Tight Grip of Democracy

By Alina Kantor

Democracy as natural state of existence for a western person in new, developing countries, can be perceived in the context of collapse of civilizations. This is a challenge, which can’t be ignored.

Let’s acknowledge, we know East badly. But our main mistake is that we don’t really want to know it. Have anyone taken a thought how hard times former soviet republics went through in the period of the USSR collapse? Debt crisis of Europe in comparison with the collapse of the communist system is romp in a sandbox. But the most important is that many people relate humanitarian disaster in these countries with riot of democracy. And naturally the values it propagates are treated with caution. In the best case they cite Byron, who said, that democracy is aristocracy of bustards.

Recently I’ve had an opportunity to take part in a symbolic meeting, which clarified many things. I happened to see in person the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. He came to London with a working visit during Olympic Games and was invited to Cambridge for the meeting with professors, tutors and students. This fact amazed me deeply. One should be aware of conservative traditions of this establishment, which invites only leading world politicians, to understand that there have never been casual visitors in this university. By the way, N.Nazarbayev is the first from the Heads of state of post-soviet area who visited Cambridge.

What have I learned from this meeting for myself first of all? Probably is that one should be more tolerant towards other countries. Liberal press frequently criticizes Kazakhstan, which, as it seems to us, builds democratic community not actively enough. Nursultan Nazarbayev noted that within this process, it’s very important to observe the sense of balance. Everything should be done gradually.

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“We had the example of the collapsed Soviet Union. When by Gorbachyov thaw first of all were proclaimed freedom of speech, democracy, all negative things, which had accumulated in the country, were thrown out to the sidewalks and streets, and there was no one to clean it up”, - noted the President of Kazakhstan. In other words, the society found itself not ready to modifications. There was no political culture or powerful economic basis for that.

Democracy was perceived, as today is still perceived by many people, as permissiveness. “That is why the events like Andijan in Uzbekistan took place, Osh – last year, where hundreds of people died, and in our Janaozen, - underlined Kazakhstani politician with regret.

Here, I should say I stumbled, as much is written about Janaozen, but information is so contradicting, that it’s impossible to clear it out without thorough analysis of this issue. Some Mass Media call the events in  West of Kazakhstan as an uprising. But uprising in classic understanding is manifestation of some social groups or classes against existing political power. Here the situation is different. Oilmen were not satisfied with their salaries. They held a strike. They were fired. In reply they went out to smash the town, burn buildings, rob and maraud. Generally, to use correct terms it’s rather riot than uprising.

By this, as English poet John Harington used to say: Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare
call it treason.

We may joke, but there are plenty of opinions in the Internet regarding the events happened. And in this context, we can outline of the main opponents of Kazakhstani authorities – foundation “Open Dialogue” from Poland. These people at all consider that it was a peaceful demonstration in Janaozen.

The Foundation “Open Dialogue” is perceived positively by shallow observation. You feel like to say: here, they are those who care, to support for democracy.

The managers of the foundation state, that it was founded by people, who consider European values – freedom of person, human rights, democracy and self-governing – not just a declaration, but a casual reality, in which may and should live the person of the 21st century.

And they decided to achieve their objectives with, quoting: “open nonviolent public pressure towards politicians and power bodies of various countries”. Which they actually do. But impression arises that this organization proclaimed jihad against Kazakhstan, as it is focused at this country for 90%. This is already odd, isn’t it?

During a long period of time the foundation actively forms a negative image of Kazakhstan abroad. For this they use all possible sources and newsbreaks. Some European politicians are “armed” with information provided by this organization criticize Kazakhstani Themis. As if court trials on the events in Janaozen can’t be named as transparent. Now in Aktau they finished appeal court hearings on the cases of disturbances participants. And “Open Dialogue” once again intensified activity, trying to get the defendants out of responsibility. And this is already can be estimated as pressure on court. By this it is naked pressure.

In general there is more than enough populism in the activity of the foundation. In this respect it’s worth mentioning the letter-ultimatum for the authorities of Kazakhstan, in which the foundation “Open Dialogue” warns about possible negative consequences, which can affect the talks on new treaty on cooperation between the EU and Kazakhstan.

I.e. there is an impression that the foundation is a powerful organization which is able to influence big policy. And when the kind of ambitious projects are born, it’s always interesting to know, “where does it really come from”. And here very interesting details uncover.

As it turned out, a pretty odious personality stands in the list of foundation founders – somebody Ivan Shertsiuk. In 2005 this sir was trapped in the core of scandal, developing at the background of Presidential electoral campaign in Kazakhstan. The Human Rights Defender announced himself as the representative of the international mission of observers of independent Ukrainian, Belarusian and Polish Mass Media. And he really resented when his observers weren’t allowed to the elections in Alma-Ata. Naturally, opposition right away used the situation in its favor as the prove of violation of democratic rights and freedoms and non-transparency of electoral campaign.

As it turned out later, Ukrainian reporters weren’t even registered at the Central Electoral Committee of Kazakhstan. Moreover, for three times they tried to get accreditation each time from different editions or organizations: as the representatives of the “Youth Movement Observing Center”, as “Legal Newspaper” reporters, as employees of Uzhgorod municipal newspaper “Human Rights Defender” and finally as the members of International Mission, headed by Mr. Shertsiuk.

By the way, during the interview for the newspaper ะช Mr. Sherstiuk confessed, “that this “mission” is not an officially registered organization – just, this way, he decided to call reporters from various countries, covering Presidential campaign in Kazakhstan”.

Sherstiuk himself was deported from Kazakhstan in presence of Ukrainian ambassador. Although, hardly because of deportation this human rights defender harbored that much on Kazakhstan. The reason is in his close connection with oppositional party of Kazakhstan “Alga” (DVK). He came to observe under the invitation of one of the leaders of this association. The observer repeatedly visited the Headquarters of opposition, met with managers doing his utmost to support them by preparation of public events.

Which means that dislike of Kazakhstan explain exactly political predilections of Sherstiuk. Considering that behind DVK stands one of the main opponents of Kazakh authorities, the criminal wanted by Great Britain, Kazakhstan and Russia, somebody Mukhtar Ablyazov – non-motivated hatred of “Open Dialogue” towards Kazakhstan becomes clear. It is just business, paid by black PR, in which unfortunately, some European politicians believe as little kids.

Unfortunately, democracy today turns into the struggle of shadow capitals, which doesn’t give it popularity. For people like Sherstiuk this is a perfect way of earnings. In particular , we managed to find out, that before the establishment of the foundation most time he worked in polish city of Lublin, where actively held trainings for oppositional leaders of post-soviet states. We can only guess what this activist taught them to.

The human rights defender as sociologist and observer participated not only in Kazakhstani elections, but also of Ukraine, Georgia, where he also managed to leave his trace. And the methods of his work that time almost didn’t differ from those of modern “open Dialogue”. At the Internet forums I managed to find a pretty precise characteristic: “another observing”.

Noticeable is that before me many people tried to find out who is Ivan Sherstiuk in the Internet. It is mentioned that in Ukraine in 2007 he was a coordinator of the European Collegium of Polish and Ukrainian universities. A year before he was an international secretary of VMOO “Regional Initiatives Foundation”. He headed the project “European Cooperation 2008” and called himself a co-founder of the “European Foundation “Dialogue for Democracy Development”.

By this the sources for financing of the organization, on behalf of which this person operated, remain unknown. On direct question about this he referred to some Common European Foundation, which is impossible to trace in the Internet.

From all these we may conclude that a harsh information war is deployed against Kazakhstan. Its objective is to undermine stability in society. By the way, there have been no prerequisites for explosion in Janaozen either. By the standards of the Republic oilmen earned pretty much.

Detailed analysis of the situation allows concluding that the conflict was blown artificially with the forces of the organizations like “Open Dialogue”. And Kazakhstani authorities appeared not only not ready to the kind of development of events. And who could expect the kind of things, when the country during 20 years of stability didn’t allow not a single bloody clash. In neighboring countries there were civil wars by the borders with the republic. And only one island of well-being Kazakhstan managed to avoid social collisions. Moreover it is surprising to observe them today, when economy of the country is on the rise, when alive is the generation which survived the crises of first years of independence, the generation which remembers and is able to see and tight grip of democracy not to lead to occurrence of the new hot spots at the map of our planet.