Residents of Alma-Ata, representatives of various professions, about what happened and is happening in their city, where the situation resembled a civil war.
Entrepreneur Serik Jamalbekov:
The situation is characterized by one word: tin. It feels like the apocalypse has come, the war has begun. Everyone is at home, they don’t turn on the lights, they don’t approach the windows and dream that everything will be over as soon as possible. There are no civilians on the streets now. The worst situation is in the center, and in the Burunday area, for example, near Almaty, everything is quiet, even the bazaar was open.
We go out only for bread, for which we have to stand in huge queues – yesterday we stood for two hours. You can still buy groceries, but the most essential ones – milk and flour, for example. Rescued home supplies – vegetables, pasta, canned food. It is impossible to pay with cards, they are not accepted anywhere, and many ATMs are destroyed, and cash cannot be obtained.
Everywhere there is evidence of pogroms – smashed shop windows and street lamps, burned akimat, carcasses of burned-out cars. In the sent SMS – an urgent request to stay at home, an anti-terrorist operation is underway. Really scary. My 6-year-old daughter asks: “Dad, are we going to live?” Simple to tears. And most importantly, it is completely unknown what will happen next.
After the news that the CSTO countries, including Russia, were sending troops, everyone breathed a sigh of relief: glory to Allah. Finally, something has cleared up and there is a hope that the city will be rid of this horde crushing and plundering everything in its path.
There are several versions of what happened. Some say that this is a palace coup in which Nazarbayev’s nephew, a Chekist, is allegedly involved. That there were traitors in the Security Committee, and the events were prepared in advance. It is quite possible – with the support of external forces (America or Turkey). Others are convinced that Tokayev and Nazarbayev agreed to pretend that “dad” was being removed – too many were very unhappy with him. In fact, his clan will still rule. Although there is an opinion that when everything is over, after the clean-up, Tokayev will announce early parliamentary elections and make an attempt to carry out reforms. Otherwise, new riots may start.
And the gangs of young “mambets” 20-25 years old are directly to blame for the devastation of the city – in our country they call poorly educated seluk, for a couple of thousand tenge and a handful of anasha, they are ready to slaughter their own mother. They grew up in the steppe, most of them in large families. They live in communities, so they can easily gather without the Internet. Another question is who organized and paid for them.
Actress and screenwriter Almira Tursyn
I understand everything: it’s boiling, a lot of problems! I don’t understand one thing – why destroy our own cities, burn property, maim each other? So it’s not far from the civil war, and the people will suffer even more. In the early days, peaceful protesters came out with protests. Then marauders, robbers and thieves began to wield. And then there were so many of them that a hurricane began – they began to destroy shops and restaurants, rob. These are no longer peaceful protests, but rampant marauders who need to be stopped.
Nurman Saskibaev, PR specialist
It’s hard to imagine what hell the super-calm city turned into in just a couple of days. Like a swarm of locusts passed over it. In the center there are corpses lying around. True, I didn’t see it myself, I only go outside for bread. Stores are looted or empty. Shopping malls and banks too.
The niece living in the center has a real hysteria. There is shooting everywhere, crashing. She says that she saw through the window how identically dressed men pray right on the street, put rugs under their knees and pray. The worst thing, she says, is at night – they are afraid of every rustle and look forward to dawn. It is good that they did not turn off the electricity, water and gas.
But even on New Year’s Eve, Almaty was a peaceful festive city: shops were open, cars were driving, everyone was observing the law, and a normal life was going on, with the Internet and mobile communications. There were no prerequisites for real battles, robberies and a humanitarian catastrophe to begin in the city in 3 days.
I condemn bloodshed, marauders, rapists and vandals. They rob and rampage, but I am ashamed. They broke into the akimat and did not know what to do next. I recall school history lessons at school: revolutions did not lead to anything when there was no clear plan and decisions, but only attacks were made.
Unfortunately, there are not even real leaders in our country who could influence the crowd and calm them down. And this is chaos, which can only lead to the complete collapse and bankruptcy of Kazakhstan. Many acquaintances lost their business due to looters, someone’s cars burned down. Peaceful people sat in their homes, and non-people robbed the country, saying that they were tired of corruption and theft of power. But in reality they themselves made it even worse. Someone stole shops yesterday, and someone is standing in line for bread today.
The city has a huge shortage of food and long lines at gas stations. The Internet is constantly jammed, but, although it is unstable, there is cellular communication in different regions. Shots are heard periodically. It is completely incomprehensible how the security forces were able to miss this. They also have to keep track of such preparations. The fact that this has been prepared is indicated by the same scenario throughout the country, even with the connection disconnected. Apparently a whole organization was at work. And just a classic according to Lenin: take the post office, telegraph, telephone, bridges and train stations. It is fortunate that the CSTO troops have come, I hope that order will soon be restored. After all, for a couple of days the city was generally uncontrollable – there was no power or police.
Chess Grandmaster Rustam Khusnutdinov
When there were reports of riots in Almaty, at first there were no special experiences – it happened, and more than once, but the events were quickly extinguished. But then the situation escalated – videos showed the use of tear gas and the use of noise grenades. I realized that everything is serious – this had not happened before.
In the morning, checking the news and the first shock from the feeling that everything is just beginning. The mobile Internet was already disconnected, home wi-fi worked only through a VPN. It was immediately decided to withdraw money from an ATM and buy groceries. All stores had advertisements banning the sale of alcohol and accepting only cash. We went to look for an ATM, but some did not work, while others hung up.
We got to the largest shopping center Mega – it is tightly closed, and the doors are protected with wooden shields. Naively asked: “What is this?” The answer was almost predictable: “In a couple of hours, there will be marauders here. Getting ready.” It became quite uncomfortable. At that time, I heard, but did not see myself, that there were unprecedented queues at the operating ATMs, and a limit was set on withdrawals of 10 thousand tenge (about $ 25).
We bought groceries using an urgent money order from my mother and returned home. At about 17.00, the home Internet was cut off, and calls, and even then not to everyone, reached only inside the Beeline. There was a complete lack of information and ignorance of the situation. The Internet was given at midnight. The news shocked: the akimat (mayor’s office) is on fire, the airport is seized … And again it is completely unclear what will happen next.
Teacher Aliya Akhetova
There is an alarming stench over Almaty, the smell of soot and burning, which does not allow breathing. The feeling of civil war is enhanced by the columns of armored vehicles. And passers-by are given water and cakes, against the background of a complete shortage of food. Cars are not allowed through the barricades, they turn around and drive away.
Journalist Daniyar Adilbekov
The day before yesterday I lost my friend Saken Bitaev – the looters shot him. The bullet hit the lung, he died instantly, without waiting for an ambulance. According to his companion, they wanted to take the car in which they sat and talked. The crowd moved in from behind and began to open the doors. The guys fired, and the marauders fired after them. One bullet pierced Saken’s lung, and he is no longer with us. He was a talented director. The father of Kazakh hip-hop. Directed by God. Saken’s parents are unable to retrieve his body as there are not enough police officers to document the death. The perpetrators were not found either, and I think they will hardly be found.