Emergency declared in Kazakhstan as fuel protests rage and government resigns


Local media reported the airport in the country’s biggest city, Almaty, was breached by protesters, while a state of emergency has been introduced throughout the country, state-run Khabar 24 reports. It will be implemented until January 19, with the news agency saying restrictions on movement, including transport, were introduced in all three major cities and 14 regions.

In the three cities, local administration officials came under attack, buildings were damaged and “stones, sticks, gas, pepper, and Molotov cocktails were used,” according to a statement by the Interior Ministry. A journalist in Almaty told CNN they were experiencing internet outage and lights appeared to be off in buildings near the President’s residence and mayor’s office.

The press service of the Almaty airport told local outlet Orda.kz there were “about 45 invaders at the airport” on Wednesday evening. “The airport employees evacuated passengers on their own,” they added.

The protests were ignited when the government lifted price controls on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at the start of the year, Reuters reported. Many Kazakhs have converted their cars to run on the fuel because of its low cost.

Prime Minister Askar Mamin resigned amid the protests, and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev held a meeting on “the evolving difficult socio-political and socio-economic situation in the country,” according to a statement published on the presidential website Wednesday.

Protesters and riot police in Almaty on Wednesday.

Tokayev said in a national television address on Wednesday that he will take control of the country’s Security Council — a move that seemingly sidelines his predecessor, the country’s longtime President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who led the country since it was a Soviet Republic until his departure in 2019, and has remained an influential but controversial figure behind the scenes and on the council since.

In a second televised address, the Kazakh President appealed for help from a military alliance comprised of post-Soviet states after “terrorists” captured Almaty airport, including five aircraft and are battling with the military outside the city.

According to state news agency Kazinform, Tokayev called on the heads of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) — which includes Russia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan — to help put down the unrest. Tokayev said a number of infrastructure facilities in the city have also been damaged. He accused the protesters of undermining the “state system” and claimed “many of them have received military training abroad.”

Eight police officers and national guard personnel were killed in riots in different regions of the country, according to Kazakhstan’s local outlet Tengrinews.kz. It also said 317 officers and personnel were injured, citing the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Oil-rich Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth-largest nation by landmass, has attracted foreign investment and maintained a strong economy since its independence, but its autocratic method of governance has at times prompted international concern and has seen authorities harshly crack down on protests, according to global rights groups.

The State Department’s 2018 human rights report noted…



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