Tens of deaths and thousands of wounded and detained in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, crowned the fifth day of protests that broke out against the increase in the price of gasBut as the hours went by, they turned into a generalized rejection of the Government, which responded with an “antiterrorist operation” supported by Russian military forces that began to disembark this Thursday in the Asian country.
Eighteen soldiers died in the protests Y 748 National Guard security and military employees were injuredaccording to data from the Interior Ministry, which did not provide figures for casualties among civilians.
Previously, the Almaty commander’s office reported 13 soldiers killed, two of them beheaded, according to the Russian news agency Sputnik.
“The rights and safety of civilians must be guaranteed. Foreign military assistance evokes memories of situations that must be avoided.”Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy
The number of detainees, meanwhile, rose to 2,298 people since the outbreak of protests on January 2 in the cities of Zhanaozen and Aktau, in the west of the country, due to the increase in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
A government commission determined two days later to lower fuel prices. However, the protests did not stop and spread to other areas of the country, particularly Almaty, leading to violent riots that included looting and burning.
The authorities decreed the estate of emergency until January 19 and the curfew that governs from 11 at night until 7 in the morning.
The president of the country, Kasim-Yomart Tokayev, denounced that the protests were orchestrated by a group of “instigators”, although he did not reveal their identities, and requested the dispatch of a military contingent from the Collective Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
“Any criminal action must be strictly repressed”Maulen Asimbaev, President of the Senate
The CSTO announced Wednesday that it was sending a first contingent of a “collective peacekeeping force”, made up of Russian, Belarusian, Armenian, Tajik and Kyrgyz troops, with the mission of “protecting state and military facilities” and “helping the Kazakh forces of order to stabilize the situation and restore the rule of law.”
Police said Thursday that “dozens” of protesters had died from the repression when they tried to take over administrative buildings and police stations.
The Ministry of Health indicated that more than 1,000 people were injured, of which 62 remain in intensive care.
Images disseminated by the media and social networks showed scenes of chaos, with shops looted and some administrative buildings raided and set on fire in Almaty, including one against the building of the district police department.
According to local media, dozens of protesters and 8 policemen have died
– DW Spanish (@dw_espanol) January 6, 2022
While, the Central Bank spokeswoman, Oljassa Ramazanova, announced the suspension of the work of all financial institutions in the country, where the internet does not work.
In parallel, the airports of Almaty, the cities of Aktobe and Aktau and the capital, Nursultán, are not operational after the cancellation of flights on Wednesday.
In this context, the president of the Senate, Maulen Asimbaev, asked citizens to unite around the president to protect the independence and statehood of the country in the face of massive protests and warned that “any criminal action must be strictly repressed” .
For their part, the European Union, the United States, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, expressed concern about the presence of foreign troops and called for violence to be avoided.
“Groups of criminal elements beat our soldiers, humiliate them, drag them naked through the streets, attack women and loot shops”Kasim-Yomart Tokayev, President of Kazakhstan
As a result of the chaos, the price of uranium, of which Kazakhstan is one of the world’s leading producers, rose sharply, while the prices of domestic companies plummeted on the London Stock Exchange.
The country is also a center for bitcoin mining, an activity that is also experiencing a sharp decline.
Failing to stop the violence, the Kazakh president introduced emergency measures to “stabilize the work of public services, transport and infrastructure”, reinforce the readiness of the security forces and restore the work of banks.
In addition, the export of certain types of food was prohibited to stabilize prices.
For President Tokayev, the responsibility for everything that is happening lies with “terrorist gangs” who had “received extensive training abroad.”
“Groups of criminal elements beat our soldiers, humiliate them, drag them naked through the streets, assault women and loot shops,” he said in a televised speech on Wednesday.
In recent nights, the police had fired stun grenades and tear gas into the crowd, but failed to prevent some administrative buildings from breaking into.
According to media and witnesses on social networks, the protesters went to the municipality and the presidential residence of Almaty, among other places, and set them on fire. Five television stations were looted.
Today it was impossible to get a complete picture of the situation in the country. Many journalists and witnesses could not be reached online or by phone, both cut off.
Dozens of deaths in clashes in #Kazakhstan
The social outbreak shakes the foundations of the Kazakh regime. Both opponents and police have died in the clashes
– DW Spanish (@dw_espanol) January 6, 2022
The protesters’ anger is directed in particular at 81-year-old former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled the country from 1989 to 2019 and maintains great influence over the current government. He is considered Tokayev’s mentor.
Kazakhstan, the largest of the five former Soviet republics in Central Asia and the largest economy in that region, has a large Russian minority and is of crucial economic and geopolitical importance to Moscow.
Because, Russia called for the crisis to be resolved through dialogue “and not with street riots and breaking the laws”. The United States and the European Union, for their part, called for “restraint” from all parties.