Protests in Kazakhstan can be suppressed by force – expert

On November 20, early presidential elections will be held in Kazakhstan. Political parties and public organizations nominated 12 candidates. Not all of them passed the selection procedure of the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan. The Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta published an article about the situation in Kazakhstan on the eve of an important political event in the country.

On October 17, the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan registered Zhiguli Dairabayev as a presidential candidate. He is the first of 11 contenders who want to compete for the main state post to receive a certificate and can start campaigning.

The favorite of the elections, the incumbent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, is already actively working both in the international arena and within the country. The day before, he made changes to the military doctrine of Kazakhstan. This is especially true in the pre-election period and the growing foreign policy turbulence.

Tokayev’s opponents in the early presidential elections are little known to the general public, people who did not participate in politics, and they were chosen only as sparring partners.

After the January events in the country, when the threat of removal hung over him, President Tokayev moved the election date two years ahead, experts say, to frustrate plans for a possible consolidation of the domestic political opposition and external players. Nevertheless, this move does not guarantee serene elections, which will be held in conditions of unprecedented turbulence in world politics and the constant growth of socio-economic tension caused by Western sanctions and problems of global logistics, the portal writes.

Political scientist, director of regional programs of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies Yuri Solozobov believes that everything is going according to plan.

“The preliminary nomination of candidates has taken place. Tokayev is a candidate with no alternative. After the January events, he has the highest political rating not just among politicians, but among government institutions. The president is more than parliament, he has great trust, and it remains. Plus, Tokayev used his best qualities professional diplomat – he organized a series of impressive international support, perhaps unprecedented in the history of Kazakhstan,” Solozobov said in an interview with newspapers.

First of all, these are visits of a number of heads of state, including Russia and China, summits – CICA, the CIS and Central Asia – Russia. According to the political scientist, by this Tokayev secured the international legitimization of the upcoming elections.

“From the point of view of domestic political opponents, there is actually no alternative to him. It was supposed to nominate heavyweights from the old guard. But none of them expressed a desire to participate in the elections for various reasons.

As for the so-called “football team” of 12 candidates, for 11 of them the calculation is simple – “if we don’t run, we’ll get warm.” At the very least, these people will become famous and, perhaps, their future careers will be successful, especially given the Kazakh election cycle. The next elections will be for parliament. This is a good reason to express yourself,” Solozobov said.

Meanwhile, while Tokayev is busy with international events, social problems are accumulating in the country, and public discontent is growing. The government is aware of this, of course. In particular, the last Message of Tokayev was devoted to socio-economic problems.

But how the president’s instructions will be carried out is a question that has no answer. As Solozobov noted, in order to be re-elected in November, there will be enough resources. “Few people know how events will develop further on the world stage and in the economy. They say that there will be a stronger crisis than 2008, so the main thing is to have time to be re-elected. It may be cynical, but politics is the art of the possible,” the political scientist emphasized.

In his opinion, the authorities have enough strength and money to resolve the situation manually. To solve systemic problems, it is necessary to change both economic approaches and the personnel deck.

Anticipating possible internal protests, Kazakhstan made changes to the country’s military doctrine. One of the points says that internal protests can be suppressed, including by military means. The document notes that in an emergency situation and internal conflicts, the forces of the National Guard can be used.

This, apparently, is a reaction to the January events, after which demands began to be heard to withdraw from the CSTO. Dmitry Medvedev’s post on the fate of Northern Kazakhstan this summer made a lot of noise. And they still do not forget about it, especially considering that Astana did not recognize the annexation of new territories to Russia, the newspaper writes.

Tokayev, feeling pressure from society, demonstrates his readiness to strengthen the defense capability of Kazakhstan, the ability to purchase weapons not only from Russia, but also from other countries. In particular, an agreement was signed with Turkey on the establishment of joint military-industrial complex enterprises.

Alexander Vorobyov, head of the Center for Public Diplomacy and World Policy Analysis, researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that the renewal of the military doctrine of Kazakhstan was caused by serious changes that have occurred both in world politics, which has significantly militarized in recent years, and in approaches to national defense and conduct of hostilities.

“The last time the military doctrine of Kazakhstan was updated in 2017. By the standards of the current dynamically changing reality, this is quite a long time. Since then, the role of cybersecurity has increased significantly, because the management of critical infrastructure is increasingly carried out using information systems. The role of the information component has also increased in general.Information-psychological operations can be used to destabilize and discredit a potential adversary.We can say that by paying more attention to this area, Kazakhstan keeps pace with the times.For example, within the framework of the SCO, Russia and China are also promoting the strengthening of cooperation between members of the organization on data issues,” Vorobyov said.

In his opinion, other aspects of the doctrine – increasing the coordination of troops, improving logistics and the creation of territorial defense – also go in the spirit with time and should objectively increase the effectiveness of the troops and, as a result, the security of the state.

The expert believes that the renewal of the military doctrine of Kazakhstan is of an objective nature and such a step in itself is not directed against any of the neighboring states. “However, the timing of changes to the doctrine may indicate that the political elite of Kazakhstan and society are worried about the increased uncertainty in international relations and the crisis of the global security system.

At the same time, it is very likely that the change in doctrine is connected not only with the conflict over Ukraine, but also with other events: the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, tensions over Taiwan, as well as events within Kazakhstan itself – the January 2022 protests. All these circumstances have strengthened the demand of the Kazakh society to increase the state’s defense capability,” Vorobyov said.

Source: Nezavisimaya gazeta,

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Oct. 18, 2022