For many Kazakhs, the full story behind the unrest of the past week remains as murky as the mist that enveloped Almaty, the country’s largest city and the centre of violence, at the same time.
People were unable to access accurate information, as an internet blackout froze almost all access to the outside world during a tragic few days of violence in which military vehicles rolled through the streets, government buildings burned and state television carried rolling threats that “bandits and terrorists” would be eliminated without mercy. Now both order and the internet have been largely restored, but there are still more questions than answers. One thing that is clear is many of the old assumptions about Kazakhstan, the resource-rich Central Asian state, have been overturned.
Just last month the country celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence, with official speeches highlighting the image of a peaceful, prosperous nation, one that had largely avoided political unrest and boasted an independent and “multivector” foreign policy.