Dmitry Nekrasov, political analyst
Under Nicholas I, not only the Decembrist uprising took place in Russia, but also, for example, "potato riots". We will not now discuss whether the uprising of the Decembrists could lead the country to something good, but even doubting such a possibility, one can respect the Decembrists for their progressive intentions, disinterestedness or true patriotism. But even Soviet historiography did not particularly heroize the participants in the potato riots.
Whatever mistakes the Nikolayev authorities made in planting potatoes, this measure was generally progressive and ultimately useful for the peasants themselves. No matter how terrible the economic situation of the peasants and disgusting the Nikolayev regime as a whole, it is clear that the potato riots were largely driven by savagery and superstition. They were objectively harmful to the peasants themselves.
The 19th century Russian elite was corrupt, lived in luxury and spent the money gained by the brutal exploitation of peasants while traveling abroad. The Chinese Qing elite of the same time was also corrupt and lived in luxury against the background of the poverty of the population. And abroad I spent even less Russian money. However, the Russian one was engaged in at least some reforms and innovations. She planted potatoes, for example. And the Chinese sought to isolate themselves. As a result, by the end of the 19th century, Russia was noticeably more developed in comparison with China.
Corruption and luxury did not stop the Russian elite from doing some useful things, and it was not corruption that was the main reason why the Chinese elite could not do them at the same time.
Does corruption and luxury of the Nikolaev bureaucracy justify the actions of the participants in the potato riots? Well, approximately to the same extent as the corruption and luxury of the Kazakh elite can be used as an excuse for protests against absolutely reasonable reforms of the gas market.
In Belarus, Lukashenko or Uzbekistan of the Karimov era, the elites objectively had fewer opportunities to enrich themselves and were much less able to export them abroad than the Kazakh elite of the Nazarbayev era. This is an objective fact. But the same objective fact is that the results of the economic development of these three countries are strikingly different in favor of Kazakhstan in all conceivable parameters. Exactly because socialist vestiges such as non-market pricing on the gas market were radically and consistently eradicated in Kazakhstan, and Karimov and Lukashenko supported these vestiges in every possible way. But the elites had fewer opportunities to enrich themselves.
Does the restriction of opportunities for the elite's enrichment justify the idiotic economic policies of Karimov and Lukashenko? Well, to the same extent that Kazakh corruption can justify protests against sensible reforms.
Mugabe in Zimbabwe repressed his political opponents, and at Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, the communists somehow suspiciously often committed suicide in prison. Should we treat this repression in the same way, taking into account the results of the economic development of these two countries under the appropriate leaders?
Batista's regime was extremely corrupt. Castro, among other things, used slogans against corruption and luxury of the elites. Many of Cuba's neighboring islands are still corrupt and suffer from economic inequality. But a comparison of the last 60 years of the development of these islands with Cuba suggests that it would be better if the elite of Batista's time continued to steal and live luxuriously than the victory of SUCH fighters against corruption.
There are actions of Russia in Ukraine, and there are, for example, in Tajikistan. It is quite difficult to argue with the fact that the Russian contingent in Tajikistan performs an important stabilizing function, and without it the likelihood of a civil war in the republic would have increased dramatically. If we don’t like Putin and his aggressive foreign policy, should we call for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Tajikistan, or is this completely overkill?
Why am I all this? As usual, I am confused by the one-sidedness, uncompromising attitude and speed of judgment of the majority of representatives of the Russian "progressive public" about everything that happened in Kazakhstan. It's just some splint: all protests are good, everything that Putin does is bad, any Russian troops abroad are bad.
I strongly support the protests for the expansion of civil and political rights, but I distinguish them from potato riots, inter-clan power struggles and simply pogroms. The more information about what happened, the less visible the first and more of the other three components. Moreover, it is clear that the chances for some favorable scenario of a democratizing development of events were initially illusory, but the chances for complete chaos and anarchy were on the contrary.
Well, let's compare, let's say, with the situation in Belarus-2020. If then the Belarusian regime collapsed and Lukashenka fled, it was generally clear that Tikhanovskaya would become president, at least for the first time, and that a civil war was unlikely. No matter how events developed later, there are many options, but the protest had an understandable image of a positive outcome with not very high risks of catastrophic scenarios.
In Kazakhstan, everything is exactly the opposite. It is completely incomprehensible who would come to power than Massimov is better than Tokayev, is there anyone in the country at the same time who really has a chance to keep the situation and is more civilized than Tokayev? But the chances of full-scale inter-clan clashes right up to sliding into a civil war were quite real. Orderly more than in the same Belarus.
Therefore, in principle, I do not have an unequivocal opinion about how he relates to Tokayev's actions. You can condemn lies and some methods, but the fact that he, in principle, regained control over the situation is rather good than bad. At least I have a very poor idea of a simultaneously realistic and more positive alternative.
At the moment, the introduction of the CSTO troops has solved, in fact, one task - it helped Tokayev establish control over his own security forces. And it seems to me that this was originally the main goal. Before that, many security officials were ready to play against Tokayev, and he needed to create a shah for them in the person of Moscow. (By the way, what alternatives did he have? Call the American troops? So they wouldn't go. Chinese? Would it be better?).
If we proceed from the fact that the only real alternative to what happened is catastrophic destabilization (the victory of another clan, in fact, is not an alternative), then at the moment this input of troops has played a positive role. (Maybe I'm wrong, I don't see something, and there was an alternative to real democratization, who thinks so - well, describe it to me in a few strokes. If the alternative is chaos, then it is definitely not in the interests of any Russians).
What will happen next is a big question, but if it is bad, then it will be necessary to react to those measures that will lead to bad, and not to the very fact of stabilization.
Even before, Kazakhstan has not been distinguished by a special democracy, whether it will be much worse we'll see.
The rise in Russian political influence will almost certainly have a negative impact on the Kazakh economy. It is not clear, however, why the opposition Russians are worried about this. In fact, there are no negative consequences for Russia here. The economy of Kazakhstan in any case will suffer greatly, but the more, the more the progressive public praises the "potato riots" against sound economic policies.
Some mythical "strengthening of Russia" (which I do not particularly see) can probably cause fear in Washington or Beijing, but why this irritates the Russian opposition is not entirely clear.
An alarming example is the resurgence of practices from the "Holy Alliance" or "Warsaw Pact" era, in which certain types of regimes helped each other fight protests. However, the Belarusians and the Kyrgyz should worry about this again. I do not have enough imagination to imagine how the Kyrgyz or Armenian special forces can save the Putin regime, if it suddenly comes to this.
In general, nothing but a black-and-white picture of the world, where everything that Putin does is necessarily bad, and any protests are necessarily not clearly visible. And the dominance of such a picture of the world, the inability to see halftones will not lead to anything good.
Original is here.