Paratroopers from a Russia-led military alliance began arriving in Kazakhstan on Thursday to restore order after a night of protests in the Central Asian country turned violent, with the police reporting that dozens of anti-government demonstrators had been killed and hundreds injured.
The foreign soldiers were dispatched after the city hall in Almaty, the country’s largest city, was set ablaze, and the airport was overrun by an angry mob. The police opened fire on the demonstrators, some of them armed, but also accused them of killing 13 officers and leaving 353 injured.
The reports of deaths could not immediately be independently confirmed.
The protests were sparked by anger over a surge in fuel prices. Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Kazakhstan in recent days, the biggest crisis to shake the autocratic country in decades. The events are a stark challenge to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev less than three years into his rule and are destabilizing an already volatile region where Russia and the U.S. compete for influence.
Demonstrators have forced their way into a government building in Kazakhstan’s biggest city as rare nationwide protests that began over a sharp rise in fuel prices extended into the fourth day. Armed with clubs and metal bars, protesters stormed into the mayor’s office in Almaty on Wednesday.
As the crisis deepens, Kazakh protesters attack Almaty’s government agencies
The president is working to mitigate the anxieties and widespread internet power outages reported as demonstrations that began over fuel prices on the fourth day. 4,444 demonstrators participate in protests in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Protests in Kazakhstan initially took place over the weekend, triggered by an increase in the price limit for liquefied gas [Vladimir Tretyakov / AP]
Protesters broke into the government building of Kazakhstan’s largest city as the nation’s unusual protests, which began with soaring fuel prices, continued for the fourth day. According to local news site Zakon.kz, demonstrators armed with clubs and metal rods attacked the mayor’s office in Almaty on Wednesday.
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A Kazakh blogger’s Instagram live stream showed that a fire was burning in the office while a gunshot was heard nearby.
Crowds were seen outside the building against the backdrop of a stun grenade explosion reportedly caused by security forces.
Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered in front of the city’s presidential residence. Fires at the city’s public prosecutor’s office have also been reported. 4,444 demonstrators participate in fuel price rise protests in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Almaty police chief Kanat Taimerdenov added that protesters attacked 500 civilians and searched hundreds of stores, blaming “radicals and radicals” for anxiety.
Police, National Guard, and the military were involved in security measures.
More than 200 people have been arrested since the protests began.
On Wednesday afternoon, many Kazakh news sites became inaccessible. Netblocks, a global internet monitor, said the country is experiencing widespread internet power outages.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokaev, who accused foreign “provocations” of protests in a failed attempt to quell the crisis, released the Kazakh government on Wednesday morning and banned curfew in Almaty and its surrounding areas. Declared a state of emergency with a decree and movement restrictions. ..
After that, a state of emergency was declared in Nur-Sultan.
After the price cap for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) was lifted, dissenting opinions began to rise over the weekend in a vast Central Asian country about the same size as Western Europe.
Many Kazakhs converted their cars to LPG because of their low cost, but prices more than doubled after the cap was raised. Bruce Panier, a Central Asian correspondent for Radio Free Europe and an expert in the region, told Al Jazeera that recent demonstrations in the former Soviet Republic “surprised everyone.”
“As in these protests, they started for financial reasons … but soon became a political issue when people began demanding free elections for local civil servants and the dismissal of senior officials.” He said.
“They are trying to manage this as much as possible, but it will damage the reputation of the Kazakh government.”
Damage to windows during a protest caused by soaring fuel prices in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Vladimir Tretyakov / AP in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, was damaged by protesters during a protest.
Despite the government’s resignation, all ministers will remain in office until a new cabinet is formed-and it was unclear whether the move would lead to political change or affect growing protests. ..
Tokaev is now instructing members and the Governor to reintroduce liquefied gas price controls and extend them to gasoline, diesel, and other “socially important” consumer goods.
He also called on the current administration to draft a personal bankruptcy law, freeze electricity prices for poor families, and consider subsidizing rent. Russia, which shares a 7,640-kilometer border with Kazakhstan, said Wednesday that Central Asian countries were able to solve their problems and promote foreign intervention, the RIA news agency reported.
Moscow is very sensitive to the anxieties of the former Soviet Republic, which it considers to be part of its sphere of influence, and has accused the West of causing revolutions in countries such as Georgia and Ukraine in the past.
Protests spread nationwide
Kazakhstan is tightly controlled and maintains an image of political stability, allowing it to attract hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment in the oil and metal industries.
Public protests are illegal and Congress has been freed from the opposition.