Jan 9, 2022
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On the possible impact of unrest in Kazakhstan on the processes of Eurasian integration

The protesters against the rise in gas prices and the thugs are different people and different social groups.

The new year 2022 began in Kazakhstan with turbulent events. On January 1, the republic raised the price of liquefied gas, which is used to fill most of the vehicles in western Kazakhstan, and the very next day, street protests began in the Mangistau region.

The price increase was sensitive, and soon the protesters were joined by residents of other regions, which unexpectedly escalated into attacks on administrative offices in Almaty, Nur-Sultan and other large cities of the republic. The Prosecutor’s Office of Kazakhstan opened criminal cases in connection with the committed acts of vandalism, terrorism and riots. Participants in the riots could face from eight years to life imprisonment with deprivation of citizenship. According to the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan, the total amount of damage from the riots has already exceeded $ 200 million.

The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, said that there were gangs trained abroad in the republic, and called what was happening as an undermining of the integrity of the state and an attack on citizens. In any case, residents who peacefully protested against the rise in gas prices and those who organize pogroms are completely different people. The protests that began on January 2 in Zhaneozen in the west of the republic were quickly, skillfully and, I must say, effectively (apparently, the soil was ready) used the forces of destruction. But who exactly organized these forces remains to be understood.

In response to the riots, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, on the morning of January 5, 2022, dismissed the government and headed the Security Council of the Republic, removing the first head of state, Nursultan Nazarbayev, from this post. At the first meeting of the Security Council under his leadership, Tokayev described the situation in Kazakhstan as undermining the integrity of the state and said that he had asked the CSTO for help “in overcoming the terrorist threat.” The CSTO Collective Security Council decided to send collective peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan to normalize the situation in the country. Residents of Kazakhstan reacted calmly to the arrival of military personnel from four CSTO member states in the republic.

On January 7, President Tokayev promised that all terrorists – those who arrived from abroad, did not lay down their arms and continue to resist – would be destroyed. At the same time, he noted that all the demands of citizens, expressed in the forms of peaceful protest, were heard and the new government would take appropriate measures.

How are the events in Kazakhstan (and they, we emphasize, began literally the next day after Kazakhstan left the post of the chairman country in the governing bodies of the EAEU – the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council and the Eurasian Economic Commission, which the representatives of the Republic of Kazakhstan held on throughout 2021) can affect the development of integration processes in the post-Soviet space?

First of all, naturally, there may be changes in the composition of the governing bodies of the EAEU, in particular, in the Council and the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission. In the EEC Council, the current representative of Kazakhstan, acting First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic Alikhan Smailov (who in 2021 headed the EEC Council), after the formation of the new government of Kazakhstan, he can be replaced by the newly appointed First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, as well as two representatives of the republic in the EEC Board – Ruslan Beketayev – Member of the Board (Minister) for Economics and Financial Policy of the EEC and Arman Shakkaliev – Member of the Board (Minister) for Competition and Antimonopoly Regulation of the EEC.

As for the main areas of activity of the Eurasian Economic Union, there may be some slowdown in the practical implementation of the goals and objectives defined in the Strategy-2025 – riots of such force as they erupted in Kazakhstan, inevitably leave a mark. However, in general, specialists do not expect particularly strong failures in joint work in accordance with the approved development plans, there should not be such failures.

It is most likely that, given the role of Kazakhstan in the formation of common (single) markets for oil, oil products and natural gas of the EAEU, adjustments can be made in the timing of their launch into common use.

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