Kazakhstan protests: president threatens ruthless crackdown | Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s president has threatened to crack down ruthlessly on protests ongoing throughout the nation, claiming the unrest has led to deaths and accidents amongst legislation enforcement officers.

“As the top of state … I plan to behave as toughly as potential,” stated Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in a televised tackle on Wednesday afternoon. “This can be a query of the security of our nation. I’m sure that the individuals will assist me,” he added, saying he had no plans to flee the nation’s capital.

Earlier on Wednesday, Tokayev accepted the resignation of the federal government and launched a state of emergency in a number of provinces in an try to claw again management over the scenario, however the strikes failed to discourage indignant crowds.

The protests started within the west of the nation on the weekend, sparked by a pointy rise in gasoline costs, however have unfold rapidly and brought each the nation’s authorities and worldwide observers abruptly.


In Almaty, the nation’s industrial capital and largest metropolis, there have been violent clashes between police and demonstrators and the mayoralty was set on hearth, with smoke and flames seen from a number of flooring of the imposing constructing.

In different cities, together with Aktobe within the west of the nation, crowds tried to storm authorities buildings. There have been studies and movies of police automobiles set on hearth and safety autos seized by the group.

“The authorities try every thing to calm issues down, with a mixture of guarantees and threats, however thus far it’s not working,” stated Dosym Satpayev, an Almaty-based political analyst. “There might be imitations of dialogue however primarily the regime will reply with pressure, as a result of they haven’t any different instruments.”

Smoke rises from the city hall in Almaty
Smoke rises from the town corridor in Almaty. {Photograph}: Yan Blagov/AP

Tokayev has blamed the protests on “harmful people who wish to undermine the steadiness and unity of our society”.

At occasions, authorities have shut down cell web and blocked entry to messaging apps, and on Wednesday afternoon the web went down throughout a lot of the nation. Authorities stated military models had been introduced into Almaty to revive order.

Photographs of police being overpowered by protesters are prone to trigger alarm within the Kremlin, as one other nation neighbouring Russia succumbs to political unrest. Kazakhstan is a part of an financial union with Russia and the 2 international locations share an extended border.

“We hope for the earliest potential normalisation of the scenario within the nation, with which Russia is linked by relations of strategic partnership and alliance by means of fraternal, human contacts,” stated the Russian overseas ministry in an announcement. Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for Vladimir Putin, stated it was necessary no overseas international locations interfered in Kazakhstan.

The set off for protests was a pointy rise within the worth of liquefied petroleum gasoline (LPG), utilized by many to energy their automobiles, significantly within the west of Kazakhstan. They started over the weekend within the oil metropolis of Zhanaozen, the place in December 2011 police fired on protesters killing a minimum of 16 individuals.

It quickly turned clear that the anger was not narrowly targeted on LPG costs, and a authorities announcement that the value could be mounted at a decrease stage has achieved nothing to quell the protest.

As an alternative, there’s broader discontent with Tokayev, president since 2019, and his 81-year-old benefactor, Nursultan Nazarbayev. A former Soviet-era communist boss who turned Kazakhstan’s first president after independence in 1991 and dominated till 2019, Nazarbayev nonetheless wields immense energy behind the scenes. Throughout his rule over the resource-rich nation, a small elite has turn into fantastically rich whereas many abnormal Kazakhs stay in poverty.

“Nazarbayev and his household have monopolised all sectors from banking, to roads, to gasoline. These protests are about corruption,” stated 55-year-old Zauresh Shekenova, who has been protesting in Zhanaozen since Sunday.

“It began with the rise in gasoline costs however the true reason behind the protests is poor residing circumstances of individuals, excessive costs, joblessness, corruption,” she added.


Tokayev declared a state of emergency in giant elements of the nation in a single day, however this didn’t cease crowds coming onto the streets on Wednesday.

Darkhan Sharipov, an activist from the civil society motion Wake Up, Kazakhstan, stated a bunch of about 70 activists had set off to march to the centre of Almaty on Tuesday evening, however a lot of them had been detained and held at a police station for a number of hours.

“Persons are sick of corruption and nepotism, and the authorities don’t hearken to individuals … We wish President Tokayev to hold out actual political reforms, or to go away and maintain truthful elections,” he stated.

Whereas it’s clear there’s widespread discontent within the nation, the cleaning of the political taking part in area over a few years means there aren’t any high-profile opposition figures round which a protest motion might unite. As an alternative, the protests seem largely directionless

“There are some native figures, however no one who might unify forces throughout the nation, although with time they might seem,” stated Satpayev.

The 5 former Soviet Central Asian republics have been largely devoid of protest of their three many years of independence, aside from Kyrgyzstan, which has had a number of revolutions. The opposite 4 have been dominated by autocrats who’ve ruthlessly cracked down on any signal of protest. Nazarbayev was as soon as thought-about essentially the most canny of those rulers and was extensively well-liked, however over time the dearth of financial progress or political reform has led to rising discontent.

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