Kazakh explosion: a multi-layered pie of interests. Part two

MOSCOW, 14 Jan 2022, RUSSTRAT Institute.

The first part is here.

From revolution to revolt. The next layer of the Kazakh process, apparently unrelated to the initial phase in the west of the country, is the events in Alma-Ata and other cities of the republic.

Seizures of government buildings, although traditional for “colour revolutions”, are perceived by observers only when they are carried out after overcoming the resistance of the authorities. And then the following happened. The authorities accepted the main demands of the protest. Gas prices are frozen, and the government is resigning.

There seems to be no grounds for protest. But the “colour revolution” is in action and cannot stop. The protesters in Atyrau and Aktau (clearly unprepared for such compliance by the authorities) are trying to formulate new demands (it turns out to be confusing and inconsistent). And at this moment, the initiative is intercepted by another part of the Kazakh “protest field”.

The fugitive criminal oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov (the Kazakh “Khodorkovsky”), who is the only prominent opposition figure in Kazakh politics, takes on the role of protest leader and uncorks his network of supporters in Kazakhstan and hires “professional” rebels, including in neighbouring countries, mainly in Kyrgyzstan, a country with a long history of colour revolutions and coups. This explains the presence of a large number of Kyrgyz among the detainees.

Ablyazov, who had been building a network of supporters for many years after his flight from Kazakhstan, did not really think about the demands and slogans. They were reduced to seizing government buildings and seizing power in favour of Ablyazov.

Why can we say that the attempt of the “colour revolution” that began in Aktau and Atyrau and Ablyazov’s actions were not carried out from the same centre?

The fact is that since the beginning of the seizure and arson of government buildings, the “protest” has been divided into two groups. In the cities of Kazakhstan, parallel rallies were held supporting the demands of the “colour revolution” from Aktau and Atyrau, and groups of people went straight to the buildings of government and law enforcement bodies, seized and set fire to them. Two centres, two “protests” two speeds of “colour revolutions”.

That is, something went wrong for Ablyazov, namely, competitors appeared in the seizure of power. The very ones that the authorities described as communicating in Arabic. But more on that later.

“Salafist raid” and “palace coup”

Ablyazov’s coup was supposed to follow a linear pattern. Seizures of government buildings and law enforcement bodies. First in the south of the country, then everywhere. And when the forces of power are already dispersed in the regions, make an attempt to seize power in the centre. But such a scheme requires either a complete paralysis of power, or resources that Ablyazov and his curators did not have in sufficient volume.

At this point, unknown armed individuals appeared (perhaps this is the trigger that is being discussed in the article “Kazakhstan: intelligence agency conspiracy or revolution“), who instantly attacked police stations, seized the building of the National Security Committee (NSC) in Alma-Ata, the airport, tried to take the TV centre, the border guard school and other key points. As the authorities will later say – people who spoke Arabic.

Where do the Arabs come from in Kazakhstan in commercial quantities? Everything is simple. In the recent past, the country’s authorities conducted Operation Zhusan to return people from Syria who participated in the activities of the Islamic State movement.

According to official figures, more than 600 people were returned, mostly women and children. Unofficial estimates range from 600 to 2,500 militants who were resettled under the supervision of the State Security Service. ISIS fighters not only have a great command of weapons, but they also know Arabic, which allows them to use it for communication without being misunderstood by the security forces.

It was to these individuals that the arsenal was transferred without a fight from the Alma-Ata department of the National Security Committee, several regional and district departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They would be the basis for the seizure of power, the resignation of President Tokayev, and then the salvation of this power by the forces of people loyal to Massimov.

Most likely, Massimov became the executor of this plan when at a meeting of the Security Council of Kazakhstan it became clear what the mood of Tokayev’s team members was, and that they were potentially ready to seek help from the CSTO (read Russia).

Time didn’t stand still. It was precisely then that the Alma-Ata airport was taken to prevent a possible landing of CSTO troops, an attack on the border guard academy and an attempt to take weapons depots began.

Why did Massimov need this? Most likely for self-preservation. Information has long been leaking about Tokayev’s desire to remove Massimov to the margins of power. And Tokayev himself, according to people from the Nazarbayev clan, had been sitting for too long. Mr Tokayev, who was appointed by Mr Nazarbayev as the interim head of state, and whose term ends in 2024, appears to have refused to begin the transit of power back into the fold of Mr Nazarbayev’s “clan”. Presumably, Samat Abish was to become the new head of government and a new candidate for president of Kazakhstan in 2024. But Tokayev objected to this, not wanting to give up the presidential seat.

In this case, it was extremely profitable to go for a coup d’etat, taking advantage of the protests in the west of the country and the Ablyaz revolt.

Returned ISIS fighters and mercenaries, who were under the supervision of the National Security Committee, overthrow Tokayev with weapons obtained from the buildings of the National Security Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, after which they are cleared by the NSC with Massimov as the master of the process.

It is not yet clear whether Massimov personally organised the coup for himself or for his deputy in the NSC Abish. But it is obvious that he did this in order to preserve himself in the struggle between Tokayev and Nazarbayev for power in Kazakhstan.

Everything indicates the existence of a conspiracy. And the arrest of Massimov, and the “arrest” and then the “urgent release” of Abish, and the mysterious death of high-ranking officials (only according to media reports, four people already) in the NSC and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. But the CSTO troops appeared, and the plot failed. At the same time, although the conspiracy failed, it is still very far from a fully-fledged settlement of the situation in Kazakhstan.

And the fact that Tokayev is in a hurry to get rid of the CSTO forces that guarantee peace and order in the country and ensured his retention of power, as well as the appointment of an outspoken Russophobe as information minister, suggests that Kazakhstan may still present surprises.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT


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