Craig Murray: What Kazakhstan Isn’t

One thing Kazakhstan isn’t is known in the United States, where 99.99 percent couldn’t find it on a map. It is, however, because of its location, size, and resources, an important country. From Craig Murray at

As in all systems without democratic accountability or effective legal impunity for the elite, frustration and resentment among the general population has built naturally. 

Demonstrators march on the central square of Aktobe, Kazakhstan, on Jan. 4. (Esetok, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Knowledge of Kazakhstan in the West is extremely slim, particularly among western media, and many responses to events there have been wildly off-beam.

The narrative on the right is that Putin is looking to annex Kazakhstan, or at least the majority ethnic Russian areas in the north. This is utter nonsense.

The narrative on the left is that the CIA is attempting to instigate another color revolution and put a puppet regime into Nur-Sultan (as the capital is called this week). This also is utter nonsense.

The lack of intellectual flexibility among Western commentators entrapped in the confines of their own culture wars is a well-established feature of modern political society. Distorting a picture into this frame is not so easily detectable where the public have no idea what the picture normally looks like, as with Kazakhstan.

When you jump into a taxi in Kazakhstan, getting your suitcase into the boot is often problematic as it will be already full with a large LPG canister. Roof racks are big in Kazakhstan. Most Kazakh vehicles run on LPG, which has traditionally been a subsidized product of the nation’s massive oil and gas industry.

Fuel price rises have become, worldwide, a particular trigger of public discontent. The origins of the Yellow Vests movement in France lay in fuel price rises before spreading to other areas of popular grievance. The legacy of fuel protests in the U.K. have led for years cowardly politicians to submit to annual real reductions in the rate of fuel duty, despite climate change concerns.

The current political crisis in Kazakhstan was spiked by moves to deregulate the LPG market and end subsidy, which led to sharp price increases. These brought people onto the streets. The government quickly backed down and tried to reinstate price controls but not producer subsidies; that would have led gas stations to sell at a loss. The result was fuel shortages that just made protest worse.

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