In Kazakhstan, President Tokayev puts an end to the Nazarbayev era

After almost a week of almost total blackout, authorities reconnected Kazakhstan’s largest city to the Internet. For a few hours only, on January 10, the time for the inhabitants of Almaty to send reassuring messages to their relatives, friends and colleagues. And also to send photos of streets strewn with cartridge cases and strewn with charred police cars and military trucks, hundreds of storefronts smashed by looters or even the blackened facade of the town hall, invaded and partly burnt down during the week. past.

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A violence that is an exception across the country and which today feeds many speculations, while President Tokayev, seen until recently as a simple puppet in the hands of his powerful predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, appears to be the big winner of the crisis.

Kassym-Jomart Tokaïev on the maneuver

In power since the fall of the USSR, Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81, left the presidency in 2019, while retaining real power within the security council responsible for advising the head of state. But at the start of the unrest, on January 5, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ejected him from the said council.

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Comforted by the arrival of Russian soldiers in the country and the end of the dispute, the Head of State allowed himself, on Tuesday January 11, to criticize in a speech the one who still has the official title of “Head of the nation” : “Thanks to him, very profitable companies have emerged in the country as well as a caste of wealthy people, far beyond international standards. “

A tribute loaded with acrimony, just a few days after demonstrations motivated above all by the glaring inequality of Kazakh society. The head of the local security service, a Nazarbayev loyalist, was sacked and charged with high treason. He is accused of not having seen the crisis coming.

A scenario still unclear

“The main result of these events is the end of the Nazarbayev era”, analysts Alexandre Gabouev and Temur Umarov explain in a note published by the Carnegie Center. But how this era ended still raises a number of questions. “We always try to understand what is happening exactly”, entrusted to The cross Ben Godwin, director of analysis at the political risk management company Prism, which has a strong presence in Central Asia. “On the one hand, there were demonstrations for socio-economic reasons and, on the other, armed and highly organized violence. “

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This is the case, in particular, in Almaty where, according to official figures, there are 103 of the 160 killed during the week of the crisis. Combined with the initial passivity of the Kazakh security forces, the violence that unleashed across the city could, according to several informed observers, result from a clan struggle within the Kazakh elite. “It is possible that some of these violent groups were close to former President Nazarbayev”, thus entrusted the defender of human rights Evgueni Jovtis to the media OpenDemocracy.

In an extremely tense context, the deployment of troops from the Collective Security Treaty Organization led by Russia “Was a signal to the elite and to the security services that Moscow supports Tokayev”, assures Ben Godwin. Last great unknown: the fate of Nursultan Nazarbayev, remained completely silent throughout the crisis.


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