The May official holidays in Kazakhstan made the authorities get seriously edgy. Even though the May 1 protests were quickly suppressed by siloviki*, Akorda got scared that the protests would only get bigger on the May 9 celebration and, therefore, chose to go really big: the internet was blocked in the country starting from May 8 while, already in the morning of May 9, the police would baselessly arrest those suspected of an inclination to participate in some civic engagement.
However, if the May 1 and May 9 actions of the police, the National Security Committee and the Public Prosecution Office are standard for Kazakhstan and do not excite much interest, the blocking of the internet on a global basis (i.e. of not just individual social networks) is something new.
We believe the actions of the few protestors during the May celebrations did not pose any real threat for the authorities. Thus, as likely as not, Akorda simply jumped at an opportunity to try out (test) a new repressive instrument.
Now one can say with certainty that, in an event of some negative developments in the country, the authorities may not only completely shut down the mobile communication system but also block the internet so that their opponents would not be able to communicate among themselves and inform the world on current developments.
In our opinion, another symptomatic event that happened in Kazakhstan during the May celebrations was the fact that a woman holding a 7-month old baby was not simply detained by the police but interrogated for hours.
The thing is that unlawful and random arrests of the citizens (especially those protesting out of political motivation) have long been the norm in Kazakhstan and do not cause much surprise. But violence against a baby (is there any other word to describe this?) is something that has never been done before. Nothing precluded the policemen from establishing the mother’s identity and place of residence, let her go and question her later for she did not commit any criminal acts.
This event makes us notice one crucial symptom that has developed during recent years. We are talking about the profound moral decaying of both the Kazakh siloviki and the country’s entire state apparatus.
Meanwhile, this kind of decaying was one of the reasons why the grand-scale repressions in the USSR and the Hitler regime with its numerous civilian victims became possible. To this day, people wonder how the normal, law-abiding, responsible, hard-working and children-loving Germans could kill millions of people in the concentration camps without feeling any remorse.
The matter lies in the deep moral degeneration when, forced to become the obedient cogs in the totalitarian (authoritarian) political machines and to carry out the criminal orders, the citizens found a way out by segregating people into «us» and «them» by taking cues from their authorities. Therefore, all the rules written in the Bible and accepted in society were applicable only to «us». As for «them», anything goes.
Something similar, albeit in a less bloodthirsty fashion, is being repeated in Kazakhstan. The people who dare to demand their civic rights and the normal living conditions which Akorda does not want to and cannot provide automatically turn into «them» in the eyes of siloviki and officials. And the woman with a 7-month old child also falls into this category.
This deep moral decaying of the civil servants, including the employees of the law-enforcement agencies, overlaps with their professional degradation, grand-scale bribery and abuse of authority. As a result, Akorda, on one hand, has obtained a rather effective repressive instrument that can be used not only to suppress social protests and dissidents but for the purpose of the intra-elite fighting. On the other hand, it has widened the gap between itself and the citizens even more, intensified it via dividing the people into «us» and «them» which will, undoubtedly, backfire in the future.
Now then, since, contrary to the 20th century Germany and the USSR, the division into clans and groups on the «us-and-them» basis is exponentially stronger in the Kazakh society, the main risks for Kazakhstan, as likely as not, lie within the corridors of power itself.
Video on the protests in Nur-Sultan and Almaty from Currenttime.tv
*In the former USSR countries, a silovik (plural: siloviki) is a politician with a security service or military background. The term also describes employees of the law-enforcement/intelligence agencies.