mandag 10. januar 2022

Inequality is driving protest against Kazakhstan’s authoritarian government

Almaty, the commercial capital of Kazakhstan, is the kind of mirage that oil-rich nations so often produce. It has all the trappings of comfort and consumer excess: swanky shopping malls, luxury car dealerships, high-end hotels. This is the image of prosperity that the country’s rulers enjoy projecting to the world. For decades, Kazakhs have been encouraged to take out expensive loans to experience their share in the dream: to buy flats, cars and even holidays they can barely afford.

Beyond the limits of Almaty and the capital city, Nur-Sultan, however, the illusion begins to look threadbare. And the causes behind the protestscurrently gripping the central Asian nation come into focus. Average monthly salaries are less than £450 ($600). Police, doctors, teachers and all kinds of government workers supplement their meagre pay with bribes.