by Anonymous
Friday, 4
March 2022
Dispatch
16:09

Russian sanctions bring Kazakhstan to the brink

On top of existing tensions and police brutality, my country may not survive
by Anonymous
Credit: Getty

Kazakhstan

Since the beginning of March, Kazakhstan is facing possibly the greatest challenge in its short history since independence. It is still unclear how the events will unfold, but what is obvious is that Kazakhstan’s economy will be under pressure. Russia is a key neighbour to Kazakhstan — the two countries share 2,700 kilometres in borders. In terms of its close bilateral integration with the economy of Russia (up to 40% of imports), as well as in terms of the obligations of the Eurasian Economic Union, Kazakhstan is already experiencing the impact of sanctions. 

As a landlocked country with no ability to enter European markets directly, Kazakhstan will experience an exponential decrease in imports and exports, and with time a deficit of goods and services, an increase in prices, and a devaluation of the national currency.

Our President has steered Kazakhstan firmly into Vladimir Putin’s sphere of influence, so that the government’s fate has become intimately bound up with his. All this is posing a serious risk of further destabilisation for Kazakh society.

The protests two months ago started in the south-east in response to a large rise in gas prices, but quickly spread to other regions. They were fuelled by mass dissatisfaction with the government and economic inequality. The Government responded by issuing shoot-to-kill orders without warning.

During the unrest, over 8,000 protestors were arrested. Over the past two months, many have been detained, often for long periods of time without justification. As I see from reports by Human Rights Watch, many people suffered from torture, and just a few days ago even the authorities admitted that six people detained died from torture. These are just ordinary Kazakhstanis.

People are scared. Our biggest wish is for a semblance of normality to return. Our country is at a risk of division, not just because of war and sanctions, but also because continuous police brutality causes great pain.

An amnesty for all would be the first step towards reconciliation. We also want to see a transparent and open investigation into everything that occurred during the protests, as well as after. The future of Kazakhstan hangs in the balance. Our cries for justice must be heard.

To ensure their safety and well-being, and that of their family members, the author has remained anonymous.

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Alexander Morrison
Alexander Morrison
3 months ago

I lived in Kazakhstan for three and a half years, and have many friends there – it is a fine country, with fine people (and a much less fine government). They are all going to suffer from the sanctions imposed on Russia, although their country is in no way responsible for the unfolding disaster that is Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The same is true of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, which rely heavily on remittances from migrant labourers in Russia, who are now out of work. But what is the alternative? Even the current sanctions are not fierce enough. We need to stop buying Russian gas and oil altogether. If this causes the Central Asian regimes to rethink their relationship with the psychopath in the Kremlin that might not be such a bad thing.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 months ago

Thank you for this.

I hadn’t thought about sanctions on Russia affecting neighbouring countries, but undoubtedly they will.

I’ve visited Kazakhstan several times in the years 1998-2011, to Almaty (a fine city), Atyrau, Uralsk and Aksai (not so fine).

Last edited 3 months ago by Brendan O'Leary
R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago

“Our President has steered Kazakhstan firmly into Vladimir Putin’s sphere of influence, so that the government’s fate has become intimately bound up with his.”
Well that was stupid wasn’t it? Perhaps the Kazakhs should try to get rid of him?

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
3 months ago

Our President has steered Kazakhstan firmly into Vladimir Putin’s sphere of influence, so that the government’s fate has become intimately bound up with his.”

As much as I feel for the author’s homeland, isn’t this exactly what is intended by sanctions? Sanctions divide the world: if you want our business, you must be “with us” and ostracize “them”.

I think we could all use some clarity and acknowledge more grey areas in this particular case. Is firing Russian composers and musicians who won’t denounce their own country really fair? EA Sports pulls all the Russian teams out of FIFA Soccer video game? Really? Even virtual Russians are evil! But alas, we’re in a mob, and mobs don’t think.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
3 months ago

Snot fair. Boo hoo. They all want Western culture but hate us? Time for historical reparations to the West- the net, penicillin, tarmac, motor cars, chemical industry, most modern art etc etc. Pay us trillions. No? Ok stop wearing Western clothes, eschew consumer goods. IKEA just pulled out. If you live in some crumbling unpainted crappy 1960s vast block,like huge numbers of Russians still do, IKEA brought a little bit of a nicer life. Gone- and Putin, who loathes ordinary Russians who like anything Western (except for himself with his German Yacht and Italian luxury goods) doesn’t give a damn. Still, the Orthodox philosophy is that suffering is necessary for salvation. Maybe they like suffering?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago

Tough luck. Should have taken the opportunity to wrestle free of Russia while you had it – if you’d embraced China, a ‘slightly’ less oppressive entity, they’d now be looking after you.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
3 months ago

Cosy up to NATO, get foreign intelligence services to invest billions in ultranationalist propaganda, and then taunt and threaten Russia, while oppressing their minority for 10+ years. See where that gets you.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

Do you not think those Baltic states have been proven right in their desperation to join NATOs defence pact, after seeing Russias actions in Georgia, Crimea and the rest of Ukraine?

Riccardo Tomlinson
Riccardo Tomlinson
3 months ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

Yes the moral of the story is: be a big aggressive country, threaten your neighbours, and cry foul when they show any sign of wanting any control at all over their own destinies. Cool story bro…

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 months ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

Do you mean the Russian-speaking minority that the president of Ukraine belongs to?

Aleksandra Kovacevic
Aleksandra Kovacevic
3 months ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

Don’t forget to conduct joint military exercises with NATO 60 miles from the Russian border and put it on facebook! (And it would be helpful if your ‘president’ was actually an actor, able to convincingly read scripts that the US give him).

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago

Wonderful justification for the slaughter of civilians.