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What is happening in Kazakhstan

Tokayev has invaded the country and the people are under Russian occupation
protestas-kazajistan

REUTERS/MARIYA GORDEYEVA  -   Soldiers at the main square where hundreds of people protested against the government, following the authorities' decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas, in Almaty, Kazakhstan January 6, 2022 REUTERS/MARIYA GORDEYEVA

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IT WILL BE A LONGREAD. BUT PLEASE READ IT. 

This is what was happening on the square [Square of Republic] yesterday. Please tell the world what is happening in KAZAKHSTAN.
Brothers and sisters! 


Titushkis [people at the margins of society who are paid to destabilize / provoke others] and looters were launched by the government in order to drain the protest movement, to drown it in blood. In the blood of our brothers. The people who came out to the streets of our cities are not fringe and pogromists, not terrorists, as the authorities claim. These are the people of Kazakhstan, humiliated, robbed and driven mad by a gang of cowardly traitors and scoundrels.

I was talking to a lot of different people there yesterday. These are guys who came at the call of their hearts from different corners of our country. They are ordinary townspeople, young people, old people, women who can no longer tolerate all this eternal shame, lies and humiliation. 

The authorities are solely to blame for what is happening in our country. Nazarbayev and his hordes of henchmen. By crushing their own people, power has lost the time for negotiations. The time for negotiations has passed.  Specifically, it passed yesterday, when people came out in large numbers for a peaceful protest in support of our brothers in estern Kazakhstan. If people had not come out as one nationwide, they would have drowned the Zhanaozen in blood long ago, like they did ten years ago. After all, the same cannibals and butchers are still in power. For them, our lives are not worth a penny. It was you and I, through our inaction and cowardice, who allowed the shooting to happen. 

On January 4, instead of entering into an open dialogue with the people, the authorities set up cordons and set their hound dogs, the OMON riot police, against the peaceful demonstration.

protestas-kazajistan
Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Khomart Tokayev speaks during a televised address to the nation after protests televised address to the nation following protests sparked by fuel price hikes in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan January 7, 2022. Official website of the president of Kazakhstan via REUTERS

These cowardly creatures, capable only of ripping off harmless old ladies and children in the squares [practice widespread during peaceful protests in Kazakhstan], received a mighty repulse and a complete rout. And there was a reason it happened on a street named after the Kazakh batyr Bauyrzhan Momyshuly. I didn't take part there myself, I heard a participant's words the next day, but one can judge the scale of night battle by huge quantity of shields, helmets, batons and armoured waistcoats on demonstrators, which our "valorous" guards of order threw. Not even hundreds, but thousands. Including the seized weapons and stun grenades. 

I cannot tell you everything that happened yesterday across the entire city, with some kind of timeline, but I can tell you what I saw myself. Yesterday morning, on 5th January, a friend and I drove down Saina avenue in the direction of Momyshuly street to see everything with our own eyes. It was impossible to go further than Tole Bi street. 
The street was blocked by cars and demonstrators. There were helmets, armour, pieces of police clothing and all kinds of rubbish lying everywhere. We found a safe place for the car in that area and walked along Tole Bi Street. Everyone was walking towards the centre, the street was blocked off to the West by cars, some spontaneous barriers and even twisted rails in many places. 

Gradually, closer to the centre, small scattered groups of demonstrators turned into a huge and countless and endless stream, constantly chanting "shal ket" [Kazakh: Leave, old man] and singing the anthem. 

Along the way we saw the ruling Nur Otan party office vandalised. We saw the flaming police stations and their cars. We saw destruction of prosecutor's office, this rotten lair of dogs of the regime, which for so many years have been oppressing people, driving them deeper and deeper into slavery of Nazarbayev. At the same time they call all this lawlessness "observance of legality". Well, what did you expect, Tokayev and Nazarbayev? That they could endlessly knead people and pack them in vans like silent sheep? 
No, the Kazakhs are a nation that lives on its own land bequeathed by its fathers and can stand up for itself. 

We saw how ordinary people, elderly Apashki [older women] carried water and baursaki in carts and handed them out to all those who passed by with their bata (blessing). I remember a beautiful scene of an elderly woman standing on the first floor balcony of Seyfullina Street, shouting something and gesturing to people. Her face was literally shining with happiness and she was really sobbing. She did not understand Kazakh, but when people began to shout at her in Russian: "Babushka, throw down some water", she immediately understood and threw down several five-litre bottles of water, and the column erupted in applause. 

The cops were beaten hard, yes. But it was only the most fervent demonstrators, the rest of them piled in and beat the cops off, or they would have all been beaten to death. I had to stand up for a couple of cops myself. I never thought I'd ever defend them, because I truly hated them. You should have seen what a gruesome sight it was, stripped and beaten cops in snot and blood.

protestas-kazajistan
Burnt administrative building in central Almaty after violence erupted following protests over rising fuel prices AFP/ABDUAZIZ MADYAROV

There were altercations between the protesters on this ground, some shouting "Don't spare them, they wouldn't spare us", which is very true. But there were no fights between the protesters. There were even calls to throw all the prisoners out in front and use them as human shields. Anticipating such an outcome, the police (and probably the military too ) took off their shoulder straps and joined the protesters en masse. There were many of them in camouflage and in groups. Some protesters tried to beat them up, while others stopped them, saying "they're ours now and must not be touched". 

What I did not see was any aggression towards the residents of the city. Many people calmly went out into the streets and talked to the protesters. Someone was taking water out and distributing it. Nobody touched civilian objects. Except for the broken lanterns and benches they tried to build barricades with. Oh yes, they also smashed a lot of "Sergek" cameras [surveillance cameras installed all over the city], I think with particular gusto. 

Approaching the square, tension began to build. People were expecting that the square will be defended and thus prepared for another clash. But the small police force which had been stationed there as the column approached quickly retreated along Satpayev Street. Of course, the very sight of this avalanche of people banging on their shields can easily make one shit in his trousers, and it is absolutely impossible to stop this mass, because people were already really pissed off. The protesters immediately occupied the abandoned akimat and it went up in flames. 

The people gradually filled the square. My friend and I were taking photographs of the fallen akimat (you don't see such a building every day), and we went to look at what was burning so badly on the eastern side. It turned out to be a car. People were gathering behind the square with the firm intention of storming the president's residence, which was being defended by a detachment of soldiers. From there there was a continuous rumble of grenades and a thick fog. There was a guy running around in the square shouting: "Are there any more soldiers, shall I take them?" And we saw two soldiers like that there. It was the strongest impression of the day yesterday, despite what I'll tell you next. 

protestas-kazajistan
Protesters take part in a rally against rising energy prices in Almaty on 5 January 2022. AFP/ABDUAZIZ MADYAROV

The soldiers turned out to be literal children. Whether they were conscripts or cadets, I don't know. But they looked about 17 or 18 years old. These bastards sent them to defend the regime while being practically teenagers and left them there to their fate. Stripped naked, barefoot in the snow, brutally beaten, confused, in absolute prostration. It was an absolutely heartbreaking spectacle. Those protestors who had fought them off and dragged them out covered them with their jackets. My friend and I walked over and also started chasing off those who wanted to get their revenge until the end. Then they were evacuated by the same guy. Where these soldiers were from, I don't know. Probably from an army truck, which had been hijacked on Furmanov Street earlier. 

I saw a column of 4 such trucks, which tried to break through on Furmanov st. under a hail of stones and sticks. When I say hail of stones, I mean a real hail of stones. "Thanks" the protesters should say to Baibek [previous akim – mayor of Almaty who did a lot of street renovation], for so many quality weapons of the proletariat. With this car, which the protesters were able to seize, they later rammed the fence of the residence. 

After that, we heard some desperate shouting nearby, including that of women. We could not see anything clearly, everything was fogged up with grenades, but we could see that some kind of struggle was going on. The explosions did not stop like on New Year's Eve. We were running and suddenly, we saw a Kazakh opposition figure, Zhanbolat Mamay, who was  wife Inga Mamay was desperately trying to protect from a couple of three attackers who were shouting "die, traitor" at him. One guy with a sapper blade fought Zhanbolat off as best he could, but Zhanbolat was still hit hard on the head with his shield. We ran up and helped fight him off. So, Zhanbolat, who I heard had been badly beaten by the police before, got another one from his own. He was half out, and he looked in a way that made it hard to recognise him. His face was swollen and bloody. If it hadn't been for the guy with the shovel, he probably would have been killed there. Because it was in a public garden and there were no people around. The attackers retreated and walked away up Furmanov Street. Zhanbolat and Inga, accompanied by that guy, went up Furmanov Street. We wanted to accompany them, because it was dangerous for them to walk past the storming residence, but in the turmoil and fog we quickly lost them. Later when we saw the guy with the shovel, he said he took them to a safe distance. Hopefully, Zhanbolat is alive, safe and receiving medical treatment. 

That's how we ended up on Furmanov Zholdasbekov Street, which, by the way, is now Furmanov Street again, because there is not a single Nazarbayev sign left. 
There were altercations between the protesters on this ground, some shouting "Don't spare them, they wouldn't spare us", which is very true. But there were no fights between the protesters. There were even calls to throw all the prisoners out in front and use them as human shields. Anticipating such an outcome, the police (and probably the military too ) took off their shoulder straps and joined the protesters en masse. There were many of them in camouflage and in groups. Some protesters tried to beat them up, while others stopped them, saying "they're ours now and must not be touched". 

protestas-kazajistan
More than 70 cargo planes are being deployed in Russia's peacekeeping mission in Kazakhstan.
PHOTO/ RU-RTR Russian Television via AP

What I did not see was any aggression towards the residents. Many people calmly went out into the streets and talked to the protesters. Someone was taking water out and distributing it. Nobody touched civilian objects. Except for the broken lanterns and benches they tried to build barricades with. Oh yes, they also smashed a lot of "Sergek" cameras, I think with particular gusto. 

As they approached the square, tension began to build. People waited to be defended and prepared for another clash. But the small police force which had been stationed there as the column approached quickly retreated along Satpayev Street. Of course, the very sight of this avalanche of people banging on their shields can easily make one shit in his trousers, and it is absolutely unreal to stop this mass, because people were really pissed off already. The protesters immediately occupied the abandoned akimat and it went up in flames. 

The people gradually filled the square. My friend and I were taking photographs of the fallen akimat (you don't see such a building every day), and we went to look at what was burning so badly on the eastern side. It turned out to be a car. People were gathering behind the square with the firm intention of storming the president's residence, which was being defended by a detachment of soldiers. From there there was a continuous rumble of grenades and a thick fog. There was a guy running around in the square shouting: "Are there any more soldiers, shall I take them?" And we saw two soldiers like that there. It was the strongest impression of the day yesterday, despite what I'll tell you next. 

The soldiers turned out to be the most genuine children. Whether they were conscripts or cadets, I don't know. But they look about 17 or 18 years old. These bastards sent them to defend the regime practically teenagers and left them there to their fate. Stripped naked, barefoot in the snow, brutally beaten, confused, in absolute prostration. It was an absolutely heartbreaking spectacle. Those protestors who had fought them off and dragged them out covered them with their jackets. My friend and I walked over and also started chasing off those who wanted to get even until the end. Then they were evacuated by the same guy. Where these soldiers were from, I don't know. Probably from an army truck, which had been hijacked on Furmanov Street earlier. 

I saw a column of 4 such trucks, which tried to break through on Furmanova under a hail of stones and sticks. When I say hail of stones, I mean a real hail of stones. "Thanks" the protesters should say to Baibek, for so many quality weapons of the proletariat. With this car, which the protesters were able to seize, they later rammed the fence of the residence. 
After that, we heard some desperate shouting nearby, including women’s voices. We could not see anything clearly, everything was fogged up with grenades, but we could see that some kind of struggle was going on. The explosions did not stop like on New Year's Eve. We were running and suddenly, we saw a Kazakh opposition figure, Zhanbolat Mamay, whom his wife Inga Mamay was trying to desperately protect, from two-three attackers who were shouting "die, traitor" at him. One guy with a sapper blade fought Zhanbolat off as best he could, but Zhanbolat was still hit hard on the head with a shield. We ran up and helped fight him off. So, Zhanbolat, who I heard had been badly beaten by the police before, took another hit from his own. He was half out, and he looked in a way that made it hard to recognise him. His face was swollen and bloody. If it hadn't been for the guy with the shovel, he probably would have been killed there since it all happened in a public garden and there were no people around. The attackers retreated and walked away up Furmanov Street. Zhanbolat and Inga, accompanied by the guy who fought him off, went up Furmanov Street. We wanted to accompany them, because it was dangerous for them to walk past those who were storming residence, but in the turmoil and fog we quickly lost them. Later when we saw the guy with the shovel, he said he took them to a safe distance. Hopefully, Zhanbolat is alive, safe and receiving medical treatment. 

That's how we ended up on the crossing of Furmanov and Zholdasbekov Streets, which, by the way, is now Furmanov Street again, because there is not a single street sign that says Nazarbayev left. 

There were militaries behind the fence of the residence, they looked cool, like American commandos, fully equipped with submachine guns. My friend and I approached the fence and started shouting: "Don't shoot the people!" but they responded by throwing grenades at us. One exploded under my feet, I lost my hearing for a minute, all I could hear was whistling. We ran away, but came back to say what we wanted to say, because they had clearly heard us and were listening. In any case, at some point they stopped throwing grenades at us. I did not record what was happening because the protesters requested not to do so. However, I had to record the speech my friend made, but I couldn’t do so, I regret it a lot. 

It was a strong speech delivered in beautiful Kazakh, he shouted to the military men: “Brothers! You were also birthed and brought up by Kazakh mothers. If there is a war tomorrow, we are those who will stand next to you shoulder to shoulder till the very end. Do not shoot at your own people! Do not be slaves of Nazarbayev! He will sell you out as soon as you will cease being useful to him! Look at the young men who were captured! They are the same age as our children! Change your mind, serve only the people! Do not take the orders of those who pin us against one another. Throw away your weapons, get on the people’s side! Do not shoot your people, think about how you are going to live among them. How are you doing to be able to look your children in the eyes!” I felt a lump in my throat [not sure how this could be translated: подступил ком к горлу], but, alas, these words were not heard.

protestas-kazajistan
Russian peacekeepers board a Russian military plane at an airfield outside Moscow, Russia for a flight to Kazakhstan Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022 Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

We [author and his friend] did not want to participate in the storming of the president’s residence itself, because we found it to be useless and not right because taking the Akimat [hôtel de ville/town hall] as a symbol was more than enough. We decided to go back to the square to look at what was happening there. The moment itself was rather calm and we started running down Furmanov street. However, as it turned out, it was a calm before the storm and at this point began the storm and we got right in the epicenter of the events.

The protesters brought an army van, turned it around and with force displaced several segments of the fence. It created a hole and at this moment we heard eruptions of grenades and there began the hellish shooting. At that moment I was right under the fire and was barely able to sit. From a dense fog ran out a young man, possibly the one who was driving the van that rammed through the fence. I thought that the driver died because I saw the bullets entering the van’s cabin. There was squall shooting and I remember it as if it happened in slow-motion. The bullet got into the young man’s leg, he fell and tried to continue crawling. I tried to help him, but a grenade fell in front of me, I couldn’t see anything anymore and sat down. After several seconds when the smoke started to wane, I saw the silhouettes of young men who were taking him away by the arms. That was happening during the continuing shooting. They were shooting at random. It was practically impossible to aim because there was a dense smokescreen. In these circumstances it was possible to get a bullet, therefore, I swiftly hid behind a police booth.

On Furmanov street there was a police booth, the protesters tried to rip it out and use it a shield for attack. It was of very good quality; obvious that the police did not save money on their own safety. For this reason, they were not able to rip it out, it stood there at an angle. A couple of guys hid inside. Next to it there was another hole in the fence through which the storming crowds tried to get in. They used the booth as a bridgehead. However, every time they were stopped by heavy shooting. They retreated but didn’t leave the wounded and every time taking them out from under the fire. I don’t know if those were live ammunition or rubber bullets, but there was a fountain of blood. That place is most likely still covered with blood. Some wounded were taken away straight away, others were taken to the booth where they were put on the shields and only then taken away. As it turns out shields are great stretchers. I cannot say for sure but at least ten guys were taken from this attack. I did not see the dead, but I am not sure that one of the wounded didn’t die later. Some had serious blood loss. 

When the attack went down a little, we went to the public garden, but it seems the storm was only beginning because more and more determined people started filing in. Later the residence was taken over and the soldiers were somehow evacuated. The building itself was set on fire. I want to say straight away that if you take these young men to be specifically trained militants you are very wrong. They are simple guys, true dzhigits [Kazakh: true men] with balls, not some couch experts. They came there to say “no” to Nazarbayev’s regime, but the authorities made them angry by firing at them. It seemed that they would stand there till the very end. They are not titushki [people at the margins of society who are paid to destabilize / provoke others], because titushki would NEVER go under fire. No one knew one another there; people were simply unified by their will to freedom and the hatred towards the regime. If any of those guys are reading this, know we are brothers. I knew with certainty had anything happened I would be taken away from there with any cost. And know that whatever people are called, however they are denigrated, I swear, from this day on I will be proud of my people till the end of days. And all my words and offences I took in relation to Kazakhs as a nation, all my doubts about the future of our people, I take them back. We are a nation, one with a strong character.

When we came back to the square, we really wanted to drink some water. We sat down on a bench but were chased away by doctors. They put a wounded young man on it and started to check him up. As far as I understood those were ambulance doctors. After us asking why he is not taken straight away to the hospital, they said “there’s a chance we would not be able to get him there in time”. Besides, I think, the hospitals were full. It was very dangerous for ambulances to get through because they weren’t let in and attacked. One such ambulance car was laying on Zheltoksan.

YOU WILL ASK – WHY? I asked. And reply was the same from everybody. During the night collision police was providing stun grenades and weapons to their troops inside ambulance cars. Many of these grenades which ended up in the hands of the protesters were taken from these ambulance cars. I cannot confirm these as facts since I did not witness it with my own eyes, but knowing the amoral nature of our government, I do not doubt it at all. Besides, they could not supply their people using police cars – that is for sure. You saw, perhaps, how many broken police cars were scattered around the city. 

There were many people on the main square. They kept on arriving. But this mass could not organize itself. Because it was a purely spontaneous outing, despite whatever it is that you are told. There was no preparation, people constantly tried to organize, tried to create an initiative committee, but there weren’t even speakers available for that.

Everybody kept saying that there is a need in barricades at least from both sides of the square; they talked about the need to find tents, food, nobody wanted to leave; people were saying that we couldn’t give up the square because the clearance was about to start, and police would wait up and take back the square. There were talks that looting and general pogroms shouldn’t be let to happen. People wanted to organize squads; they discussed the need to call for more people. People spontaneously spoke for quite a while, but no one could hear them, the speeches could not gather an audience even for such known people as an opposition representative Zhasaral Kuanshalin. He quickly lost his voice, he talked of constitution, keeping the order and election. Same situation happened to other speakers, everybody was saying the right things, that protesters should present clear demands: firstly, that Nazarbayev must finally leave for good, that Nur-Otan leading party is disbanded, however, this did not lead to anything because people did not have the resources. In that moment I was envious of our brothers in Arytau and Aktau, they had real leaders, everyone there was local and managed to organize tents, food, medical supplies, etc. Protesters from Almaty did not have any of that.

From time to time someone would bring water and bread, but it was not nearly enough. Suddenly, out of nowhere came Dikiy [Russian: wild] Arman [a known criminal leader]. He was saying something but what was he talking about I couldn’t heard. After that he took a third of the protesters away from the square. Others screamed at them to not give into the KNB [cabinet of national safety] provocations. Later he came back and said something else, but I still did not hear any of it. When I asked another protester, he told me that “he said nonsense” and the protesters chased him away. There’s nothing else I can say about it. 

When it started to get dark people got really cold. Those who could left to their relatives’ houses to get warm and rest. My friend and I came back in two hours, at that point the residence was already burned down, besides that there was a lot of firefighting equipment laying around the roads. Traffic around the city was not regulated that’s why people just drove around the flaming bases on Furmanov street despite the danger of explosions. There was still a part of people remaining on the square, they were building barricades, putting up the giant flag which was taken down from the building of Akimat. The square was not stormed, there was no police. But it was clear that in this state people could not keep it. Most people, from what I understood, left to storm the airport. 

I am still in awe, where did these people get so much strength to go storm a guarded airport which stands 30 kilometers away during the second day of resistance. But people were in a hurry because there was information that Putin’s army was on its way. People said that if the airport won’t be stormed, they will be killed by the “ikhtamnety”[Russian: they are not there, reference to Putin’s claims that Russian soldiers were not present in Ukraine during the conflict]. As you know yourself, the airport was taken but not kept for long because the first military aircraft landed in Burundai [military base in the Almaty region] and there was no reason to keep the airport anymore.

I don’t know what is happening on our holy square that absorbed the blood of our Kazakhs in December of 1986 and the one which now took in blood in January of 2022. There were a lot of blood stains. It seems there were clashes there even earlier. That we will know about in our own time. But now I don’t know anything and that really worries me. I only heard fragments of information that during the storm of ROVD (police station) lots of protesters were killed and that somewhere in Kalkaman there was a shootout with many killed, that there a band of looters around the city.

When it comes to looters, it was clear that the authorities would send in the titushki and discredit the protests, putting the country under Putin’s boot. It was clear right after Dikiy Arman [criminal authorities] presented himself on the square. At night my friend and I left there, walking many kilometers along Al-Farabi avenue by foot because it was impossible to call a cab. I am ashamed to say, as a person who walks from the car to the door I am not used to walking so much around the city. Today I can barely walk.

I believe that this text was given to me by the guy who brought water and food to the square, the one who told us that Tokayev called in the ODKB [the military union]. When you are sitting amid the information blockade all information is like a breath of fresh air. I think that one day these events will be talked about same as the Anarak battles, the same way as the December events of 1986 and the Zhanaozen massacre 2011. That brother told us: “Tell everyone that we came to a PEACEFUL PROTEST. It is the authorities’ fault in what is happening today because they were the ones to first attack their people and started shooting Kazakhs. Tell everyone who has ears, everyone who has a head and a heart about what happened today and what you saw with your own bare eyes. Use all means. Tell every compatriot that WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS, we are fighting for our Motherland, for the future of our children, for the future of your children. We will not step back.”

Today when I heard that Tokayev told blatant lies calling all the protesters looters and provocateurs, I, Kazakh architect Aidar Yergali, realized that it is my duty to tell about what was happening on the square in reality.  

Yes, it was not all correct, there were no leaders. But where would they come from if during the 30 years of his reign Nazarbayev killed and suppressed every single one who had put their head above. But during these days many Kazakhs understood that they are not slaves of dictators anymore. Kazakhs are a nation. We are kazakhs, we are bawirlar (Kazakh: brothers). We will be able to create a strong democratic state, country of Kazakhs, country of free people. 

And now my amanat [Kazakh: message] to all those who have read this. I don’t know what will happen to me in the future, but if you stand in solidarity with us, get this text to everyone, don’t repost it, just copy it. Alga Qazaqstan [Kazakh: Kazakhstan ahead]! Shal ket [Kazakh: Leave, old man]!