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Kazakhstan Unrest Explained: Current Situation & Reason for Protest

Shivam Dwivedi
Shivam Dwivedi
Russian-led forces have arrived in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s Government is experiencing the worst street unrest since the country's independence 30 years ago. Dozens of people have been killed, including citizens and police officers, as protests in Kazakhstan continue to rage. Moreover, thousands have reportedly been arrested in Almaty, and at least 60 of the hundreds injured are in critical condition.

What has happened in Kazakhstan?

  • Protests began on January 2 in Zhanaozen, an oil hub that was the site of deadly clashes between protesters and police just over a decade ago. Thereby, it spread throughout the rest of the country.

  • Security forces claim to have killed rioters in Almaty while attempting to restore order. Protesters, according to police, attempted to seize control of city police stations.

  • According to police, at least 12 members of the security forces have been killed and 353 have been injured.

  • Approximately 1,000 people have reportedly been injured in the unrest across the country, with 400 being treated in hospitals and dozens in intensive care.

What Sparked the Riots?

  • Protests erupted after the government lifted the price cap on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

  • Because LPG was less expensive than other fuels, many Kazakhs converted their cars to use it.

  • However, the government stated that it could no longer afford to subsidize LPG, and its decision to remove the cap effectively doubled its price.

  • The rioters, on the other hand, appear to have other grievances. Some chanted Nazarbayev's name and attempted to demolish a bronze statue of him.

  • Nazarbayev retained a strong position in government after stepping down as president, serving as the head of Kazakhstan's Security Council. According to observers, he also appeared to be grooming his daughter Dariga as a future leader.

  • In an unexpected move, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pledged on Wednesday to address the root causes of the unrest. The acting government has resigned, and Tokayev has declared a state of emergency in the country's worst-affected regions.

Current Situation: Russia-Led Troops Arrives

  • At the request of Kazakhstan's authoritarian president, Russian-led forces have arrived in the country, amid a violent crackdown on anti-government protests.

  • Without providing evidence, the president has blamed the unrest on foreign-trained "terrorists." On Wednesday, he requested assistance from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan, and Armenia are all members of the bloc.

  • According to reports, the overseas force sent to Kazakhstan consists of approximately 2,500 soldiers. According to the CSTO, the troops will serve as a peacekeeping force, protecting state and military installations. According to the Russian news agency RIA, they will be in the country for several days or weeks.

The US State Department has stated that it is closely monitoring Russia's troop deployment. "The United States, and frankly, the rest of the world," a spokesman said, "will be watching for any violation of human rights."

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