On Purging the Information Field

The persecution of civil activists — the bloggers — has been one of the most notable recent events in Kazakhstan. We, personally, have no doubt that, regardless of the individual reasons and the content of the charges, all these persecutions are a part of a single special op on imposing the «order» on the information space of the country.

It is unlikely that these actions will help Akorda and the Library to bring down the wave of the protest sentiment, but, today, they are incapable of attempting anything else in principle. Simply because the authoritarian system and the «super-presidential» vertical do not possess either effective propaganda «machine» or an active support of at least a part of the society.

So, to wage a fight in the information space under these conditions, the authorities have to use primarily hackers and bots since the domination of the state in the printed and digital media means little in the age of the Internet and social networks. So, not surprisingly, the authorities are always loosing this fight after all.

By the looks of it, Akorda and the Library have decided that the time has come to «put down» the civil activists — the bloggers. And we strongly suspect that there have been no disagreements between the two centres of power in re the necessity to conduct this act of intimidation. The disputes could only had to do with who exactly should be made a scapegoat.

As a result, several people each of whom represents a certain strata of the civil activism have found themselves in the line of fire. Note that all of them have been operating in the information field separately; their paths have only crossed regarding some individual events and newsworthy occurrences.

In other words, this is the way Akorda and the Library are warning the citizens that their patience is running out, that the citizens should hold their tongues and be less active on social media.

Obviously, as per usual in Kazakhstan, when making decisions on the severity of the punishment, the authorities including the courts and law-enforcers, first of all, will be looking at the personae of the accused and, second of all, at how the latter carry themselves. Those who plead guilty thus confirming the rightness of the state or those who have protection in the corridors of power will be punished pro forma. Whereas those who will refuse to surrender or those without influential protectors will get it to the fullest.

We are not going to forecast how the Kazakh court (the most manageable court in the world)* will punish the civil activists — the bloggers that have ended up under the pressing engine, but we do allow for the possibility that some of them will not even see the defendant’s bench (while this article was being written, it happened with Arman Shurayev). Whereas the others will go into the battle against the authorities that, in thirty years or so, will be regarded as a precursor of the future revolution.

Be as it may, here we clearly have a curious phenomenon of the age of the global informatization when the protest activities of the citizens are massively leaving the streets and entering the Internet-space where they become more controllable and manageable by the authorities, in other words, less dangerous (albeit, simultaneously, more brazen and less easily registrable).

With that, however, the high speed of the information distribution in the country calculated in minutes and hours; the information that is capable of causing an emotional reaction of not just dozens of people but tens of thousands of people at the same time and in the same place is drastically rising the risk that the masses will suddenly «shoot off» to the streets and start acting.

Under these conditions, the authoritarian political systems and the «super-presidential» verticals get cornered for they have nothing to set off against their critics except physical and judicial violence. Therefore, they don’t really have much choice except to decide how massive the scale of the repressions should be and who should be arrested first.

And then, they will launch the mechanism that has been used throughout the history of the country many times — it is the fight between a person and the soulless state protecting the interests and privileges of the selected few. The only good thing is that the Stalin-style repressions cannot take place in modern Kazakhstan when the verdict of the courts and the «troikas» against «the enemies of the people» were carried out immediately via a headshot.

*Translator’s note: it is a play on a joke from famous Soviet comedy «Watch for Vehicles» («Beregis’ avtomobilya») when a crooked character cries at the trial «Long lives the Soviet court, the most compassionate court in the world!» — which is also a veiled mockery on the part of the movie-makers.


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