Freedom of speech must be firmly protected by the European Union

On January 2, a series of protests erupted in Kazakhstan as a result of a sharp rise in gas prices, but also due to a long-term deterioration in living standards in a country that, although is rich in gas and crude oil, poverty and despair takes people out into the streets.

The corrupt and oppressive totalitarian government, led by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, called the protesters “20,000 bandits” and urged security forces to “shoot without warning.” Illegal detentions ensued, and many citizens were killed and injured.

Strasbourg: The situation in Kazakhstan (debate) – Speech by MEP Renew Vlad Gheorghe (19.01.2022)

For weeks now, people are dying in the streets of Kazakhstan. The biggest protest since USSR fell was violently suppressed, although the citizens demonstrated peacefully. More than 10,000 people have been arrested and hundreds killed.

Let’s have the guts to state the obvious: we are witnessing the same recipe as in Ukraine, Belarus, the protests in Russia. We know the culprits, we know the stakes. Not protecting free speech and the right to life even, ignoring such challenges at our borders is a moral and strategic failure.

Not only the Eastern Member States are threatened, but the entire European construction. If we stand aside now, we will lose the respect of our citizens. We invite enemies into our home, even though their attack has been going on for years. Through propaganda, fake news, through intermediaries that undermine European democracies from within. So far, Europe has only responded with conferences, speeches and coffee time. It is high time we acted firmly and unitedly, making it clear to everyone who is the leader in the region.

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