The rare public acknowledgment of trouble indicates the government’s belated concern over tensions underneath the ex-Soviet state’s placid facade. But it remains unclear how effectively authorities will address them.
Instability in Kazakhstan could have far-reaching consequences. It is an increasingly important source of oil and gas, as well as uranium, zinc and copper. The Northern Distribution Network that supplies U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan goes through the Central Asian country’s seemingly endless stretches of bleak steppe.
In the 20 years since independence, Kazakhstan has been one of the former Soviet Union’s success stories — avoiding the civil wars and rebellions that plagued its neighbors, assiduously promoting religious tolerance and ethnic harmony and recording impressive economic growth.