The author has produced a number of articles regarding recent happenings in Kazakhstan, yet now that CSTO forces have brought the riots under control, western governments and their media have got the knives out, trying to bleed the situation for everything it is worth. In response to this, Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made a number of comments, as well as writing an article covering how she sees the West manipulating a matter which does not concern it. A mechanical translation of that appears as a footnote along with a link to the original post in Russian. This article will look at both western and eastern comments, and then discuss what’s really going on.
Capitol vs. Capital.
We all remember a ragtag army of about 2500 Americans turning up at the Capitol and causing mayhem. Apparently 5 people died as a result
Of those 5, 1 was shot, one OD’d and 3 died of natural causes. Four police officers who were in attendance later committed suicide. The western media went into a frenzy, claiming this to be Trump attempting to start a war, an insult to democracy and generally not how civilized nations behave themselves.
If we look at how events have unfolded this week in Kazakhstan, several hundred extremely well equipped and coordinated individuals, most who had only recently arrived from overseas turned up and went on the rampage. Apart from using the flimsiest of pretexts to start disturbances, they then went berserk, torching, raiding and destroying everything in sight. This would not have even been even remotely possible were it not for the complicity of many corrupt high-level officials, many of these having left promptly thereafter on private jets. If that wasn’t bad enough, the savages on the street then started beheading some of the police officers they had shot. The result? The western world has immediately called for the government in Nur-Sultan to respect democratic rights and criticize the lawful deployment of CSTO assets to Kazakhstan. Russia has obviously made up the greater part of this force, yet in spite of illegal US occupations of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, Antony Blinken said that ‘one lesson of recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.’ Just as in Syria, Kazakhstan has legitimately invited the CSTO and therefore Russia, yet rather than use the facts in front of it, the western world uses every event as a means of point-scoring. The West takes deep offense when tribal garb is worn in the Capitol, yet should people be running around lopping heads off, that’s all in the name of democracy.
Words as Weapons.
Antony Blinken this week stated that ‘One lesson of recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.’
This was not lost on the Russian Foreign Affairs spokeswoman who replied back on Telegram:
‘Today, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, in a typical boorish manner, joked about the tragic events in Kazakhstan. The absolutely legitimate response of the CSTO to the call of the leadership of Kazakhstan to assist in ensuring security (which, by the way, the UN Security Council has already been notified of) was accompanied by the following snide remark by the head of the American Foreign Ministry: ‘One lesson from past history: when Russians are in your house, it can be difficult to force them to leave. If Anthony Blinken loves history lessons so much, then let him keep in mind the following: When there are Americans in your house, it can be difficult to stay alive, not to be robbed or raped.Only this is taught to us not by the recent past, but by all 300 years of American statehood. Indians of the North American continent, Koreans, Vietnamese, Iraqis, Panamanians, Yugoslavs, Libyans, Syrians and many other unfortunate people who were unlucky enough to see these uninvited guests at home will tell a lot about this.’
That a senior statesperson on either side of the Atlantic say this even a couple of years ago was unthinkable, yet persistent harrying by a US ever more desperate to use events to its advantage has caused previously diplomatic exchanges to become barbs today.
We then move on to Jen Psaki who is as much a Russophobe as anyone in DC.
She said that ‘The United States has questions about the legality of Kazakhstan’s request to deploy CSTO forces in the country.’ If nothing else, this embodies the attitude held by so many in the US that Washington should be running the rest of the world.
Not to be outdone however, Mrs Zakharova replied that
‘Everyone is used to the fact that some representatives of Washington do not understand everything, passing it off as an American position.’
In Brussels, the EU has also had its bit to say when Josep Borrell expressed serious concern about the events in Kazakhstan and that the CSTO assistance ‘evokes memories of situations that should be avoided.’ That EU member states have been playing host to the US Reich for decades as well as them being involved elsewhere round the globe apparently seems to be of little relevance.
Again a retort came back, replying that
‘As they say, twice a day and a broken clock shows the correct time. Borrell is right: rampant extremism should be avoided and it should be remembered.’
With the heckling over, now we have to look at some very important points that say far more than either the diplomats or in fact the actions that have taken place over the last week.
From War to PR Battle.
Whilst not dominating western headlines, happenings in Central Asia have certainly been covered by the western media over the last week. These have centered on the protesters allegedly fighting for what’s right and western powers accusing Nur-Sultan of a lack of democratic process. The videos have shown the damage done, yet have failed to document the violence that the rioters have shown from the outset. Not only that, there has been no real effort made to explain some very simple facts. Russia is not Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan is not under Russian rule and that the Soviet Union has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any of this. The average western reader is unfortunately still under the impression that there is a Soviet Union out there somewhere run by some guy called Putin who lives in a multi-trillion dollar villa eating caviar whilst the Soviet people live in tin huts and queue for food. The sum game of this is that the media has attempted to make out that some genuinely aggrieved people were holding peaceful protests against their nasty pseudo-Russian government until the real Russian government stepped in with big guns and sticks. Whilst Telegram has been awash with videos of what really went on, audiences in the West have only been given half of a very carefully scripted story. Those videos have shown the true horrors of the riots, amongst them, packs of very well organized and equipped terrorists smashing up the offices and studios of every media outlet they could find, terrorizing the staff into the bargain. Other people have been shot, burnt and otherwise affected, yet neither publisher nor president in the West has made mention of this. Furthermore, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), which is supposed to monitor events such as this has not made any comment whatsoever. In short, the western establishment has played a week of Russian Roulette in Central Asia for all it’s worth.
Decision Over Diplomacy.
The first and most important point is that the relationship between Moscow and Washington is more strained than ever before. The level to which the exchanges have descended has already been stated, yet nearly a decade of Washington’s blockheadedness means that constructive dialogue is now near-impossible. A succession of crass US decisions followed by even worse words mean that not only does DC act improperly, it makes no excuses for its actions. Most other nations follow protocols in both word and deed, yet America and a small number of its allies have over recent years exchanged statesmanship for brinksmanship, there being no way whatsoever to reason with them.
An Engineered Situation.
Another problem is the events themselves. Whilst Nur-Sultan may (or not) have been caught off-guard, Russia most certainly knew what was going to happen. In all probability so did Washington, and whilst Turkey’s fingerprints are all over the whole affair, the timing of these riots is just too convenient. A mere 10 days before Putin and Biden are due to meet all hell is made break loose, everyone knowing that the CSTO will eventually be involved sooner or later. This however is where Uncle Sam’s plans may have gone awry. If the CSTO and therefore Russian assets had gone in and there was a catastrophe, this would give the West a huge PR boost and put Putin to a degree on the back foot regarding the Donbass. The only thing Russia wants less than one war is two, therefore this happening so soon before the summit could play to DC’s advantage.
There is a fly in the ointment however. Russia was exceptionally well prepared, mobilized without a hitch and as part of the CSTO structure went into Kazakhstan and did what it had to in very short order indeed. Rather than this being a half-hearted fiasco akin to those seen in the early stages of the war in Chechnya, this went like clockwork. Put simply, today’s Russian armed forces can mobilize huge and very capable resources in a very short timeframe, getting done whatever it needs to.
The Donbass Issue.
As mentioned, the Kazakhstan situation could well have been triggered to give the US what it saw as an advantage during the Geneva Summit. As things have happened though, Russia has come up with the goods and where the West thought that it would gain the edge, Moscow’s actions have actually cut Biden’s options right back. NATO has been barking about a Russian buildup on the Ukrainian border for years, yet if Russia can act as decisively as this with so little preparation, a well-planned incursion into the Donbass would be child’s play in comparison. Setting Kazakhstan up as a straw man has ended meaning that America is clutching at straws.
It is now obvious that whilst there is so little to say regarding the matters in Geneva, there’s even less to be said if Russia is the only adult in the room. Foreign players, whoever they may be, assisted by many officials in Kazakhstan ensured that Russia had to be involved as part of the CSTO coalition, yet even with the huge push given to it by the media, the very thing that was supposed to be Moscow’s undoing has done it a huge favor. Whilst insults fly to and fro from East to West and back again, Russia having Kazakhstan’s back has shown that Russia is back as a global superpower. Whether a fading West is going to back down remains to be seen, yet should it get Putin’s back up, it will be back to the drawing board for Washington’s Drang nach Osten…
There is one particularly remarkable detail in the large mosaic of events taking place in Kazakhstan. This is an overwhelming degree of aggression on the part of participants in street riots towards journalists and the media working there. Reports of attacks on media employees and pogroms in editorial offices are received in the mode of front-line reports. It is significant that the attacks are clearly targeted. Obviously, in order to make access to an objective picture of the rampant “purely peaceful protest” as difficult as possible. And also to intimidate journalists, and others and turn them off from active information activities.
Here are just a few examples. On January 5, in Alma-Ata, a group of unknown persons attacked the office of the Kazakhstan branch of the Mir TV and radio company, which, let me remind you, has the status of an interstate and celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year.
The details of the raid are truly shocking. There were about 500 criminals. They were armed with axes and took an autogen with them. Everyone knows that peaceful demonstrators always take autogens, Molotov cocktails and axes with them. These knew where they were going, and they were definitely not peaceful.
First, the bars on the windows were cut off. They smashed everything in their path: they turned out batteries (so that it was impossible to work in cold rooms), destroyed, literally chopped up workplaces, destroyed satellite hardware, all television equipment. A curious detail is that the criminals had trunk radios with them, obviously realizing that the connection could be turned off. The conclusion suggests itself: the attackers worked according to plan, were well prepared and acted in an organized manner.
There are other details. The rioters damaged the heating system – water flooded all the rooms, including the hardware. The studio and assembly stations were damaged. Later, the editorial office was set on fire – everything burned out. There is nothing left of the representative office of the international TV and radio company “Mir” in Alma-Ata. Along the way, the offices of the TV channels “Kazakhstan”, “Khabar”, “Eurasia”, CPC, and the Sputnik Kazakhstan news agency were actually destroyed. At the time of the attack on the editorial office, employees of the Mir TV channel were in the office: journalists, producers, cameramen, engineers. They were locked in the building for a while. With difficulty, but they still managed to be evacuated. Everyone is alive and well.
The correspondent of Sputnik was a little less lucky. The protesters held him for an hour until he managed to break free and escape. An employee of the Kazakhstan TV channel also suffered at the hands of the rioters.
And here is the most interesting thing. Neither the OSCE, nor any international human rights organization – no one even asked about the fate of the journalists of Mir and other media, let alone any real help. No one even thought to comment on this cave vandalism. The very next day, on the evening of January 6, in the center of Alma-Ata, a film crew of the Almaty TV channel came under fire, which was heading to the city administration to shoot a video message of akim (head) of the city B.Sagintayev. As a result, the driver M.Bazarbayev was killed, the operator was injured.
In a word, there is a blatant situation with violations of the rights of journalists, numerous encroachments on their health and life, the creation of obstacles for them to fulfill their professional duty to cover socially significant events during the crisis period.
And where is the clear reaction from international human rights institutions? Where is an adequate assessment of the OSCE, first of all its representative on freedom of the media? Ms. T. Ribeiro posted as many as 2 tweets. One of them condemns the attack with the use of firearms on the son of the editor of the newspaper “Saryagash info” A.Batyrbekov. In another, condolences are expressed to the family of the aforementioned murdered employee of the Almaty TV channel. Not a word about the responsibility of the murderers.
Excuse me, is that all? Everything you could see from Vienna? Everything that seemed worthy of a reaction there? Is this how a balanced and appropriate assessment of the scale of violations should look, as Western partners like to say, a “proportional” reaction on the part of an international official authorized for this?
Do you think anyone from the office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media called the Mir TV and Radio company? From Vienna, from the Organization’s representative office in Nur-Sultan? No, of course not. But if they had called, for example, the chairman of the MTRK “Mir” R. Batyrshin, they would have learned a lot of interesting things. And shocking.
Do we understand correctly: in order for Ms. Ribeiro to fork out for a tweet, a journalist must die? The question arises of itself, why do we, the member countries of the Organization, including Kazakhstan, allocate millions of dollars to the OSCE budget, including for the needs of “protecting freedom of speech and journalists”, if this organization does not do anything like this at a critical moment for journalists in Kazakhstan?
The question is not only about money. States have entrusted institutions such as the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media with the right to make objective and impartial value judgments on the state of affairs in the sphere they oversee in order to contribute to the desire of countries to ensure the highest level of democracy. Keywords – objective and impartial. Here, neither one nor the other is, unfortunately, not even visible in outline. Some kind of blocking of the site caused hysteria among the OSCE representatives, paragraphs in the reports were devoted to it. And when editorial offices are smashed, set on fire and flooded at the same time, correspondents are captured and held, force is applied to them – there is no reaction. But on one of the many dates to commemorate the freedom of the media, the OSCE Special Representative will hold a round table, distribute brochures with pictures and distribute flash drives with the organization’s symbols.
Such disregard of their direct duties, dysfunction and unprofessionalism are fraught with the saddest consequences. They not only increasingly undermine the authority of the OSCE and its executive structures, but may well be perceived by rioters and looters as the tacit consent of the “international community” with the atrocities committed against the media and journalists. If they don’t criticize, then you can.
And more. We have constantly heard from the OSCE about their innovative concept of “quiet diplomacy”, designed not at the microphone, but in the working process to solve complex issues of protecting journalists and freedom of speech. It is used, however, very selectively. I will say it as it is: the OSCE does not work in this direction on real problems either at the microphone, on the sidelines, or in the quiet of offices. In principle, it does nothing but compile libellous reports based on data slipped through the NGO “Big Brother”. Shame and shame.