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Independence Day

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By Azamat Maitanov

It’s been over 20 years since we celebrate Independence Day on December 16. But since December 16, 2011 this day in our memory is strongly associated with the bloody events in Zhanaozen.  

What are we going to celebrate? The 22nd anniversary of independence or commemorate the oil workers who were shot down in Zhanaozen? But to rejoice and to mourn at the same time is impossible.

If we are going to celebrate Independence Day, then there is quite a reasonable question: have we really become free and independent during these 20 years?  

By celebrating this day we, definitely, mean that Kazakhstan became a sovereign country.  And we don’t’ need to prove that we are independent from Russia, in the same way that Russia is independent from us. Russia was the first to leave USSR.

I am talking about another, deeper meaning of independence. About independence from the totalitarian system, the collapse of which we are celebrating on annual basis.  

Our government remained, in fact, very much “Soviet”. It thinks and acts in the same way as 20-30 years ago. It still hates any contrary opinion, as well as civil and political freedoms.

It is still does not serve the people, the situation is reverse. The leader is the Tsar and God for its subordinates. The “Soviet” behavior could be seen everywhere: the same rigid imperious vertical structure of power, non-alternative elections, one dominating party, clan system, bureaucracy. The possession of the power or participation in it is an idée fixe (obsession) for the majority of people. Those who reach the top levels of power are mostly people with plebeian way of thinking.

Did our spirit, our culture, our language become independent during these years, if we still don’t have our own national idea and we readily absorb everything alien without even thinking?

It must be said, that there are certain areas where we succeeded, having surpassed even the “Soviet” past. It is public indifference, withdrawal of moral values from the public sphere. We accept legal nihilism, corruption and nepotism as a normal value. Our ears became accustomed to phrases like: “Well, our governor stole a billion or two. And who doesn’t steal nowadays? But at least he shared some part of it with people” or Why should I argue with the authorities, after all, I can’t change things?” Some people are comfortable with such “independence”…

On the eve of the Independence Day we again hear the voices of those who call us to forget the bloody December of 2011.

It will never be forgotten, as well as December of 1986. If we forget, we will lose Independence.

December 12 2013, 12:45

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