State of Emergency in Kazakhstan as President Vows Crackdown
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State of Emergency in Kazakhstan as President Vows Crackdown

State of Emergency in Kazakhstan as President Vows Crackdown

A state of emergency was imposed in Kazakhstan on Wednesday after huge rioting brought the country to a standstill.

Energy-rich Kazakhstan, long considered one of Central Asia’s most stable former Soviet republics, is now experiencing its worst crisis in decades after demonstrators outraged over soaring gasoline costs attacked government buildings.

 

Government officials urged for calm, but also shut down the internet and warned that lawlessness would not be allowed.

State of Emergency in Kazakhstan as President Vows Crackdown

State of Emergency in Kazakhstan as President Vows Crackdown

Protesters were accused by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of “massive assaults on police enforcement” that resulted in the deaths and injuries of numerous people.

 

“I’m going to play it as hard as I can… We shall overcome this dark moment in Kazakhstan’s history as a nation, together “he said.

 

In the western part of the country, where liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is often used to power automobiles, there have been demonstrations throughout the country’s 19 million residents this week in protest of a New Year’s price rise.

 

Thousands demonstrated in Almaty and in the western region of Mangystau, claiming that the price jump was unjust considering Kazakhstan’s massive oil and gas reserves, which the nation is known for exporting.

 

On Wednesday afternoon, thousands of protestors stormed the mayor’s office in Almaty following a night of disturbance that resulted in the detention of more than 200 individuals.

 

Tear gas and stun grenades were used.

According to an AFP reporter on the scene, police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the throng, which was equipped with confiscated batons and shields.

 

Media reports in Almaty claim that demonstrators then turned their attention to the presidential palace there. There were reports that both it and the mayor’s office were on fire.

 

Unrest was reported throughout the nation, and the Almaty airport was reportedly under protestors’ control.

On Wednesday night, a number of flights out of Moscow bound for destinations in Kazakhstan were canceled or rescheduled.

 

As a result of widespread internet shutdowns, online messengers were blocked, and mobile phone services were cut off, the complete picture was obscured.

 

For the first time since Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down in 2019 and replaced him with President Emomali Tokayev, the demonstrations pose the greatest challenge to his authority.

 

By announcing the resignation of the administration led by Prime Minister Askar Mamin early on Wednesday, Tokayev hoped to avert additional turmoil.

 

An unexpected decision, considering Nazarbayev’s ongoing authority, he also declared that he would be taking over as chairman of Kazakhstan’s powerful security council.

 

However, the government said late Wednesday that a state of emergency issued in protest-hit regions will be extended statewide and in place until Jan. 19 as demonstrations continued to escalate.

 

A nightly curfew, mobility restrictions, and a prohibition on large rallies are also part of the deal.

 

According to a presenter on state television station Khabar 24, the limits are in place to “ensure public safety, restore law and order, and preserve residents’ rights and freedoms.”

 

Nazarbayev, who is 81 and has governed Kazakhstan since 1989, was the target of most of the public’s wrath.

 

“Old Man Out!”

In reference to Nazarbayev, several demonstrators chanted “Old Man Out!” when a monument of the ex-president was demolished on social media and photographs were shared.

 

Nazarbayev, a close supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, personally selected Tokayev to be his successor.

 

Located in Central Asia, Kazakhstan is one of the five ex-Soviet republics that Russia relies on for economic reasons and because it has a big Russian population.

 

A “peaceful solution… via conversation, not street violence and violation of laws” was urged by Moscow.

 

Both the European Union and the United Nations encouraged “discipline” on both sides, while the United States urged authorities to allow peaceful protestors to voice their views.

 

This country’s administration tolerates very little meaningful dissent and has been accused of suppressing independent voices.

 

Despite 2020 legislation loosening certain limits on freedom of assembly, spontaneous, unsanctioned demonstrations remain unlawful.

 

Smaller demonstrations began on Sunday in Mangystau County’s Zhanaozen, the first of several.

 

Mangystau’s hydrocarbon-rich LPG pricing sparked the uproar, which spread throughout the country.

 

 

 

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