The leader of Kazakhstan's opposition gave an exclusive interview to Charter97.org.
For many who do not follow the situation in Kazakhstan, the revolution was a complete surprise. However, one of the leaders of the Kazakhstan opposition has long been saying the change will occur in the country.
Mukhtar Ablyazov, leader of the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan opposition movement and former minister of energy, industry and trade, gave an exclusive interview to Charter97.org. He explained why people took to the streets:
- Protest potential was accumulating. People were outraged by skyrocketing prices and the corrupt regime, theft and so on. In authoritarian regimes, change comes unexpectedly. Absolutely for everyone. The Soviet Union collapsed, the revolution in Tunisia happened that way. In Iran, no one suspected the Shah would fall.
All forms of protest, the free press, and so on are suppressed in authoritarian regimes. The "nerve endings" are killed, so the regime cannot even say what or where it will "explode". This is a classic example of how a dictatorial state functions.
The growth of prices of LPG for the population was the occasion. The day after the first demonstrations, when people came out and demanded lower gas prices, several cities caught up with the protest and then spread across the country.
Thousands of protesters delivered political demands. People were no longer talking about lower gas prices, but the support of the Zhanaozen protesters. It's a small town of oil workers, who were openly shot by the regime in 2011 for peaceful protests.
The second important point - people in all the regions came out with a common demand as if it were a single organism. People demanded the resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev's regime.
It seems that there was no individualization, that one person, who seems to be not the president (he was the head of Security Council), should resign) the regime should resign. When we say "regime" then not only Nazarbayev should resign, but also nominal president Tokayev, who is acting like Medvedev did in Russia. Members of the government, parliament and so on, the whole regime had to step down.
People declared in the squares that they wanted a parliamentary republic. A parliamentary republic in our country does not imply a president. When there is social discontent, people come out and demand, so to speak, two kilos of potatoes. This time the protest was clearly defined: down with the Nazarbayev regime. It needed the common consciousness of the people. In this sense, the consciousness of our citizens has matured. Everyone understands we are guided by a criminal community robbing the country and stealing from the people. The demands were united - down with the regime of Nursultan Nazarbayev.
- As you mentioned, people initially took to the streets because of economic demands. What is the economic situation in Kazakhstan? How do ordinary people live?
- There is an economic concept - gross domestic income per capita. And if one relies on it, it is slightly less than in Russia, more than in any of the so-called CIS countries. But it doesn't say anything because citizens think they are poor or paupers anyway. After all, they don't get adequate pay for their work.
Our oil workers receive on average 300-500 dollars a month, while at similar enterprises in the world the average salary is around 10,000 dollars. Metalworkers in export companies get USD 500 while in other countries the average salary is USD 3-6 thousand.
Our people understand the reason for the injustice. Nursultan Nazarbayev and his henchmen own the whole country's economy. They pocket, through offshore companies, what they do not pay people, and then buy residences of 120 million dollars. The whole country knows this. In Switzerland, they have recently bought properties worth 120 million dollars, in England for a hundred million dollars. These are public officials who are the richest people in the world.
Injustice accumulated, people grew angry.
And the recent events, when prices for food and other goods were rising all over the world, the growth in our country was two or three times faster. It was clear that everything would "explode", and everything could have been a reason for that.
In Tunisia, a trader set himself on fire, and people took to the streets; in Kyiv - children and students were beaten up under Yanukovych. There can be many reasons; the reason is the social situation, including the political one.
- It has become known about the resignation of the country's government, Nazarbayev's resignation as head of the Security Council. Is the government making concessions or is this a ploy to get people off the streets?
- It's a ploy to blow off steam. Nazarbayev can change the government every hour in our country. There were some other concessions - gas prices became even lower than they were before the protests. Nazarbayev allegedly quit as head of the Security Council. But according to the Constitution, he holds the post for life. Today he resigned, and tomorrow morning he woke up and changed his mind. Laws do not work in a gangster state. Our country functions according to the concepts of Nursultan Nazarbayev. He is the head of a criminal gang, a thug. And that is why, the acting president acts according to his orders, playing the president.
- The situation is developing very dynamically. What could you say about the current situation? At what point is the protest?
- The protest is ongoing. People do not fall for these ploys. Some mass media will say that there is a conflict between Tokayev and Nazarbayev. There is no conflict between them. Tokayev, by his genetic design, is not even able to utter a word against "the owner of the country". He will execute those orders received from Nazarbayev's closest entourage.
- The Belarusian regime, in contrast to the Belarusian people, who sympathize with the Kazakhs, has solidarity with Tokayev. Why did Tokayev need the support of external forces? What does await the CSTO troops in Kazakhstan?
- Firstly, the authorities were strongly frightened. The CSTO will send about 3 thousand military personnel. What is three thousand when Kazakhstan has 100 thousand policemen, an army and so on? This is just their fear and attempts to cling to Putin. Putin benefits from it. He is building a prototype of the Soviet Union, trying to take control of all key political decisions in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries. He is systematically pursuing it so that all states go to his carpet to face the music. Therefore, the CSTO does not represent any serious power in this regard. The CSTO is mainly Russia; all other countries play a symbolic role.
In our country, these actions are taken as an occupation by Russia with all that it entails. If Putin acts this way, Kazakhstan will become as "friend" as Ukraine soon. The more he intervenes, the sooner we will get real independence, sovereignty, and the current regime will be overthrown.
If we talk about independence, only Nursultan Nazarbayev has independence from his people so far. We do not have real independence. It fell from the sky when the Soviet Union collapsed. The fight for real independence starts now, there will be a liberation war. One of the reasons that Russia will never rule us.
Also, this fight means the expulsion of Putin's representatives and the establishment of an independent democratic state. We will not follow the path of Belarus. It is impossible. We don't have union treaties; we are more autonomous and independent economically than Belarus. Belarus is strongly dependent on Russia. This is why many Kazakhstanis say bluntly: you'd better go away. We will fight for our independence.
- How can the police and the army of Kazakhstan behave? Can they take the side of the people?
- The army of Kazakhstan is a technical body. They are cogs. They have no position; they will do whatever one says. However, one should understand that the children of those people, against whom they can act, are serving in the army. It is not a fact that they will be shooting at people. Nazarbayev's so-called national guard will do that. They did it when they guarded Nazarbayev's residence.
When the protesters came to storm the residence of the former president, he was at the time trying to flee Kazakhstan. At first, rubber bullets were used against the protesters, but later snipers started shooting people with live ammunition. The exact number of victims is not known, but it was a mass killing.
That's why many people now call the current president a traitor to the nation and say bluntly - we will fight. If Russia doesn't want to have the same relationship with the Kazakh people as it has with the Ukrainian people it should leave Kazakhstan. It says it will not take part in the suppression of so-called riots. It will engage in the protection of Baikonur and other key objects. In reality, it is not. This is a kind of political act. The Russian Foreign Ministry has stated these protests are instigated by external forces.
Kazakhstani authorities are scared to say that it is America or Europe because that is where their assets are located. Authorities are afraid and will speak gibberish about some foreign bandit formations. But Russia says clearly that it is America and Europe; Solovyov has already stated about it.
They say Nazarbayev flew to Dubai now. But his departure doesn't mean anything. He travels for a long time, lives wherever he wants. He has a huge amount of property and real estate all over the world. That is why he is afraid. Tokayev is also afraid because he has many assets abroad too. They will never name these so-called external powers.
- How do you think events could unfold in Kazakhstan?
- Right now, the protests may be subdued for a while. But Kazakhstan has entered a new stage of development. I believe civil society, our citizens have won. Yes, with great sacrifice, but we won. People saw that the authorities were afraid. The so-called government resigned, Nazarbayev allegedly resigned. Protesters were demolishing his monuments. People have seen the government backs down and betrays its adherents, resigns them when people unite.
But even if the protests are suppressed now, society has seen its strength. For a long time, our citizens were intimidated. They didn't believe in their strength and said, "well, the Belarusians are great, and we are like that...". However, there will be a real fight for independence after that case. Our nation will raise its head, and various mechanisms will appear to unite and resist the regime. Now, everyone will understand that this regime has come to an end.