Grenades, Tear Gas, State of Emergency. New clashes over Increase of LPG Prices in Kazakhstan

World | January 5, 2022, Wednesday // 17:12
Bulgaria: Grenades, Tear Gas, State of Emergency. New clashes over Increase of LPG Prices in Kazakhstan Reuters

Protests in Kazakhstan over High Fuel Prices

Protesters stormed and set fire to several public buildings in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city. Clashes broke out in the country on Wednesday between protesters and police, with police using tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesters.

The protests against the government of Kazakhstan continue for the fourth day. They erupted on January 2nd due to a sudden increase in the price of propane-butane, which is the most used fuel in the country.

Late Tuesday, the government resigned, which was accepted by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. However, protests across the country continue. According to official data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan, more than 200 people have been arrested, but according to observers, this number is greatly reduced. 95 injured police officers were also reported.

Late Wednesday, the country's president declared a state of emergency in several areas, which takes effect on January 5th and will run until January 19th. It includes a curfew and a ban on gatherings. However, despite the ban, local media reported thousands of people gathered near the town hall in Almaty on Wednesday.

A video posted on Kazakhstan's online portal zakon.kz shows hundreds of protesters marching towards the entrance to the Almaty mayor's office. His building, as well as the city prosecutor's office building, were set on fire.

Clashes were also reported in the northern city of Aktobe, where protesters tried to storm one of the local government buildings. The police there used water cannons and tear gas to scatter the demonstrators.

According to the Kazakh Interior Ministry, government buildings were also attacked in the southern cities of Shymkent and Taraz during the night.

Before resigning, the government announced it would reduce the price of LPG to 50 tenge ($ 0.11) per liter, and President Tokayev said in a statement that they were working for a "mutually acceptable solution to the problem in the interests of stability in our country".

Tokayev blamed the riots on both foreign and domestic provocateurs.

Journalists from Kazakhstan's Radio Free Europe service have also been arrested during protests in recent days. Darkhan Umirbekov and Kasim Amanjol were detained in the capital, Nur-Sultan, while covering the demonstrations.

Protests are rare in the Central Asian republic, which declared independence in 1991. In the last major demonstrations in 2011, 14 workers were killed when police tried to quell a protest demanding higher wages and better working conditions. This happened in the city of Zhanaozen, which is one of the centers of the current protests.

From the declaration of independence until 2019, Kazakhstan was ruled by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. In 2019, Nazarbayev vacated his post and appointed Tokayev as his successor.

However, Nazarbayev continues to control the country's economic and political processes as head of Kazakhstan's Security Council. As such, he is officially recognized as the leader of the nation and enjoys unlimited power.

/Radio Free Europe Bulgaria

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