微博

ECO中文网

 找回密码
 立即注册

QQ登录

只需一步,快速开始

查看: 1093|回复: 0
收起左侧

2022.01.12 从伯金包到比特币:哈萨克斯坦的六大抗议活动

[复制链接]
发表于 2022-9-7 23:41:35 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

马上注册 与译者交流

您需要 登录 才可以下载或查看,没有帐号?立即注册

x
From a Birkin bag to bitcoin: Kazakhstan’s protests in six objects
Resentment of the ruling elite pushed the country to the edge of chaos

Jan 12th 2022

Save

Share

Give
By Simon Long

Of the five Central Asian “stans” that emerged as independent republics from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan had seemed the most prosperous, best-run and most stable. Its leader at the time of independence, Nursultan Nazarbayev, remained president until 2019; even afterwards he was the power behind the throne.

Nazarbayev rigged the political system and won elections by repressing the opposition and co-opting the elite, parts of which became fabulously rich, including his own family. When Nazarbayev stood down from the presidency in 2019 he was still recognised in the constitution as “leader of the nation”, and seemed to have engineered a smooth transition by installing a pliable successor, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev. This year that cosy arrangement has fallen apart.


In January, protests started in the south-west of the country against the rising price of car fuel. The unrest soon grew and spread to the country’s largest city, Almaty, and elsewhere. The president’s security forces used lethal force to contain it: dozens of people were killed and thousands detained. Tokayev summoned foreign troops to help, including from Russia.

The unrest doesn’t bode well for his mentor. Nazarbayev, now 81, hasn’t been heard from throughout the protests. One of his most important henchmen, Karim Masimov, a former prime minister and head of the security services, has been sacked and arrested. Tokayev seems to have emerged as his own man – and to be in charge, at least for now.


Fuel to the fire A highly combustible cocktail
Zhanaozen, the town in south-western Kazakhstan where unrest began on January 2nd, has a history of resistance to the central government. In December 2011 a strike by oil workers about pay turned into a political protest in the main square. Security forces opened fire, killing 16 people.

This time the unrest there was provoked by a sudden doubling in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (lpg) from 60 to 120 tenge a litre (14 to 28 American cents). lpg is widely used as car fuel by less well-off drivers. It cost so much less than petrol that in recent years many drivers have converted their cars to run on it, sacrificing space in their boot for the canisters.


Lately, however, lpg has been in short supply in Kazakhstan: a government price-cap on the amount customers could be charged for fuel led producers to export lpg to countries where they could get more money for it. To fix the shortages, the government removed the cap.

The subsequent sharp rise in the price of lpg seemed to take everyone by surprise. Various contradictory explanations were given by the authorities: unexpectedly high demand; a shift to electronic trading on the international market; price-fixing by retailers. Whatever the true reason, it was plain the price rise was unsustainable. On January 5th price caps were restored for six months, for lpg, petrol and diesel. But by then, the fuel had already ignited.


Goody bag Did someone forget to pay for this Hermès Birkin?
When police raided properties belonging to the family of Malaysia’s former prime minister, Najib Razak, in 2018, they found $273m-worth of jewellery (12,000 items), cash and handbags – including nearly 300 Hermès bags, some of which may have been gifts from the family of Kazakhstan’s president.

In 2015 Najib’s daughter married a Kazakh man she had met while they were students at Columbia University in New York: the young man, Daniyar Kessikbayev, was a member of Kazakhstan’s elite and the president’s step-nephew. To celebrate their engagement, Kessikbayev had given his bride-to-be 16 chests of lavish gifts – an ancient Kazakhstani custom, he said. He was outraged by reports that it was his fiancée who had given him the presents.

His new father-in-law – who was still Malaysia’s prime minister at the time – was equally upset at suggestions that there was anything improper in the financing of at least three extravagant wedding receptions (two in Malaysia, one in Almaty). It was, suggested a spokesman for Najib, their “well-connected” new in-laws who had borne the cost, which included flying plane-loads of Malaysians to Kazakhstan.

The Malaysian prime minister’s touchiness was understandable. It later emerged that, during his tenure, some $4.5bn had been siphoned from a state investment fund, while the prime minister’s own bank balance rose by nearly $700m (an unrelated gift, he said).

For the groom’s family, too, unpleasant stories have been hard to avoid. In 2015 a retailer in New York brought a lawsuit against Kessikbayev and his mother, claiming that they failed to pay for seven Hermès bags. According to the lawsuit, some of the bags were for personal use; others were meant as gifts at the wedding of the century. The 19m Kazakhs without an invitation would be forgiven for feeling short-changed, too.


Capital gain This way to Nur-Sultan
Searching for a suitably sycophantic gift for his boss’s 68th birthday, Sat Tokpakbayev, a Kazakh politician, hit upon the perfect idea: why not rename Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, in President Nazarbayev’s honour? After all, America had its Washington; even Turkmenistan, a quirky isolationist neighbour, had a port named for its former dictator, Turkmenbashi. And “Astana”, which just means capital, was hardly dripping with historic import.

Tokpakbayev’s suggestion of renaming the capital “Nur-Sultan” was enthusiastically endorsed by almost all his fellow deputies (the others, one assumes, were inexplicably absent that day). Kazakhstan’s press was less keen. With inflation soaring and the economy in the doldrums, commentators wondered whether parliament might have had more serious things to discuss.


Self-effacing as ever, Nazarbayev declined the honour. It took years of wheedling from his loyal subjects for him to be persuaded that the new name was no more than his due. He eventually accepted it, like a gold watch or a greetings card full of embarrassing workplace reminiscences, as a retirement gift. He unexpectedly resigned the presidency in March 2019, to retreat to a life of behind-the-scenes string-pulling as the constitutionally designated “leader of the nation”. The protesters in Almaty this month, however, were less respectful, chanting “old man out!” They, at least, seemed to think he was still running the show.


Homes sweet homes 399 Route d’Hermance, Switzerland
Even if you live in a land of snow-capped mountains and gushing waterfalls, it can be useful to have a bolthole or 19. This sumptuous villa overlooking Lake Geneva, which belongs to Nazarbayev’s second daughter, Dinara Kulibayeva, is far from poky: it covers 3,200 square metres and has an indoor-outdoor swimming pool and spa.

Geneva seems a favourite not just for this branch of the Nazarbayev dynasty, but also for the family of his successor, Kassim-Zhomart Tokayev. He served as head of the United Nations office there from 2011-13, and his son, Timur, has an apartment in the Swiss city.

Other parts of the Nazarbayev family have an affinity for Britain. On London’s “Billionaires’ Row” – The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead – is a palace owned by another daughter, Dariga, and her son Nurali Aliyev. They also own expensive houses in Chelsea and Highgate, and, reportedly, the part of Baker Street where Sherlock Holmes had his fictional apartment.

The first three properties were the subject of an embarrassing “unexplained wealth order” from Britain’s National Crime Agency (nca) in 2019, alleging that they had been bought with money from Aliyev’s father, Rakhat Aliyev. The elder Aliyev, divorced from his wife, was a former senior official. In 2015 he was found hanged in an Austrian prison cell, where he was awaiting trial for murder. In 2020 the nca lost its case and the properties were unfrozen.

The conspicuous consumption and wealth that has fuelled antagonism towards the ruling elite does at least mean that, if they’re forced to flee, the Nazarbayevs and their friends won’t be short of places to stay.


Crypto cross words A fast-depreciating bitcoin
Miners have long been drawn to Kazakhstan’s natural resources. The vast country – as big as western Europe – is famously rich in oil and gas, and is a substantial producer of coal, as well as copper, steel and wheat. It also dominates the production of uranium, the basic fuel of the nuclear-power industry. In the days after unrest broke out, the price of uranium rose by 8%.

But the global market that was most discombobulated by events in Kazakhstan was that for bitcoin. Kazakhstan is the world’s second-biggest crypto-mining country (after America), accounting for nearly one-fifth of global production. Its rise to ascendancy has been swift, beginning in May 2021 when China, a former world leader in crypto-mining, cracked down on the industry. Many miners shifted to Kazakhstan, lured by its cheap electricity – bitcoin-miners use vast amounts of energy.

They also rely on internet connections to other miners. So when the authorities in Kazakhstan shut down the internet in response to the unrest, the impact on global bitcoin-mining was dramatic. According to btc.com, a data service for the cryptocurrency industry, there was a 14% drop in the amount of computing power devoted to bitcoin-mining between January 4th and 6th, which contributed to a steep fall in bitcoin’s value.

If unrest continues, crypto-miners may be forced to emigrate yet again. That, at least, would be welcome news for many ordinary people in Kazakhstan who’ve experienced blackouts recently due to pressure on the electricity grid.


Mane attraction Time to call the cavalry
Kazakhstani art, literature and folklore teem with horses, fittingly for a tradition stretching back 6,000 years to the domestication of the horse by nomads on the Central Asian steppes. Tulpars, winged horses, are a key part of the national emblem. Both flying and earthbound breeds appear on denominations of the country’s banknotes. Horse products also feature on menus: koumiss – fermented mare’s milk – is a traditional staple of steppe life. So, too, is beshbarmak, a stew of boiled horse meat, served on sheets of pasta.

But for most Kazakhs, the notion of a nomadic life roaming the vast steppes on horseback seems so distant as to be almost unimaginable. Their country is the most urbanised of all the “stans”, with more than half the population living in cities. Ethnic Kazakhs make up 70% of the population. The next biggest group, at 18%, are Russians, some of them descendants of the 1.5m political prisoners held in Kazakhstan in Stalin’s day, or the 1.3m deported there as “representatives of unreliable nations” during the second world war.


The country’s representatives remain proud of Kazakhstan’s equestrian traditions, however, boasting of traditional games, such as kokpar, where two mounted teams scramble over the carcass of a goat; or audaryspak, where two horsemen wrestle, each attempting to unhorse the other. The nearest equivalents these days are probably found in Kazakhstani politics, where horseplay has become a little more violent in recent years.■

Simon Long is an editor-at-large at The Economist



从伯金包到比特币:哈萨克斯坦的六大抗议活动
对统治精英的不满将这个国家推到了混乱的边缘

2022年1月12日

作者:西蒙-龙

在1991年苏联解体后作为独立共和国出现的五个中亚 "斯坦 "中,哈萨克斯坦似乎是最繁荣、管理最好和最稳定的。其独立时的领导人努尔苏丹-纳扎尔巴耶夫(Nursultan Nazarbayev)一直担任总统,直到2019年;即使在那之后,他也是王位背后的掌权者。

纳扎尔巴耶夫操纵政治制度,通过镇压反对派和拉拢精英阶层来赢得选举,其中部分精英阶层变得富可敌国,包括他自己的家族。2019年,当纳扎尔巴耶夫从总统职位上退下来时,宪法仍然承认他是 "国家领导人",并且似乎通过安排一个柔顺的继任者Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev实现了平稳过渡。今年,这种舒适的安排已经瓦解。


1月,该国西南部开始出现抗议汽车燃料价格上涨的活动。骚乱很快扩大并蔓延到该国最大的城市阿拉木图和其他地方。总统的安全部队使用了致命的武力来遏制它:几十人被杀,数千人被拘留。托卡耶夫召集了外国军队来帮忙,包括来自俄罗斯的军队。

这场动乱对他的导师来说并不是一个好兆头。现年81岁的纳扎尔巴耶夫在整个抗议活动中没有任何消息。他最重要的心腹之一,前总理和安全部门负责人卡里姆-马西莫夫,已被解雇和逮捕。托卡耶夫似乎已经成为他自己的人--而且至少现在是由他负责。


火上浇油 极易燃烧的鸡尾酒
1月2日开始发生动乱的哈萨克斯坦西南部城镇扎纳奥津,有反抗中央政府的历史。2011年12月,石油工人关于工资的罢工变成了在主要广场的政治抗议活动。安全部队开火,杀死了16人。

这一次,那里的骚乱是由液化石油气(lpg)的价格突然翻倍引起的,从每升60坚戈到120坚戈(14到28美分)。它的成本比汽油低得多,近年来,许多司机将他们的汽车改装成使用液化石油气,牺牲了后备箱的空间来存放罐子。


然而,最近,哈萨克斯坦的液化石油气一直供不应求:政府对客户收取的燃料费用设置了价格上限,导致生产商将液化石油气出口到他们可以得到更多钱的国家。为了解决短缺问题,政府取消了该上限。

随后,液化石油气价格的急剧上升似乎让所有人都大吃一惊。当局给出了各种相互矛盾的解释:出乎意料的高需求;转向国际市场的电子交易;零售商的价格操纵。无论真正的原因是什么,价格上涨显然是不可持续的。1月5日,液化石油气、汽油和柴油的价格上限被恢复了6个月。但那时,燃料已经被点燃了。


礼品袋 有人忘了为这个爱马仕伯金付款吗?
2018年,当警方搜查属于马来西亚前总理纳吉布-拉扎克家族的房产时,他们发现了价值2.73亿美元的珠宝(1.2万件)、现金和手袋--包括近300个爱马仕手袋,其中一些可能是哈萨克斯坦总统家族的礼物。

2015年,纳吉布的女儿嫁给了她在纽约哥伦比亚大学读书时认识的一名哈萨克族男子:这名年轻男子名叫达尼亚尔-凯西克巴耶夫,是哈萨克斯坦的精英成员,也是总统的继侄。为了庆祝他们的订婚,Kessikbayev给他的准新娘送了16箱奢华的礼物--他说这是哈萨克斯坦的古老习俗。有报道说是他的未婚妻给了他这些礼物,他对此感到非常愤怒。

他的新岳父--当时还是马来西亚的总理--对于资助至少三个奢侈的婚宴(两个在马来西亚,一个在阿拉木图)有任何不妥的说法也同样感到不安。纳吉布的发言人表示,是他们 "关系良好 "的新亲家承担了这些费用,包括让一飞机的马来西亚人飞往哈萨克斯坦。

马来西亚总理的敏感是可以理解的。后来发现,在他的任期内,约有45亿美元被从一个国家投资基金中抽走,而总理自己的银行余额增加了近7亿美元(他说,这是一个无关的礼物)。

对于新郎的家人来说,不愉快的故事也很难避免。2015年,纽约的一家零售商对Kessikbayev和他的母亲提起诉讼,声称他们没有支付七个爱马仕包的费用。根据该诉讼,其中一些包是供个人使用的;另一些是作为世纪婚礼上的礼物。没有邀请函的1900万哈萨克人也会被原谅,他们会觉得自己被亏待了。


通往努尔-苏丹的资本收益之路
哈萨克斯坦政治家萨特-托克帕克巴耶夫(Sat Tokpakbayev)在为其老板的68岁生日寻找合适的献媚礼物时,想到了一个完美的主意:为什么不以纳扎尔巴耶夫总统的名义重新命名哈萨克斯坦的首都阿斯塔纳?毕竟,美国有华盛顿;甚至土库曼斯坦这个古怪的孤立主义邻国也有一个以其前独裁者命名的港口--土库曼巴什。而 "阿斯塔纳",仅仅是首都的意思,并没有什么历史意义。

托克帕克巴耶夫提出的将首都改名为 "努尔-苏丹 "的建议几乎得到了他所有同僚的热烈支持(人们猜测,其他人当天莫名其妙地缺席)。哈萨克斯坦的新闻界则不那么热心。随着通货膨胀率的上升和经济的低迷,评论员们想知道议会是否有更严肃的事情要讨论。


纳扎尔巴耶夫一如既往地自谦,拒绝了这项荣誉。他的忠实臣民经过多年的劝说,才让他相信这个新名字不过是他应得的。他最终接受了这个名字,就像一块金表或一张充满尴尬的工作场所回忆的贺卡一样,作为退休礼物。2019年3月,他出人意料地辞去了总统职务,作为宪法指定的 "国家领导人",退居幕后,过起了拉关系的生活。然而,本月在阿拉木图的抗议者却不那么恭敬,他们高呼 "老家伙滚蛋!" 至少,他们似乎认为他仍在主持大局。


瑞士Hermance路399号的甜蜜家园
即使你生活在一片雪山和瀑布的土地上,有一个避难所或19个避难所也是有用的。这座俯瞰日内瓦湖的豪华别墅属于纳扎尔巴耶夫的二女儿迪娜拉-库里巴耶娃,它绝非简陋:占地3200平方米,有一个室内外游泳池和温泉。

日内瓦似乎不仅是纳扎尔巴耶夫王朝这一分支的最爱,也是其继任者卡西姆-卓玛特-托卡耶夫家族的最爱。2011-13年,他曾担任联合国驻日内瓦办事处主任,他的儿子Timur在瑞士城市有一套公寓。

纳扎尔巴耶夫家族的其他成员对英国也有好感。在伦敦的 "亿万富翁街"--汉普斯特德的主教大道--有一座宫殿,由另一个女儿Dariga和她的儿子Nurali Aliyev拥有。他们还在切尔西和海格特拥有昂贵的房子,据说还有夏洛克-福尔摩斯的虚构公寓所在的贝克街部分。

前三处房产在2019年成为英国国家犯罪署(nca)发出的令人尴尬的 "不明财富令 "的对象,指控它们是用阿利耶夫的父亲拉哈特-阿利耶夫的钱买的。与妻子离婚的老阿里耶夫是一名前高级官员。2015年,他被发现在奥地利的一个监狱牢房里上吊自杀,当时他正在等待谋杀案的审判。2020年,nca败诉,财产被解冻。

显著的消费和财富助长了对统治精英的对立情绪,这至少意味着,如果他们被迫逃离,纳扎尔巴耶夫夫妇和他们的朋友不会缺少住的地方。


低成本交叉词 一个快速贬值的比特币
长期以来,矿工们一直被哈萨克斯坦的自然资源所吸引。这个幅员辽阔的国家--和西欧一样大--有著名的丰富的石油和天然气,也是煤炭以及铜、钢铁和小麦的重要生产国。它还主导着铀的生产,而铀是核电工业的基本燃料。在动乱爆发后的几天里,铀的价格上涨了8%。

但是,受哈萨克斯坦事件影响最混乱的全球市场是比特币市场。哈萨克斯坦是世界第二大加密货币开采国(仅次于美国),占全球产量的近五分之一。它的崛起是迅速的,从2021年5月开始,当时中国这个曾经的世界加密货币开采领导者对该行业进行打击。许多矿工转移到哈萨克斯坦,被其廉价的电力所吸引--比特币矿工使用大量的能源。

他们还依赖与其他矿工的互联网连接。因此,当哈萨克斯坦当局关闭互联网以应对动乱时,对全球比特币开采的影响是巨大的。根据加密货币行业的数据服务btc.com,在1月4日至6日期间,用于比特币开采的计算能力下降了14%,这导致了比特币价值的急剧下降。

如果动乱继续下去,加密货币开采者可能会再次被迫移民。这至少对哈萨克斯坦的许多普通人来说是个好消息,他们最近由于电网的压力而经历了停电。


马恩的吸引力 是时候召集骑兵了
哈萨克斯坦的艺术、文学和民间传说中充满了马,这对于一个可以追溯到6000年前中亚大草原游牧民族驯化马的传统来说是很恰当的。图尔帕斯(Tulpars),有翅膀的马,是国徽的重要组成部分。飞马和土马都出现在国家的纸币上。马的产品也出现在菜单上:Koumiss--发酵的母马奶--是草原生活的传统主食。Beshbarmak也是如此,这是一种炖煮的马肉,放在面条上食用。

但对大多数哈萨克人来说,骑着马在广阔的草原上漫游的游牧生活的概念似乎很遥远,几乎无法想象。他们的国家是所有 "斯坦 "中城市化程度最高的国家,有一半以上的人口生活在城市。哈萨克族人占人口的70%。其次是俄罗斯人,占18%,其中一些人是斯大林时代被关押在哈萨克斯坦的150万名政治犯的后代,或者是第二次世界大战期间作为 "不可靠国家的代表 "被驱逐到那里的130万人的后代。


然而,这个国家的代表仍然为哈萨克斯坦的马术传统感到自豪,他们以传统的游戏为荣,如kokpar,即两个骑马队在山羊的尸体上争夺;或 audaryspak,即两个骑手的摔跤,每个人都试图解开对方的马。如今,最接近的对应物可能是哈萨克政治,近年来,那里的马戏变得更加暴力。

Simon Long是《经济学人》杂志的无任所编辑。
您需要登录后才可以回帖 登录 | 立即注册

本版积分规则

QQ|小黑屋|手机版|网站地图|关于我们|七月天| ECO中文网 ( 京ICP备06039041号  

GMT+8, 2022-12-1 22:13 , Processed in 0.076532 second(s), 20 queries .

Powered by Discuz! X3.3

© 2001-2017 Comsenz Inc.

快速回复 返回顶部 返回列表