It has been just over a month since a sudden and daring attack took place in the city of Taraz (12.11.2011, Southern Kazakhstan), when sensational news spread all over the world concerning the former Central Asian oasis of serenity: on 16.12.2011, on the Day of Independence in Kazakhstan, military forces violently suppressed the demonstrations of unarmed strikers from the oil industry and civilians in the town of Zhanaozen in Western Kazakhstan.
The international community reacted to these events forthwith:
1) The very next day, December 17, the UN Committee on Human Rights expressed its concern over the death of 10 people resulting from the riots in Kazakhstan’s town of Zhanaozen.
2) The EU High Representative for foreign policy, Catherine Ashton, in her statement emphasized a hope that “the authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan shall promptly conduct an investigation into these events, and that through a social dialogue a peaceful solution will be found to the problems faced by the striking oil workers”.
3) December 19, the U.S. response also comprised a decisive appeal to the Government of Kazakhstan “to urgently and fully restore all types of means of communications across the country,” and “to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the causes which led to the violence. All those who have committed crimes must be punished in accordance with international standards”, – said Victoria Nuland, U.S. State Department spokesman.
4) December 21, 47 deputies of the European Parliament wrote an open letter to the President of Kazakhstan, in which they expressed their condemnation of the law enforcement agencies in Zhanaozen, and the international rating agency Standard & Poor’s, reported that it will review the previously approved BBB + credit rating, if the situation continues to worsen.
Moreover, the events in Zhanaozen were reminiscent of the start of revolutionary events in North Africa and the Middle East late 2010 – early 2011, again raising the debate about how likely we are to see an “Arab spring” scenario in Kazakhstan.
In this newsletter we will take an in-depth look at the current situation in Kazakhstan, in order to compare it with what was observed shortly before the events of the “Arab spring” in other countries and to answer the question: “Is Kazakhstan awaiting its Arab spring?”