In addition, the pandemic has noticeably hit the already low standard of living. Many have lost their jobs, others live paycheck to paycheck, take loans that are unable to repay. In the densely populated (and, therefore, with a higher unemployment rate) south of the country, residents on average receive $ 300 per month, oil workers in western Kazakhstan receive an average of $ 500-600 per month, but this difference is “eaten up” by high prices.
COVID-19 has reset the country’s 30 years of development. Even people who were loyal to the authorities realized that the epidemic had pulled all the skeletons out of the closets and showed that there was nothing in the country. There is no production of its own – Kazakhstan literally imports everything, the health care system is absolutely incompetent and the state administration system is ineffective. Only prices and levels of corruption are going up.
All these factors only increase people’s fatigue from the thirty-year rule of the first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Although he put Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev in the presidency, he still continues to control Kazakhstan. The people are tired of him, tired of his “family”, of the oligarchic economy, tired of promises and constant beautiful phrases about the fact that the country will soon be included in the list of developed countries of the world. People are tired of his foreign policy “show-off”, numerous statements about the importance of Kazakhstan in the world. People just want to live with dignity – so that their children have a future in Kazakhstan.
It would seem that with such a state of affairs, one could easily predict the reaction of the population to a sharp rise in gas prices. But the authorities never had clear information about the level of public discontent. This is due to the fact that under Nazarbayev, official statistics were constantly distorted – to such an extent that well-known economists even had to ask the Prime Minister to stop embellishing the numbers, because it is impossible to do effective analytics. The authorities also rudely and unceremoniously distorted the statistics on the coronavirus.
How else to define discontent? Through elections. But in Kazakhstan, as in Russia, all elections were held as a political spectacle: the main pro-presidential party, Nur Otan, always won. And no one, including the party itself, knows what the real percentage of its support is. The authorities do not know their society, and therefore every rally gives it a shock. The authorities see the intrigues of external forces behind any protests, and the responsibility for them, as a rule, is shifted to the former banker who fled abroad, Mukhtar Ablyazov. And today Tokayev speaks about the intervention of some “external forces”, and not about internal problems.
First of all, the protesters chanted “Old man, go away.” And Nazarbayev really announced his resignation from the position of the chairman of the Security Council. But this does not mean at all that the Nazarbayev era, as various experts managed to say, is over. It will end only when he, as the first president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, really leaves the political scene. Nazarbayev created this system, including all the oligarchs and the nomenklatura apparatus, and he is not going to weaken the reins for now. It was he who did not allow the government to be dismissed until the last, despite the fact that it showed complete incapacity during the pandemic and even Tokayev several times stated that he was dissatisfied with the work of the cabinet.