Wednesday, January 19

The film of riots in Kazakhstan since Sunday

Here is the film of the demonstrations and riots that have shaken Kazakhstan since Sunday, triggered by a rise in the price of gas and which have left dozens dead and a thousand injured.

– First events –

On January 2, demonstrators, furious after a rise in the prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG), took to the streets in Janaozen (Mangystau region, west).

The demonstrations, rare in this authoritarian country of Central Asia, then spread to the large regional city of Aktau, on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

– Emergency state –

On the 4th, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in power since 2019, urges the population to “be cautious” and “not to give in to provocations”.

In the evening, the authorities concede a reduction in the price of LNG, without calming the protesters.

A demonstration brings together thousands of people in Almaty, the economic capital, with cries of “Resignation of the government!” and “The old man outside!”, in reference to the former president Nursultan Nazarbaïev, mentor of the current head of state and still very influential.

The president decrees a state of emergency in Almaty, in the province of Mangystau as well as in the capital Nur-Sultan from the next day, with a night curfew.

WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal messengers are inaccessible at night.

– Government dismissed –

On the 5th, the president dismisses the government. The interim Prime Minister is provided by Deputy Prime Minister Alikhan Smaïlov.

Police say more than 200 people were arrested after the overnight protests. Nearly a hundred police officers are injured.

– Town Hall of Almaty stormed –

Also on the 5th, thousands of demonstrators stormed the town hall of Almaty, despite the fire of stun grenades and tear gas from the police.

The demonstrators then move towards the presidential residence in the city, which they set fire to, just like the town hall, and briefly seize the airport.

The president promises a “firm” response to the demonstrations and announces that he will assume the presidency of the powerful Security Council, until then held by his predecessor.

Internet and mobile communications are blocked.

Russia calls for the crisis to be resolved by “dialogue” and not by “riots”. Washington and the EU call on the authorities to exercise restraint.

– Moscow sends troops –

The same day, the state of emergency is extended to the whole country, as protests turn into riot.

The president asks for help from Moscow and its allies, attributing the riots to “terrorists” trained abroad.

On the 6th, Moscow and its allies of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) announced the dispatch of a “collective peacekeeping force”.

Comprising Russian, Belarusian, Armenian, Tajik and Kyrgyz troops, it is responsible for “protecting state and military installations” and “helping the Kazakh security forces to stabilize the situation and restore the rule of law”.

– Tens of dead –

On the same day, the police, who launched an “anti-terrorist operation” in Almaty, said they had killed “dozens” of demonstrators who were trying to seize administrative buildings and police stations.

A thousand people were injured and 2,000 others arrested. The police report 13 dead and 353 wounded in their ranks.

In a new effort to calm protesters, the Kazakh government orders fuel prices to be capped for six months.

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