Nazarbayev stepped down from chair of the security council as part of the entire government either being fired or resigning. France 24 is saying his family may have fled the country. Officially the unrest is due to protests over recent fuel price hikes, but the unrest is throughout the country rather than just in the west where fuel prices really matter. Nazarbayev has not only been the dictator of Kazakhstan since the fall of the USSR, but his family has been seizing control of more and more economic sectors beyond oil and gas. The LPG fuel hike may have just been a convenient catalysts for these protests.
Tokayev, the current president and long time protege of Nazarbayev, declared a national emergency and is seeking help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-backed security alliance, for help quelling the protests that he said were led by terrorists and outside financially motivated conspirators. This is pretty much how the WTO was used throughout its existence. I’m also sure Putin, Tokayev and Nazarbayev are thinking of the Maidan Revolution in this regard… or the Prague Spring.
An interesting aspect in this saga concerns the shutdown of the Kazahk internet. Kazahkstan has become a major destination for bitcoin miners, especially all those miners recently expelled from China. On Tokayev’s orders, the largest telecom provider shuttered the internet to interrupt communications among the opposition’s ranks, but this led to something else. “When the web goes down, miners can’t communicate with the Bitcoin network. The “hash rate,” the random codes that win fresh awards of Bitcoin, collapses. A few hours into the outage, Larry Cermak of the crypto news and research site The Block tweeted that a full 12% of Bitcoin’s worldwide computational power had vanished. His data showed sharp declines for a number of producers with operations in Kazakhstan. The hash rates for many cryptocurrencies fell between 12% and 16%” in a matter of hours. It may not mean much in the long run, but it does show what a haven Kazahkstan has become for these currencies.
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