forces…

The CIA offshoot National Endowment for Democracy is financing some 20 ‘civil society’ regime change programs in Kazakhstan with about $50,000 per annum each. The involved organizations  currently seem to be mostly quiet but are a sure sign that the U.S. is playing a role behind the scenes. On December 16 details of upcoming demonstrations were announced by the U.S. embassy in Kazakhstan.

It is likely that this pre-planned Central Asia part of the ‘Extending Russia’ program has been implemented prematurely as a response to Russia’s recent ultimatum with regards to Ukraine and NATO. Its sole purpose is to unbalance the Russian leadership in Moscow by diverting its attention towards the south.

I however believe that Russia has prepared for such eventualities. They will not affect its plans and demands.

What is difficult to discern though is what is really happening behind the scenes in Astana/Nur-Sultan. Has Tokayev, who was previously seen as a mere puppet of Nazarbayev, really replaced him? His control of the security forces is somewhat in doubt:

Liveuamap @Liveuamap – 19:18 UTC · Jan 5, 2022
Tokayev dismissed the head of his security guard Saken Isabekov. Also, the President dismissed the Deputy Head of the State Security Service of the Republic of Kazakhstan from his post

But the outcome of the whole game is quite predictable:

Mark Ames @MarkAmesExiled – 14:31 UTC · Jan 5, 2022

The grim likelihood, given all the various “revolutions” in the FSU the past 20 years, is that Kazakhstan’s street protests [will be] instrumentalized by a powerful clan to replace the ruling oligarchy with a new oligarchy.

The CSTO troops which are now landing in Almaty will take a few days to end the rebellion. The outcome is not in doubt.

Moscow, not Washington DC, will have a big say in who will come out at the top.

It is quite possible that the results of the whole affair will, like the failed U.S. regime change attempts in Belarus, not weaken but strengthen Russia:

Dmitri Trenin @DmitriTrenin – 7:57 UTC · 6 Jan 2022#
Kazakhstan is another test, after #Belarus, of RUS ability to help stabilize its formal allies w/o alienating their populations. As 1st action by CSTO since founding in 1999, it is major test for bloc. Lots of potential pitfalls around, but can be big boon if Moscow succeeds.

The above was posted by b at Moon of Alabama blog on January 6, 2022 at 9:19 UTC with links to Andrei Martinov’s “Khazakstan Sitrep” and to Huaxia (Xinhua editor)’s “Roundup: Kazakhstan eyes post-riot restoration as situation stabilizes” as below:


Andrei Martinov’s “Khazakstan Sitrep”, published on 8Jan-2022 [] presented a video entitled Geopolitical Sitrep 01-08-22 (i.e. 08-Jan-2022) noting that “Turkish role becomes more visible behind Kazakh events and there is a definite desperation on West’s part re: upcoming negotiations, judging by the number of statements from NATO all of which ring completely hollow. Especially against the background of Russia’s reaction to Kazakh upheaval.”


On 8-Jan-2022 Marcelo Zero published Brazil, Khazakstan and the Grand Chess-board“ [], noting that “Like Brazil under Workers Party Governance, Kazakhstan has tried to maintain a balancing act by maintaining good relations with China, Russia, the US and Europe. Like Brazil under the PT, this isn’t good enough for the US State Department “.

The following is from the end part of Marcelo Zero’s article:

The resignation of Nazarbayev in 2019 and the beginning of the political and administrative reform that gives more powers to the oil and gas producing regions are part of guidelines to deepen Kazakhstan’s ties with the West. However, the US strategy seems to be to always try to destabilize all regimes that are friendly to Russia and China, even if they are not hostile to Washington.

If the US succeeds in putting a decisively pro-Washington regime in Kazakhstan that is hostile to Russia and China, as it did in Ukraine, Moscow’s strategy of uniting the former Soviet republics and China’s strategy of broadening its influence with the New Silk Road would be substantially compromised. There is a lot at stake.

Despite its remote chances of success, this bet by Washington reveals the degree of aggressiveness of US foreign policy, especially under the Biden administration. Everything indicates that, for Washington, it is not enough for a government to have good relations with the US, it must also have a distant or even hostile relationship, with Russia, China, Iran and all other countries considered “enemies” by the State Department. It is a foreign policy strategy that bets on conflict and geopolitical exclusion. It is a foreign policy that makes it hard to ever put an end to the global crisis.

If this policy is underway in Central Asia, imagine how much worse it is for Latin America, a region that the US has considered as its own “backyard” since the 19th Century. Dilma Rousseff was deposed and Lula was arrested in an operation triggered by the US Department of Justice due, essentially, to Brazil’s independent foreign policy, which was not remotely hostile to Washington and its allies but placed emphasis on sovereign regional integration and strategic alliances with emerging powers, contrary to US interests.

The dispute for Brazil in the Americas is as important as the dispute for Kazakhstan is in Central Asia. Depending on the outcome Brazil will either be able to lead our region towards integrated sovereignty or sink it into definitive dependence.

In other words, Kazakhstan and Brazil are game-changing pieces on the geopolitical chess board.


On 09-Jan-2022 Huaxia, the editor of Xinhua, presented “Roundup: Kazakhstan eyes post-riot restoration as situation stabilizes” []

Below is reproduced a large part of the article:

At a government meeting on Saturday, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev urged the restoration of administrative and public facilities in the largest city of Almaty and other regions hit by the terrorist attacks. The president asked the prosecutor general, chairman of the National Security Committee, and acting ministers of internal affairs and defense to continue efforts to pacify the perpetrators…

Tokayev informed Putin of the latest developments, noting that the situation is stabilizing. He also thanked Kazakhstan’s partners from the CSTO, particularly Russia, for their assistance…

Later, Putin had phone calls with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to discuss the Kazakh tensions and the organizing of the CSTO summit.

Also on Saturday, Tokayev relieved Azamat Abdymomunov, who was the deputy secretary of Kazakhstan’s powerful Security Council. This came after Tokayev dismissed Karim Masimov, who was chairman of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee, on Wednesday. He was detained a day later on suspicion of high treason.

The Commonwealth of Independence States (CIS) Executive Committee said in a statement on Saturday that “the bandits” prepared in advance for the mass demonstrations in order to destabilize the situation in Kazakhstan, and that they had received support from abroad.

The CIS Executive Committee fully supports the measures taken by the leadership of Kazakhstan and the CSTO countries to restore law and order, its Chairman Sergei Lebedev said in the statement.

Violent protests sparked by fuel price hikes have been rocking Kazakhstan for several days, leading to multiple deaths and many injuries. A total of 4,404 people have been reportedly detained across the country.   


 On 12-Jan-22 Pepe Escobar published “After Kazakhstan, the color revolution era is over

(What happened in Kazakhstan increasingly looks like a US-Turkish-British-Israeli-led coup d’etat attempt foiled dramatically by their Eurasian adversaries) [


Pepe Escobar thinks that after the Eurasian partners of CSTO foiled the color revolution in Khazakstan there will probably be no more of the type, however we still have number 6 “Challenge Russia’s presence in Moldova” on the RAND list of programs to destabilise Russia, so we should expect to see that soon!

My guess is the next set of plans to come out of the likes of the RAND corporation will be conjuring up similar ways of continuing to destabilize Russia, China, and all the members of the CSTO.

Ray Bergmann
January 2022

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