Russia, China, and Iran Close Ranks Amid Unrest in Kazakhstan
Bottom Line Up Front:
- Russia’s focus on the success of the CSTO’s intervention conveys its role as power broker in Central Asia.
- Unfavorable coverage of Nazarbayev and an increasingly positive portrayal of Tokayev demonstrates Russia’s support for Takoyev’s marginalization of the Nazerbayev clique during the unrest.
- Russian leaders explicitly accused the West of fomenting the unrest, citing “external interference” in their justification for intervention
- China parroted the Russian narrative with Xi referring to the unrest as a “color revolution” and CCP publications calling the protests “acts of terror”
- Russia declared victory in Kazakhstan following the deployment of CSTO forces to quell unrest. Russian senator Vladimir Dzhabarov called the protests a “color revolution” and Russian media lauded the CSTO role in suppressing a “new type of rebellion”.
What Russia Said About Kazakh Leadership:
- Kazakh President Tokayev was given the spotlight in Russian media as the primary individual responsible for returning order to Kazakhstan. Russia’s favorable portrayal of President Tokayev cast the leader as one determined to honor the demands for peace by the people of Kazakhstan.
- In coverage of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian media blamed him for creating the economic conditions that led to the protests and suggested individuals close to Nazarbayev were involved in a seizure of power.
What China Said:
- China congratulated Russia on a successful intervention in Kazakhstan and quoted the Kazakh Foreign Minister who called the protests an act of terror.
- Chinese media published multiple posts on the detainment of former National Intelligence Chief Karim Massimov under charges of forcibly seizing power, but did not otherwise comment on former Kazakh President Nazarbayev.
- A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs pledged economic support to restore stability to Kazakhstan.
What Iran Said:
- Iranian media leaned more heavily on the notion of “US meddling” in Kazakhstan designed to derail China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Like China, Iran said the protesters were terrorists and bandits bent on harming civilians and causing destruction.
How are Audiences Responded:
- Russia’s audience was predominantly neutral in their response to coverage of Kazakhstan and its leadership, despite a mildly negative portrayal of events by Russian media.
- China published far less content on Kazakhstan than Russia, but similarly received a neutral response from its audience.
- While Iran expressed a neutral perspective in its content, Iran’s audience responded favorably to its portrayal of events.