The president’s declaration of a state of emergency in several counties in an attempt to regain control of the situation failed to deter the masses. The demonstrations spread and surprised the Kazakh authorities and international observers, as it is a country that enjoys political stability.
In the city of Almaty the most violent clashes took place. Policemen confronted the demonstrators, also with hot weapons. The demonstrators set fire to the city hall building and documentation from the place shows smoke and flames bursting from several floors of the building. In other cities masses tried to storm government buildings. Social media videos of police cars being set on fire are being circulated on social media.
“Authorities are trying everything to calm things down, with a combination of promises and threats, but so far it is not working,” Dossim Satfeive, a researcher living in Almaty, told the British Guardian. He said they were trying to show that there was supposed to be a dialogue with the protesters – “but in fact the regime is reacting by force, because it has no other tools”.
According to reports, in some centers, authorities have disabled the Internet and cell phones, as well as access to messaging apps. At noon the internet crashed in a large part of the country. Army units were brought to Almaty to restore order.
The photos of the clashes between police and protesters are of great concern to Moscow. Kazakhstan is part of an economic union led by Russia and the two countries share a long border. Russia also holds its position in space launches in Kazakhstan.
“We hope for the normalization as early as possible of the situation in the country with which Russia is involved in strategic partnership relations,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said it was important that foreign countries did not interfere in Kazakhstan’s affairs.