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Indigenous leaders call on nations in Russia to boycott crackdown on protesters in Kazakhstan

crackdown Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan. Photo: Valery Sharifulin (TASS)
Indigenous leaders call on nations in Russia to boycott crackdown on protesters in Kazakhstan

Tatar, Bashkir, Erzya and other indigenous leaders in Russia expressed solidarity with the people of Kazakhstan and called on their compatriots not to participate in the ongoing Kazakhstan crackdown, held with the participation of troops of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

Several leaders of the indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation have condemned the deployment of Russian troops in Kazakhstan. Recently, they issued a statement noting that the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation are in solidarity with the people of Kazakhstan and sent a copy of the document to Idel.Realii.

The statement was signed by Rafis Kashapov, co-founder of the Free Idel-Ural public movement; Ruslan Gabbasov, founder of the Bashkir National Political Centre; Syres Bolyaen, Erzya people; Ruslan Kantayev, chairman of the Finnish-Chechen cultural centre ‘Vainakh’; Magomed Mutsolgov, Ingush human rights activist and journalist; Fauzia Bayramova, chairperson of the Milli Mejlis of the Tatar people, chairperson of the Tatar National Independence Party ‘Ittifak’; Nafis Kashapov, representative of the public movement ‘Free Idel-Ural’ in Poland.

The document was also sent to the leaders of other indigenous peoples, so the number of signatories may expand.

“The patient and wise Kazakh people could bear the situation no more and were forced to protest in order to achieve social justice. These massive uprisings frightened the government and it faltered.” the statement read.

The signatories condemn the actions of the President of Kazakhstan.

“Presidential figurehead Kassym-Jormat Tokayev, who is a political ally of Nursultan Nazarbayev, called on the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to ‘help bring order to the country’. These words testify to the regime’s fear and unwillingness to listen to its people. Tokayev is ready to surrender the sovereignty of the Republic of Kazakhstan, but not his seat in government. He hopes to silence the Kazakhs with the help of Russian bullets,” wrote the signatories.

The signatories urge the sons and brothers of the indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation not to take part in the crackdown on the Kazakh people.

“The [Russian] empire has always used other enslaved nations to suppress the freedom of indigenous peoples. This is its essence. And now Tatars, Chechens, Buryats, Udmurts with Russian passports may become part of the intervention forces. We must not allow this to happen. It is shameful!”

The authors believe that the country’s fate should be determined by the people of Kazakhstan.

“Such issues as gas prices, government resignations, early elections, etc. are part of the internal affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Only Kazakhs can decide how to live in their own country.”

Moreover, the deployment of Russian troops in Kazakhstan will not solve internal problems.

“Whatever Mr. Tokayev may declare, the deployment of foreign troops in Kazakhstan will not help in any way. It is nothing more than a punitive action. The invaders will kill civilians in the name of the empire’s geopolitical interests. Then, one day, this same empire will send the National Guard of Russia, the FSB and the army to kill your parents, wives and children.”

The leaders also called on the conscripts and officers of the Russian Federation “to sabotage deployment to Kazakhstan under any pretext” and to side with the insurgents. They ask the Kazakhs to demand that the command staff, officers and soldiers of the armed forces pledge to defend the independence of the state from external aggression.

“Not our war”: leaders of Bashkir national movement call on countrymen to boycott Russia’s war against Ukraine

How the events unfolded

Protests erupted in Kazakhstan on January 2 after a twofold increase in prices of liquefied petroleum gas. Subsequently, the protesters began making political demands, including a return to the 1993 Constitution. The protests turned into violent clashes between protesters and security forces in most regions. In Almaty, opponents seized the local administration building, the presidential residence and the airport.

President Kassim-Jomart Tokayev first sent in special forces and the army, and then sought military assistance from the CSTO. A so-called “peacekeeping force” consisting of Russian, Belarusian and Armenian troops, headed by Russian general Andrei Serdyukov quickly moved into the country.

On January 6, several armoured personnel carriers and dozens of military personnel entered the main square of Almaty and gunfire was heard. Later, it was reported that the military withdrew from the central Republic Square.

In the evening of January 6, President Tokayev held a meeting of the Security Council of Kazakhstan. Earlier, he stated that he would be heading the Security Council, although this post was held for life by the former head of state Nursultan Nazarbayev. How and when the transfer of powers took place is unknown. At the meeting, Tokayev called the protesters “gangsters and terrorists” and ordered the army and law enforcement units to shoot at them. He categorically rejected the West’s offer of peace talks

“We know very well that they’re looting and rampaging in Almaty and other cities. They seize infrastructure and, most importantly, the premises stocked with small arms located. They’re shooting at our cadets. There’s been a lot of fighting near Almaty involving the airborne units of the Ministry of Defense,” the president said.

In addition, Tokayev issued a decree, whereby Karim Massimov, a longtime associate of Nazarbayev, was relieved of his post as chairman of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan. He was replaced by Ermek Sagimbayev, who worked as head of the State Security Service. According to the law, the president’s approval of appointments of the chairman of the National Security Committee KNB and some other departments falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Senate, writes Azattyk.

On January 8, the President of Kazakhstan announced a day of mourning for the people killed in the protests. According to the latest data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan, 26 protesters and 18 law enforcement officers were killed in clashes. Reportedly, 4,404 people were detained as of January 8.

After days of violent anti-government protests, the situation in most Kazakh cities appears to have stabilized, although explosions and sporadic gunfire can be heard in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty.

President Tokayev has also proposed to hold a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Discussions were held with Russian President Putin, self-proclaimed President of Belarus Lukashenka and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Earlier, leaders of the Bashkir national movement called upon their countrymen to boycott Russia’s war against Ukraine.
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