Kazakhstan: Watching a Society Fall Apart in Real Time

Riots in Kazakhstan
Riots in Kazakhstan

While I touched upon the situation in Kazakhstan yesterday, things have deteriorated in the past 24 hours. By watching Kazakhstan deteriorate in real time, we get an idea of what we might expect here or elsewhere when a society collapses. When the USSR fell, we didn’t have access to tweets, YouTube videos, and other first-hand reporting of events on the ground. A few details came out in the mainstream media, but much of the sad facts of societal collapse were never seen outside the former Soviet Union.

Here are just a few things that have been reported in the past 24 hours:


At least 18 police officers have been killed and more than 800 have been injured. Reports vary, but apparently one or two police officers have been found decapitated. This raises the question: When will the police stop showing up or work? When will the police join the protesters? I am sure that in every department, there are officers who will stand until the very end. I am equally sure there are officers in every department that will call in sick when they disagree with their job or feel it is too dangerous, even if it means becoming unemployed.

An unknown number of anti-government rioters have been killed. Estimates range from dozens to hundreds. There have also been mass arrests. How many of those arrested will never see the light of day is another question. Rather than quell the uprising, the harsh tactics of government forces may cause some rebels to step up their response.

Escalation of Force

Rioters are arming themselves to fight back, reportedly breaking into government armories to get weapons. They have also sacked a gun store. The streets reportedly look like a war zone with running gun battles. The government has brought out armored personnel carriers and soldiers armed with battle rifles to combat what they are calling terrorists. It appears the Kazakhstan government, or what is left of it, has adopted the U.S. tactic of labeling protesters terrorist, making a military response seem justified.

Speaking of soldiers, Russian paratroopers have reportedly deployed in Kazakhstan to help prop up the government. While Kazakhstan and Russia have always been tight allies, this will give Russia even more power. It will also be bad for the protesters because foreign soldiers will have no second thought while locals might be concerned about killing their fellow countrymen.

Protesters are protesting an authoritarian rule. How does bringing in Russian soldiers do anything but bolster the protester’s position? It also spells bad times ahead for the country.


Because the government has shut down the Internet to minimize online coordination by the protesters, many ATMs are not working. Some are taking advantage of the situation to rob ATMs and banks, knowing that police are otherwise occupied. From a criminal’s perspective, this might seem like a great idea. From a prepping perspective, you have to wonder if the currency will have any value when all is said and done.

Looters are also taking advantage of the situation, roaming downtown streets, looting shops and restaurants. This is but one example of why it is dangerous to live in a city when a breakdown occurs. We sometimes talk about the thin veneer of civilization being stripped away and living in a world without the rule of law. The situation in Almaty is what it looks like when that happens. You better be well armed, well supplied, and well barricaded.

Root Cause

Here’s a quote from the Wall Street Journal.

“Injustice is the root cause,” said Valery Mikhailov, a writer and former editor of the Russian language literary-art magazine Prostor, speaking by phone from his home in the city. “There is a hopelessness among young people who cannot get an education, cannot get a profession, cannot get a normal job and cannot make a life for themselves. They have no prospects, but they see the elite getting rich. It’s social discontent.”

The government, a single party controlled by the same man for more than 30 years, is considered corrupt by the population. Like Venezuela, things deteriorated when it became obvious those at the top were skimming money that could have been used to improve the lives of the average citizen. This, along with a host of other complaints, created resentment and anger. The 100 to 200 percent jump in fuel prices was enough for that volcano of anger to erupt. It’s going to be hard to stop things now.

What we can Learn

Situations Deteriorate Rapidly

One thing that strikes me is the speed at which Kazakhstan went from protests to running gun battles in the street. If you are an urban prepper, you need to get out of the city before the bullets fly. While the other guys are looting the drug store and the liquor store, load up your car and head for the closest highway out of town. The best time to leave may be at 5 a.m. when the riots have died down and everyone else is in bed.

I would not be surprised if the Russian forces lock down the city, stopping people from coming and going. You don’t want to get trapped behind the walls of what is going to be, at best, a police state, and at worst, a foreign occupied war zone. It is unlikely they will declare martial law in rural areas where there are no protests, but I expect it in Almaty and other cities.

At what point does this move from protest to riot to rebellion to civil war?

You Need Guns

When the oppressed have to break into armories and steal weapons, you know the country has strict gun control. While that may be the case in some U.S. cities, a high percentage of the population is armed and a chunk of them are also trained. I would argue that this is a good thing because it allows the citizenry to resist oppression, overthrow a corrupt government, and fight back should foreign soldiers be brought in to stop a rebellion. Whether you think Trump colluded with Russia or Joe and Hunter Biden are in the pocket of China or the Ukraine, when a president invites foreign troops in, you will know there is no doubt.

It also points out why it is important to have your guns, ammo, and training well before the SHTF. You don’t want to learn how to use a rifle for the first time when someone hands it to you, making you a target.

Whether you are a protester or simply need to defend yourself, you are at a disadvantage if you don’t have a gun when things get violent.

Support by Many

I do not know what population of the country is actively protesting and fighting, but based on the videos and pictures, it sure looks like more than the three percent who took part in our Revolutionary War. For a protest to break out into something more than a calm march, the protesters have to have overwhelming numerical superiority. Here, it looks like they did.

If much of the country supports the protesters, even if they themselves are not willing to protest, protests and fighting will continue. As the government cracks down and kills or arrests more people, some of those in the silent majority will step up and join the fight.

If you see protests by a fringe group, avoid the area. If you see a protest that grows and becomes a movement and sucks in more and more mainstream people, then you need to worry, and probably need to pick a side.

Societies Fall, Governments Crumble

Perhaps the most important lesson of all is that governments can be brought down by internal forces and societies can fail. This can lead to a situation where your area finds itself without the rule of law, where no one answers when you dial 911, and where you are on your own. That assumes the phone system is functional as we may lose Internet service and/or electricity and other basic utilities. Such a scenario can result in failure of the banking system and the currency. Crime will explode. Feuds will be settled with violence. Everyone whose criminal tendencies are constrained by the threat of arrest will indulge their fantasies. It will be ugly for many reasons on many levels.

Banks will collapse. Fortunes will be lost, and fortunes will be made. Some good people will die and some bad people will thrive. Your goal is to be one of the good people who thrive. That is going to take preparation and luck, or more likely a combination of both. As they say, fortune favors the prepared, so start prepping.