Kazakh president fails to quell protests 8 deaths reported
Former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan’s president requested assistance from a Russian-led security bloc on Thursday after demonstrations left eight security officers killed and government facilities set on fire.
Demonstrators in Kazakhstan have taken to the streets and occupied government buildings to express their displeasure with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s predecessor, former President Nursultan Nazarbayev. After almost three decades in power, he decided to step down in 2019.
The oil and metals sectors in Central Asia have attracted hundreds of billions of dollars in international investment because of the country’s reputation for stability under Nazarbayev.
Despite this, a younger generation is clamoring for the kind of reforms that have been implemented in other former Soviet satellite republics.
According to Russia’s Sputnik news agency, eight police and national guard servicemen were murdered on Tuesday and Wednesday during demonstrations in Kazakhstan, which is five times the size of France and has a population of roughly 19 million people.
On Wednesday, Tokayev fired Nazarbayev as chairman of the national security council and took it over himself, apparently to soothe popular ire. Nazarbayev’s nephew was removed from his nephew’s post on the State Security Committee, which is a successor to the Soviet-era KGB, and a new head of the committee was chosen.
The whole Cabinet of Tokayev resigned.
A person familiar with the situation told that activists have taken over the airport in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty. Flights were canceled.
Tokayev claimed he had called for support from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance comprising Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, in an early-morning television address on Thursday.
At Almaty airport, he said foreign-trained “terrorist” groups had seized five planes, some of them foreign, as well as equipment and weaponry.
For Tokayev, it is an assault on residents who are pleading with him to assist them, and it undermines the integrity of the state as a whole.
For this reason, we must… take all feasible measures to preserve our state. Almaty was assaulted, demolished, and damaged. Its citizens were the victims of terrorist and bandit assaults.
It is commonly believed that former president Nazarbayev (81 years old) is the driving force of the Nur-Sultan, the capital erected in his honor.
Much of Central Asia’s major economy is said to be under the influence of his family.
Since the demonstrations started, Nazarbayev has not been seen or heard from.
The majority of those demonstrators, according to an Almaty resident who mixed with them on Wednesday, looked to be from the city’s destitute fringes or adjacent villages and towns, the person added.
According to the locals, vodka was being handed out on the city’s main plaza, and other residents were debating whether or not to raid the city bazaar or an affluent neighborhood for probable looting.
“The streets are in full chaos,” he remarked.
Protesters were shown on camera yelling in front of a massive bronze statue of Nazarbayev, which seemed to be being yanked down by ropes. In the eastern city of Taldykorgan, a lady claimed to have videotaped it.
Earlier, a video feed posted by a Kazakh blogger showed the mayor of Almaty’s office on fire, with the sound of gunfire. The adjoining prosecutor’s office was also seen to be on fire in videos shared online.
Journalists saw thousands of protestors advancing on Almaty’s city center early on Wednesday, some of them riding on a truck.
Nur-Sultan, Almaty, and Mangistau provinces were proclaimed states of emergency. Internet service was disrupted.
Protesters gathered in Aqtobe, yelling, “Old Man, getaway!” A video showing police employing water cannons and stun grenades outside the city’s mayor’s office has been seen thousands of times online.
Immediately after accepting the resignation of the Cabinet, Tokayev instructed interim ministers to reverse the price increase for LPG, which had quadrupled since the beginning of the year. Cars in Kazakhstan run on gas since it is significantly less expensive than gasoline.
At least 14 demonstrators were murdered by police during an oil workers’ strike in 2011, and the price of Kazakhstan’s dollar bonds dropped by approximately 6 cents as a result of the disturbance.
It is likely that young, internet-savvy Kazakhs, particularly those living in Almaty, share the same aspirations for freedom as their fellow Eastern European neighbors such as Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyz, and Armenians, according to Tim Ash, the emerging market strategist at BlueBay Asset Management.
The Kremlin warned other nations from intervening in Kazakhstan’s domestic affairs, saying it expected the country’s close partner to do so promptly. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Russia’s claims that the U.S. was behind the disturbance were untrue.
Pressures on Kazakhstan’s economy have been increasing. The central bank raised interest rates to 9.75 percent late last year, the most in more than five years, as inflation approached 9 percent year-on-year.
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