Sunday, June 18, 2023

‘Demonstrative Religiosity’ as Show of Support for Old Elites Re-Emerging in Kazakhstan, Kaznacheyev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 14 – Under former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, many in the elites and especially among its younger members engaged in “demonstrative religiosity” to show their loyalty to his regime and as a kind of behavior that would win them advancement, Maksim Kaznacheyev says.

            Such behavior, which took the form of aping Muslim practices not from the Kazakh past but from the Gulf states, faded after the coming to power of the current Kazakhstan President, Kasym-Jomart Tokayev, and the failed revolt against him, the ethnic Russian commentator from Kazakhstan says (

            But now, Kaznacheyev says, it is re-emerging not only about the elite in general but also and especially among young Kazakhs who have concluded that such displays will tell the old elites now in opposition to Tokayev that they are with them and ensure promotion for these young people.

            “There must not be any illusions” that the ebbing of such practices after the January 2022 events marks the end of the story, he continues. “The Kazakhstan administrative vertical and force bloc are filled with ‘sleeping cells’ which will become active at the command of ‘the old elites.’”

            According to Kaznacheyev, “approximately 75 percent” of young Kazakhs view such demonstrative religiosity as a way of defining who they are and who they are not and the best possible way of winning preferment from the old elites who remain opposed to the secular agenda of Tokayev.

            As a result, he continues, social and political life in Kazakhstan is likely to become increasingly archaic at an accelerated pace. And that means, he says, that a new attempt at overthrowing the current president by massive demonstrations and ultimately moves toward transforming Kazakhstan into another Taliban-style country.


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