Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s coup d’etat. 08.01.2022

"A true friend will stab you in the front".
(c) Oscar Wilde.

What began in Kazakhstan immediately after New Year Eve was not straight obvious. At first sight, it seemed that it was another "Colour Revolution" in the post-Soviet country, except for one thing. "Colour Revolutions" are made for specific pro-Western leaders and their teams. They do not happen "out of the blue". The current revolution in Kazakhstan has a drafter and leader - the present President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. However, people are not encouraged to speak about it publicly, and current events in Kazakhstan had no relation to the United States of America or any foreign country in general. It all started as a purely internal "showdown" of Kazakhstan's elite, completely out of control. I will write about it in details...

There was a unique situation in Kazakhstan, when the leader of the country Nursultan Nazarbayev, who used to rule Kazakhstan almost thirty years before, voluntarily left his position and handed over his presidential power to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the country at that time. They even renamed Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, to Nursultan to honour this event. Meanwhile, the real power remained with Nursultan Nazarbayev. He became the head of the Kazakhstan Security Council, through which he continued to control all law enforcement agencies of the Republic; he also became a member of the Constitutional Council of Kazakhstan. A month and a half ago, on November 23, 2021, Nazarbayev gave Tokayev the reins of power in the Nur Otan party, a local Kazakhstani party of power. So at the beginning of 2022, Nazarbayev still had complete control over Kazakhstan siloviki and a huge side financial empire he built during all years of his stay in power.

What happened at the beginning of 2022? Given the constant price increases in Kazakhstan, the local gas companies decided to increase the price of liquefied gas sharply. They decided to double it - from 60 to 120 Kazakhstani tenge per litre (about $0.27). Residents of Zhanaozen, where significant unrest has been frequent before, decided to hold rallies against such price increases. At the same time, "someone" started planned protests all over Kazakhstan with the "Old Man, go away!" slogan and direct demands of Nursultan Nazarbayev's resignation from all positions, as well as the resignation of the Government of Kazakhstan. Protests continued to be though massively, but peacefully enough till January 5. Moreover, by January 5, the Government of Kazakhstan reduced the prices for liquefied gas to 50 tenge per litre (i.e. even lower than before the crisis). At the same time, on January 5, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dismissed Nursultan Nazarbayev from all posts and appointed himself as the head of the Security Council of Kazakhstan and dissolved the Government of Kazakhstan. At the same time, he dismissed Karim Massimov, close to Nursultan Nazarbayev, from the post of the head of the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan and appointed Yermek Sagimbayev, "his inside man", to this post. Against this background, the situation in Kazakhstan sharply changed, and, for instance, a real war started in Almaty, and some "protesters", who most likely are the staff of special services loyal to Nazarbaev, got the MANPADS missiles. Tokayev lost control over practically all of Kazakhstan, except for the capital.

What actions has Tokayev taken with respect to this situation? He claimed that 20,000 terrorists attacked Kazakhstan (apparently, they teleported from the moon), demanded to open fire without warning as a crackdown on protesters and requested the intervention of military units from the CSTO.

As a journalist and political scientist, I can consider the actions of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev very unambiguously. This is a coup d'etat. At the same time, there is no reliable information about what is happening in Kazakhstan right now. However, most likely, the "20,000 terrorists", which Tokayev is speaking about, are the military and special services staff, loyal to Nursultan Nazarbayev, which take control of the situation in Kazakhstan in stages, when they mobilize 18-years "conscripts" against them, as it was seen on the video near Aktau airport. In this case, no one knows where Nursultan Nazarbayev is, which is quite evident since the main goal of the conspirators at the moment is his elimination.

The intervention of CSTO troops in Kazakhstan is one more thing to discuss. It is had on good authority that units from Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia have been sent to Kazakhstan. The Armenian and Kyrgyz military forces are very symbolic - about 200 people. However, the Russian contingent can be as many as several thousand men. The CSTO troops are deployed at the request of President Tokayev since Tokayev himself has no control over the law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Such intervention is also regarded unambiguously and with far-reaching conclusions, most likely with consequences.

The question now is, will Nursultan Nazarbayev be able to return power in Kazakhstan? Or will people get some other result from all this confrontation? At the moment, only one thing is certain: there was an attempt of coup d'etat in Kazakhstan, and for the moment, there is a real civil war going on, where the sides of the conflict are still very difficult to discern. However, there is a chance that the main "red rag" will be the Russian army once again.

Dmitry Ershov, political scientist.

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