The above quotation is strikingly applicable to the present day situation in Kazakhstan. In both the medieval time (when the nomadic Turks roamed the Great Steppe) and in the present day, people have depended upon a distribution economy. Nomads divided booty, summer pastures, winter camps and migratory routes; today’s beks divide oil profits, privatization trophies, TV channels and voters.
Production and consumption are the alternative methods to the distribution system. In modern societies, power serves the “production-sales-consumption” triad. In societies where the distribution system operates, power is everything, since all wealth comes from the distribution of the society’s resources; distributive economic systems foster autocratic governments. A person who exists outside of the distribution system is left out of society itself.
In fact, the exclusive stake on the oil pipeline is objectively profitable for those in power. Dividing the profits from oil sales paves the way to absolute power in the society of “absolute happiness”.(in Kazakhstan this conjures up an image of an “oil derrick with a booth next to it”). Some people in Kazakhstan talk of a new Kuwait, others exclaim that the country is heading “backward to the Middle Ages.” Now, centuries after the Turkic Kaganates ruled the territory of Central Asia, there are new states, but these new states are of the old type: in other words Central Asian Africanates have appeared. In Africanate countries the society is always and unavoidably divided into two groups: the very rich and the very poor. Bilge-kagan, whose daughter Suluk married, fixed these words in stone: “Oh, Turkic beks and people!” Later the White Bone (Ak suiek) and the Black Bone (Kara suiek) succeeded the medieval Kazakhs. Today in modern Kazakhstan the division into the “elite” and “the rest” is obvious.
The economic system of the nomadic Turkic community which was passed down through the centuries over the Great Steppe, is the eternal distribution system. This system became even more fixed in the genetic code by during the Soviet period; this system tightly binds the country to the mediaeval standards. Power and the aspiration for power were paramount during these times and this focus on power remains as the pivot of the current distribution system.
This aspiration for power is especially important in modern rural Kazakh society. Power, or the dream of power is practically the hope for those hoping to survive in the destroyed villages; this desire for power and the pursuit of power are especially important to those hundreds of thousands of Kazakhs who were forced to move to town.
However, the modern Kazakhstani elite is already not as homogenous, as it was during the time of Turkic beks. People from traditional Kazakh families oppose “Russians” or “new” Kazakhs, who are much better educated. The outcome of this conflict may determine the fate of modern Kazakhstan.
New Kazakhs do not need power to survive, though power is useful as the strive to protect their businesses and as they attempt to learn the normal rules of the market game. For their opponents however, power is, as Vladimir Iliych said, survival; this is how it was in old times of the Party and in the Turkic period. Followers of the old ways do not need any rules, as they follow traditions. The number of traditional Kazakhs is increasing, while of the number of new Kazakhs is decreasing. Who will win? Or will a street-cleaner come along and disperse everybody?
This struggle appears at a time when representatives of the Russian population are practically absent from the power structure of the country. Moreover, the Russians are being pushed out of the country. The Russian population has the ability to influence the result of the tradition’s opposition to rules.
The article will discuss Kazakhs and power today and in the Middle Ages; the article will explore the issue of the disconnection of the powerful elite from the rest of society and it will address issues concerning traditions and rules and the how these issues might affect the future of the country.
1 “Kazakhstan. Chronicle of three milleniums.” By S.G. Klyashtorny and T.I. Sultanov, p.141-142.
You can read the full variant of the article in The Energy of Kazakhstan magazine #1, 2000, which will be published soon. You can buy the magazine in Ramstore hyper-market, the KIMEP, The Regent Almaty/The Ankara in Kazakhstan, The Hyatt-Regency Hotel and at the filling stations Texaco and Hurricane.
ALMATY, Feb 22
On Tuesday inhabitants of the Almaty micro-district Samal openly spoke against the filling station Texaco and actions by the companies Rambutya and Samal Properties.
People who live near the filling station complain to this close neighborhood. According to these people, the distance to the nearest house is 6 meters. They also do not like the petrol smell and exhaust gas. People stated that spur ways to dwelling houses are often blocked. Due to the opening of the filling station a year and a half ago, the number of accidents increased. Now people demand to close the filling station.
Supporting protesting citizens, the ASaP (Association of Sociologists and Political Scientists) President Bakhytzhamal Bekturganova announced that “the region around the filling station became a hostage”, as the city Akimat sanctioned the construction. According to citizens, nobody warned them that they planned to construct the filling station. We may understand people living nearby the filling station. On the other hand, Texaco is on of the modern filling stations (e.g. in the U.S.A. not each station is equipped so wonderfully). There are a lot of filling stations in the town, which seriously infringe ecological standards. Against the background of these filling stations, Texaco seems better. Moreover, for the period of its operation it has earned a lot to the city budget – it serves 700 to 1,500 cars per day. Of course, this does not improve the ecological situation in the region, however, the entire city suffers from pollution, especially those houses located near motorways.
THE GLOBE called the Texaco manager Lysenko, but he did not comment on the situation. He just said that soon they, most probably, will hold a press conference. THE GLOBE will follow the further events.
Another groups of citizens living in private houses below Ramstore market protests against conditions of eviction on which the above-mentioned companies persist on. They plan to build a road here, hence, old houses are to be demolished. Citizens are dissatisfied by the size of the compensation offered to them. One of the inhabitants of the private house Galina Slavnova who has two grown-up children was offered US$ 14,000. However, she rejects pretending to either a bigger amount or a flat in Samal that is one of the most expensive regions in Almaty.
“Amounts proposed to people are confirmed by the district court initiated by the companies according to the Akimat’s decree. They evaluate accommodations themselves – the Rambutya official Iskakov. It appears that the buyer and the seller decided everything instead of us. At first the judge told me that I have the right for a 3-rooms flat. But can I buy a flat in Samal at this price, asks Slavnova.
Another woman states that her neighbors were literally forced to agree with the demolition. “They offer us US$ 18,000. Today 15 people live in my house. For these years my family has increased: children, grandchildren. We are quite satisfied with out house. We will not agree with their conditions,” she added.
Besides, they say that since 1998 their property was under arrest due to the demolition. Now they can neither sell nor privatize the land.
Thus, according to Bekturganova, the eviction has transformed from voluntary to forced one.
The situation is quite knotty. On one hand, people cannot buy a flat in Samal at this price. But if this happened in the Soviet period, nobody would offer them a flat in Samal. Slavnova demands the compensation in the amount of US$ 50,000. Renat Iskakov, the Rambutya lawyer said this to THE GLOBE.
“The ratable value of Slavnova’s house is US$ 12,000, according to the legal expertise. We add US$ 3,000 as expenses towards the shift. Houses will be demolished only on the voluntary basis. For example, three flats (several owners live in the houses) voluntarily agreed with our conditions. The compensation is about US$ 20,000 per one flat,” he said.
The spokesman of the company said that he represents interests of the Akimat and Rambutya, as the JSC Blagoustroistvo will finance 50% of the construction and Rambutya and Samal Properties – the balance of 50%.
“We offered people to avoid the trial, but they did not agree. Now 5 families stay there, 7 families voluntarily agreed with our conditions. As far as impossible privatization of their land is concerned, they are guilty themselves, as once they did not do this, though they even did not have to submit vouchers, as their houses were completely depreciated,” he emphasized.
Another fact. A woman who was offered US$ 18,000 says that this amount will be not enough for her widened family. However, neither the Akimat nor Rambutya are to be blamed for her family became so big. While evaluating the flat, only area, construction material, etc. taken into consideration. Anyhow, this argument seems at least too unconcealed.
Accusations by Samal citizens seem artificial. Anyhow, we considered them to require comments by the accused parties.
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