Protesters break into the headquarters of a television station and set fire to the Almaty City Hall
The president denounces a “plot” while the EU and the OSCE call for dialogue
, 5 Jan () –
The President of Kazakhstan, Kasim Jomart Tokayev, reported this Wednesday that there have been several deaths and injuries in the framework of protests in various parts of the country due to the increase in the price of liquefied gas, for which he has called for calm to the population.
“There are already several deaths and injuries. The situation endangers the safety of all residents of Almaty and cannot be tolerated,” he said without giving exact figures. The city of Almaty is for now the main scene of the demonstrations, which have also spread to large cities such as Nursultán, the capital, and Mangistau.
The president has indicated that some of the deceased are police officers and has thanked them for their work against “violent groups.” “Unfortunately they have suffered casualties. My sincere condolences to their families,” he said.
Thus, he has announced that there will be a “strong hand” for the “violent elements that violate the laws” of the country. “As president, I have the duty to guarantee the security and tranquility of our citizens, to ensure the integrity of Kazakhstan,” he remarked after declaring a state of emergency in the most affected areas and a curfew from 23:00 to 07:00.
The head of state has stated in turn that he will propose reforms of the political system, but has not given more details about it, although he has denied the rumors that he is preparing to leave the country. “My constitutional duty is to stay with the people. Together, we will pass this chapter in the history of Kazakhstan,” he said in a statement from the Presidency.
His comments come after the government resigned, an issue that has not quelled the protests. For Tokayev, the demonstrations constitute a “conspiracy” and are based on a “plot” instigated to destabilize the country.
“The way in which the violent elements are coordinated shows that there is a plan of action of the conspirators who are motivated by financial reasons,” he stressed.
Throughout the day, a group of protesters has attacked the headquarters of the Mir television channel in the city of Almaty, where they have caused several damage, according to the media itself.
“The headquarters of the Mir interstate radio and television company in Almaty was destroyed,” said the channel on the Telegram social network. The employees have been evacuated with the help of the City Council and all are safe, the note picks up.
Hours earlier, a mob of violent protesters had tried to break into City Hall and the president’s residence, starting a fire. Videos broadcast by various media show the flames spreading through the government building and a large column of smoke.
The Army would have cordoned off the area, although several witnesses have indicated that the protesters have managed to cross the barriers. One of the president’s residences also reportedly suffered a fire.
Tokayev has assured that he has ordered that oil prices fall in the Mangistau region, in the west of the country, to restore the “stability of the country”. Thousands of people have been protesting since the weekend, while the director of the main gas processing plant has been arrested on charges of intervening in price setting.
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has clarified that the bloc is analyzing the situation “closely” and has called on those involved to act “responsibly and avoid any action that could lead to an escalation of violence. “
“We recognize the right to peaceful demonstration, but we hope that any act of violence is avoided. Furthermore, we ask the authorities to respect this fundamental right and use force in a proportionate manner when defending their legitimate interests in matters of security “, has indicated in a statement.
For Brussels, Kazakhstan is an “important ally”, as stated before requesting that Nursultán act in accordance with international law and respect freedom of the press and access to information. It has also stressed the importance of finding a “peaceful solution with an inclusive dialogue.”
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has called for dialogue in the country to stop the protests that have shaken the territory since January 2.
“I urge to lower the tension and begin the dialogue in line with the commitments in the framework of the OSCE,” said the president of the regional body, the Polish Zbigniew Rau, through Twitter.
Shortly before, Russia has condemned the violence that occurred during the protests and has also called for a peaceful solution to be found through dialogue. According to Moscow, the Kazakh president seeks to stabilize the situation, which is why he has defended the measures taken so far in the most affected regions.