Riots in Kazakhstan: A state of emergency has been declared in the capital and other areas

President of Kazakhstan, Kasim-Jumart Tokayev, He warned today (Wednesday) that he would react harshly to the major demonstrations in the country after protesters set fire to the city hall in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, and a state of emergency was declared in the capital Nur Sultan and other areas.

Demonstrations in the Muslim Republic of Central Asia, one of the largest since independence with the collapse of the USSR in 1991, began after drivers in the western city of Genoa protested against doubling the price of liquefied petroleum gas used to refuel vehicles. 16 protesters were shot dead.

Demonstrations expanded to other cities yesterday, including Almaty and Nor-Sultan, despite the snow and low temperatures, and clashes were reported between protesters and police forces using tear gas and gas grenades. There were also disruptions to the internet and media went off the air.

President Tokayev last night declared a state of emergency in Almaty and other areas and this morning he accepted the resignation of the government and appointed Elihan Smileov as acting prime minister, in addition he set a new roof price for the liquefied gas. Tokayev declared the attacks on government buildings “illegal” and accused “destructive elements of undermining the stability and unity of the country”.

Riots in Kazakhstan (Photo: REUTERS / Stringer)

Despite this, protests continued across the country today with demands for the resignation of the president and the implementation of political reforms. Protesters set fire to the local government building in Almaty and public buildings in other areas and clashed with security forces. Some of the videos showed protesters also taking over police and military vehicles.

Following this, Tokayev delivered another speech to the nation this afternoon, declaring that he did not intend to leave the country “in any way.” He also announced that he had been appointed chairman of the National Security Council, a post held by former president Nur-Sultan Nazarbayev, even after his resignation two years ago, and threatened to have a “rigid response” against the demonstrations, noting that there were also casualties. Proposals for political change in Kazakhstan, “Tukayev promised without elaborating.

Kasim-Jumert Tokayev (Photo: Sputnik / Evgeny Biyatov / Kremlin via REUTERS)Kasim-Jumert Tokayev (Photo: Sputnik / Evgeny Biyatov / Kremlin via REUTERS)

Nazarbayev, 81, has ruled Kazakhstan since independence with the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Even after retiring two years ago, he is considered the strongest man in the country, but last April he resigned as chairman of the People’s Council and two months ago left. The ruling party Nur Otan, and yesterday he lost his last job with the appointment of Tukayev as chairman of the National Security Council.

Due to Kazakhstan’s strategic location, near the borders with Russia and China, events are being closely monitored in Moscow. The Kremlin said yesterday that the authorities in Kazakhstan did not seek Russian assistance in dealing with the demonstrations.

By Editor

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