Foreign Press on Terrorist Attack Against Kazakhstan: When Arrogance Leads to Ignorance

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan came out with an official statement denouncing “a number of publications” in Western media, which presented a twisted, pro-terrorist picture of the recent tragic events in Kazakhstan. “Currently, the law enforcement agencies and armed forces of Kazakhstan are confronting terrorists, not ‘peaceful protesters’ as some foreign media misrepresent it,” Kazakh diplomats stated.

Dmitry Babich

Diplomacy uses a special language, avoiding emotional statements and trying to retain good relations with foreign partners, even when they are obviously “on the wrong side” – and not just of history, but on the wrong side of elementary human ethics and common sense.

What can one say about these reports? According to the official, verified information, 16 law enforcement personnel were killed by the terrorists and 1,300 soldiers and policemen injured – and in faraway Germany Die Welt daily is still writing about “peaceful protesters” who “went against dictatorship”. Die Welt’s author Clemens Wergin never set foot in Kazakhstan. But, unimpressed by the dreadful statistics we just cited, Wergin is ready to pass his judgment on the presence of CSTO forces in Kazakhstan: “This is a Russian military intervention!” (In reality the forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization CSTO, where Russia is just one of 5 members, were invited by the Kazakh government and will leave in 10 days, when the situation in the country is completely stabilized.)

How can one react to such an obvious, insulting lie?

How can one subdue emotions, when The Spectator, a respected British publication, is still printing something about “brutal crackdown” from the government’s side and predicts “Tiananmen variant” for Kazakhstan, obviously referring to the tragic developments in China in 1989?

Can democrats kill and maim humans, including innocent bystanders? Could “peaceful protesters,” described by The Spectator destroy 1300 businesses, loot and ransack more than 100 banks and trade centers, inflict the damage of $2.5-3 billion dollars? (These statistics were provided by Erzhan Kazykhan, the Special Representative of the President of Kazakhstan for International Cooperation.)

No, real peaceful protesters do not do such awful things! And until January 4, when the protests against fuel price hikes were peaceful, no one touched the protesters. Their demands were actually met on a personal order from President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

But the killers and looters, the international terrorists who attacked the mayor’s office in Almaty and damaged a number of official buildings there – they could not care less about fuel prices. People who were prepared to maim, kill and lose their own lives – they don’t think about gas prices.

“We understand that the threat to Kazakhstan’s  statehood is not coming from spontaneous protest actions against the fuel price hikes,” said the Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The situation was obviously used by the destructive forces inside and outside Kazakhstan… People who took up arms and went against the state – they had other priorities than the people of Kazakhstan.”

The logic of the Russian president is clear and easy to understand here. But, obviously, there are certain circles both outside and inside Kazakhstan, which need the myth of “peaceful protesters.”

Reuters reports from Paris that “European foreign ministers will this week discuss possible measures to respond to the crackdown against anti-government protests in Kazakhstan.”

 “They will discuss measures which Europe could take to send a message: that you cannot crush a people, protesters, rebelling against the cost of living,” European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told CNEWS.

But isn’t it clear that the terrorists were not “rebelling against the cost of living”? Did not the Western press itself report from the Mangistau region that the initial protests (which indeed were about the fuel prices) were never suppressed?  

Obviously,  some Western government officials, such as Mr. Beaune, are just repeating unverified reports of their countries’ media outlets, which are indeed one-sided to day the least. Sloppy work from journalists plus the unquenchable desire of certain “critics” of Kazakhstan to teach and lecture other nations – this time, on the right way to meet people’s demands.

These foreign reports and statements are made even more painful by the fact that all the problems they are talking about were addressed in the public statements from President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Didn’t the President develop a whole concept of “listening state” which was specifically designed to address the problems such as the one with fuel prices? Did not Kazakhstan join (and encouraged others to join!) the International Code of Anti-Terrorist Conduct? Readers of Kazakh press, citizens of Kazakhstan know about these initiatives of the President. But the “outside critics,” as usual, claim that they know better than locals what the locals need.  

It is interesting to note that even the “critic” of Kazakhstan had to admit on the pages of The Spectator: “Despite the corruption in the country, President Nazarbayev delivered wealth to his people… Kazakhstan, a country the size of the whole of Western Europe, has been well managed… Since 1995, GDP per capita has risen from $2,000 to $27,000 – putting it on a par with Greece.” (‘What’s Happening in Kazakhstan?’ Francis Pike, The Spectator, January 7)

To get a post-Soviet country to the same level as an EU member Greece – is this what you call a failure? And how could Western investors come in big numbers to “dictatorial” Kazakhstan, and not to some “more democratic” post-Soviet state? Something obviously does not add up in the torrent of criticism that was some in the West reaction to  Kazakhstan’s suffering in the hands of terrorists. As if the West has not been familiar with such attacks itself. 

The author is Dmitry Babich, a Moscow-based journalist with 30 years of experience of covering global politics, a frequent guest on BBC, Al Jazeera and RT.    

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