Kazakhstan is experiencing the heaviest unrest in its history. For a long time, Russia’s second most important ally in the post-Soviet realm was known as stable — so what happened?
Why are people in Kazakhstan protesting?
The Mangystau region depends on LPG as the main fuel for vehicles. Jumps in fuel prices also affect the price of food, which has increased substantially since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many Kazakhs run their cars on LPG, which in Kazakhstan is cheaper than using gasoline due to price caps. The government lifted the caps on January 1, arguing that the low price was unsustainable.
How did the protests start?
After a surge in the price of fuel, protests with thousands of participants were held in the Mangystau oil hub of Zhanaozen.
Demonstrations spread to other parts of Mangystau and western Kazakhstan, including the provincial center Aktau and the Tengizchevroil worker camp.
Police used tear gas and stun grenades to eject protester’s from Almaty’s main square early on Wednesday. The AFP news agency reported that there were more than 5,000 protesters at the Almaty rally on Tuesday night.
On Sunday, several hundred residents of Zhanaozen, an oil town in western Kazakhstan, took to the streets to protest high prices for liquefied petroleum gas, also known as autogas, a popular type of fuel. The protest wave has since spread across the entire country, with thousands joining street marches.
Demonstrators have also taken to the streets ofAlmaty, the former capital. A presidential palace was torched. There have been reports of protesters storming municipal buildings, police vehicles set on fire, armed officers out on patrol, shots and even explosions.
In a surprise move, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday vowed to address the issues driving the unrest. The acting government has resigned, and Tokayev has declared a state of emergency in the worst-hit regions of the country. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev accepted the resignation of his government Wednesday following violent protests over surging fuel prices. Tokayev named Alikhan Smailov as acting prime minister, according to the president’s office.
Earlier Wednesday, Tokayev had declared a two-week state of emergency in the financial capital Almaty and the province of Mangystau after protests broke out in several locations.
The protests on Tuesday came after authorities lifted price caps on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), allowing fuel prices to rise significantly.
The interior ministry said demonstrations continued on Wednesday when, “groups of citizens blocked roads and blocked traffic, disrupting public order.”
More than 200 people had been detained and 95 police officers injured since the start of protests.
When announcing his government’s resignation, Tokayev also said that the price cap would be reintroduced as a “temporary price regulation” for a period of 180 days.
Dozens of protesters and police dead amid ongoing unrest in Kazakhstan“Peacekeepers” arrived in the country after Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appealed to a Russian-led security bloc for help following failing days of protests in which dozens of protesters and at least 13 security personnel have died, according to Reuters. Government buildings were stormed or set on fire in Almaty, the country’s largest city, with thousands of arrests made on Thursday. The unrest comes after price caps were lifted on liquefied petroleum gas on Saturday causing prices to more than double, Radio Free Europe reports.
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