Journalist Pavel Bannikov assessed what is happening in his homeland
Pavel Bannikov is an essayist, journalist, one of the most famous Kazakh Russian-speaking poets. As the chief editor of the “Factcheck in Kazakhstan” project, he has been dealing with fakes, stuffing and Internet myths for many years. So his view of what is happening in his native country is distinguished by balance and objectivity.
Protesters in Almaty. In the hands of one of them a shield taken from a policeman Photo: AP
– Due to pandemic restrictions, I spend more time in Moscow. Because it is very difficult to move between countries. But my work, my relatives, is in Almaty. My editorial office is located there. The fact is that my wife is a citizen of Russia, she is a Muscovite, so I am here. This is not a premonition and has nothing to do with political events at all.
– What is happening is different processes in different cities.
Kazakhstan is very large, its economic structure and mentality are different in different places. We see how the peaceful protest continues to be peaceful in the West of the country, neither in the North, nor in the East there are no big clashes. Although there are many more protesters in the West.
But in Almaty, the peaceful protest failed as semi-criminal and radical groups joined in. The protest is not made with a weapon in hand. And there is a looting of weapons stores, ammunition depots. And along with peaceful demonstrators, armed criminals are at work. This is a big problem. And it is wrong to transfer all this to the experience of Belarus or Ukraine for a number of reasons – both cultural and geographical.
– Communication is very intermittent – literally minutes every 5-10 hours. Now there is no connection – a counter-terrorist operation is underway. What currency – by God! Banks do not work, ATMs are looted. There is looting in the city. The authorities urged the population not to move along the streets during the CTO. According to reports from my colleagues, there is shooting in places. Naturally, there is a curfew throughout Kazakhstan, as well as a state of emergency.
Now it is difficult to say who is behind the collisions. But you can tell exactly who is behind the protests. These are ordinary citizens. They are scattered and unhappy with the status quo. Economic in the first place. But political too. It is difficult to talk about the focus of the requirements, since there is no single headquarters. Peaceful protest has no leaders at the moment.
– In the West and in a number of other cities, the protesters and the republican authorities are in dialogue. And this dialogue turns out. In Almaty, it remains to be hoped that during the special operation those who went out for changes and reforms without weapons in their hands will not suffer. And the rampant banditry will be stopped by our policemen and soldiers with minimal casualties.
– It should be remembered that one of the goals of this organization is to preserve the territorial integrity of the participating states. Therefore, talking about some kind of “invasion” of Russian troops into Kazakhstan is, at the very least, not very smart. The participating country asked the members of the treaty to help with the peacekeeping force. We have a nuclear fuel storage facility and the Baikonur cosmodrome. CSTO units will be involved in the protection of strategic facilities. The anti-terrorist operation in Almaty, judging by the footage that I see, is being carried out on our own.
– I would do the same as now. I would try to deal with the most correct coverage of events, check disinformation stuffing, perhaps, organize volunteer assistance to victims. And of course, I would support loved ones personally, and not at a distance. As for the parties, I am a journalist, not a politician. I understand the discontent of my fellow citizens and I believe that they have the right to protest, and the authorities should hear people. Any violence is evil, and it does not only lead to negative consequences.
A video of a powerful shooting on Republic Square in Almaty has been published
Watch a video on the topic