The Andijan events in Uzbekistan, the “color revolution” in Kyrgyzstan and the presidential elections in Kazakhstan gave many reasons for all sorts of predictions. Now, it seems that calm has been restored, but isn't it a calm that happens before the storm?
A whole year has passed since the shocking events in Andijan, a few months that did not leave the front pages of the world press.
Recall that, according to the statements of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Uzbekistan, a total of 187 people died during the Andijan events, including one woman.
As political scientist Eduard Poletayev noted, “in Kazakhstan, the reaction of officials to these events was initially surprisingly lethargic. Unless some civil groups and political parties expressed their indignation. Even in the story of a refugee, Andijan human rights activist Lutfullo Shamsutdinov, the authorities chose to comply with international conventions than to hand over a refugee to a close neighbor. In this story, the last, as we know, was Kyrgyzstan, who was accused both of concealing refugees and of the fact that fighters allegedly underwent training on its territory. But recently, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in fact, in his speech supported Islam Karimov in the Andijan issue during his last visit to Tashkent. Nazarbayev’s political behavior, like most of the leaders of the post-Soviet states, suggests that they are unlikely to stand on ceremony with such manifestations in their homeland. Of course, the events in Andijan frightened the Kazakhstani political elite, but they also frightened the opponents of the regime no less, showing them that it was far from safe to hold mass actions. ”
The Andijan events reminded all the Central Asian republics of the medium term change of leadership, and made them think about the consequences of these changes. And Kazakhstan is no exception, despite the fact that the president was re-elected just recently. Under certain conditions, a change of leadership in all the republics of the region can take place almost simultaneously, which will inevitably cause serious transformations of the local political process. However, this is not the case. In each of these republics, there are a number of internal problems that can cause a severe crisis during the period of the transfer of power.
The weakest link in terms of possible revolutions are relatively soft authoritarian regimes in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. At the same time, paradoxically, the same Kazakhstan can be considered the first candidate for peaceful democratization, through reforms. The business here feels much more confident compared to other Central Asian countries. Gradually, the middle class emerges and grows stronger, and interethnic conflicts are rather latent.
Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that sooner or later, President Nazarbayev, tired of being in power, may allow the election of his successor in more or less fair elections. And it will be no later than 2012 (the next presidential election). And, most likely, Nazarbayev will leave earlier in order to quietly introduce a successor to the political process and give him time to prepare for the next presidential election. As the events of recent years have shown, elections can be too convenient for rivals of the authorities to organize any regular “color or flower revolution”. Especially when it comes to the transfer of power from the hands of any local authoritarian ruler. Therefore, Nazarbayev will most likely not delay with the transfer of power until the 2012 elections. At the same time, no one will undertake to guarantee that the current, indeed, fairly stable domestic political situation in Kazakhstan is insured against fluctuations and public discontent.
Elections held in December 2005 were absolutely calm, and became the triumph of Nazarbayev. In general, it can be said that in these elections there was no real opposition to the Kazakh president. This happened both because of the fairly high prestige of Nazarbayev, and as a result of the lack of real opposition.
Eduard Poletayev believes that the process of changing the ruling elites will occur and is already happening in different countries in different ways. It depends on the level of development of democracy and civil society. If, for example, for Turkmenistan the most realistic options are the natural death of Turkmenbashi or an effective assassination attempt on him, then in Kyrgyzstan the change took place relatively bloodless.
As for Kazakhstan, here, of course, both the society itself and the ruling circles are preparing for a change of sovereignty. But the Andijan events, obviously, modified the scenarios, minimizing the possibility of force.
It is unlikely that the Kazakh authorities will allow Andijan to repeat in his own country. Moreover, in Kazakhstan there are other social conditions that do not imply the occurrence of such large-scale actions of a spontaneous nature. Therefore, Kyrgyzstan, which is closer to Kazakhstan both geographically and ethnically, has to a large extent become an example for Kazakhstani authorities. Apparently, the March “revolution” in Kyrgyzstan, with the weak-willed reaction of Askar Akayev, convinced the Kazakh authorities of the need to use a power resource in the event of excessive opposition activity. The subsequent violent suppression of the Andijan uprising, became the second, but more “successful” demo of preserving the status quo.
In Kazakhstan, obviously, they are exploring the neighborhood experience and are actively exploring various options. For example, during the 2005 election campaign, all kinds of “horror films” were thrown in through the media, connected to a greater degree with the “Tulip Revolution” and to a lesser extent with Andijan. There are still a lot of blanks in the suitcases of Astana ideologues to preserve the current state of affairs.
But after Andijan, Bishkek and the election of the Kazakh president, politicians realized that it was impossible to do without inspiring the process of political modernization. This is understood in Kazakhstan, but skeptics believe that this process is, rather, declarative.
However, if we assess the prospects for a change of power in the country, it becomes clear that the opposition’s threat to the stability of Kazakhstan does not come from the opposition. It is highly likely that Nazarbayev’s departure will inevitably cause a very tough rivalry between large groups within the ruling elite and the redistribution of capital. For the time being, these groups show loyalty to the president, who has managed for many years to maintain a balance of interests between them. But, apparently, the time will come when they will come together in a fight in the struggle for power and the inheritance of Nazarbayev. And for someone this fight can be deadly. Competition can begin to escalate in the very next few years. Its public expression, most likely, can be observed already at the next elections to the Majilis (the lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament) in 2009, and, possibly, even earlier. Of course, the current government has created a sufficiently serious backlog of strength, but it is still possible to loosen the situation in Kazakhstan. 15-20 years of independence is not the time for which systems are created, unshakable for centuries. Moreover, in conditions of electoral democracy. Here one should soberly separate “PR” from reality. Especially the Kazakhstani elite itself, which is already beginning to believe in those myths that it itself created for internal and external use.