Saturday, April 12, 2014

Random News Generator- Kazakhstan

Russia, as you know, is focused on Ukraine, and just how many chunks of it Vladimir Putin can carve out and put into Russia. Sitting due east of Ukraine, across southern Russia proper, you have Kazakhstan. The thought amongst observers is that any section of any former Soviet nation that has a significant ethnic Russian population ought to be worried that they might be next, but that isn't Kazakhstan's only concern right now. The country has a significant oil export business, hampered by Western sanctions against Russia. It's not so much who Kazakhstan is selling to as much as it's about the fact that in order to actually export the oil, it has to run through Russian pipelines controlled by Russian companies and get blended with Russian oil before it reaches the Black Sea.

The oil has to go through somewhere... and the second-best option for Kazakhstan happens to be Iran, an option they are currently considering.

Action by Russia against them, though, is enough of a concern that they're running security drills to be on the safe side. They've also rushed a new law into force, which allows the government to block or shut off a means of electronic communication without a warrant. The government already had this ability; what has changed is they no longer need a warrant to do it. What has also changed is that media reporters are now required to supply government officials with copies of their reports 24 hours prior to broadcast, which gives the government a full day to decide, nope, we don't want this going out and you have to shut down now. The intended purpose here, at least publicly anyway, is to nip any Putin-inspired pro-Russian separatist, independence or annexation talk in the bud before talk turns to action. (Of course, this doesn't prevent in-person gatherings.) Other, similarly reactionary laws are in the pipeline.

How much they'll actually be needed, what effect they'll have, and whether they'll be relaxed or repealed once the danger has passed, remains to be seen.

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