- Sputnik International, 1920, 06.01.2022
Protests in Kazakhstan
On 2 January, Kazakhstan was hit by protests in the wake of a spike in fuel prices. The riots turned violent on 4 January, leading to clashes between protesters and the police, looting, killings, and deepening insecurity. The president has declared a nationwide state of emergency.

Kazakhstan’s Minister of Internal Affairs Details High Level of Organisation Among Rioters

© AFP 2022 / ABDUAZIZ MADYAROVServicemen and their military vehicles block a street in central Almaty on January 7, 2022, after violence that erupted following protests over hikes in fuel prices
Servicemen and their military vehicles block a street in central Almaty on January 7, 2022, after violence that erupted following protests over hikes in fuel prices - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.01.2022
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Kazakhstan was overwhelmed by street demonstrations last week over the overnight doubling of gas prices. The protest rapidly turned deadly in some areas, with the government reporting incidents of extreme violence against law enforcement – including at least two beheadings. Authorities estimate at least 164 people have been killed to date.
Participants in riots across Kazakhstan have acted in a highly organized manner, demonstrating a level of skill and discipline in their actions, acting Internal Affairs minister Yerlan Turgumbayev has said.

“Across the board, protesters demonstrated their professional skills. Discipline and orderliness were notable in their actions. In the areas where they were situated and before attacks, street video surveillance cameras were disabled. Roadways were barricaded, observers were stationed along the perimeter. They used radios to coordinate their actions,” Turgumbayev said in an address aired by Kazakhstan’s Khabar 24 news channel on Sunday.

Turgumbayev noted that in the city of Almaty – the former capital city and one of the epicentres of the violence, rioters enjoyed numerical superiority to law enforcement, and were better armed, in violence taking place 5 January.
“Large groups of protesters in different parts of the city attacked patrol squads. They took control of seven gun shops and seized weapons and ammunition. They seized public transport and municipal vehicles and used them to ram squads of law enforcement. They threw homemade incendiary mixtures and fired guns at police. They burned service vehicles, including fire engines,” Turgumbayev added.
The rioters also prevented ambulances from entering the conflict zone and evacuating the injured, according to the official.
On 5 January, Turgumbayev said, a highly organized group of about 20,000 people concentrated in the centre of Almaty in an attempt to take control of the city administration building.

“They were better armed and organized [than law enforcement]. Due to their significant numerical advantage, they managed to break through several lines of defence and penetrate the building. Under the onslaught of the large crowd, police were forced to retreat to avoid accidental casualties,” the minister said.

Turgumbayev said that during the course of the chaos, police, and military cadets stationed in the area suffered beatings and humiliation and were stripped of their special equipment and uniforms, and the administration building itself set on fire. Rioters were then said to use these uniforms to commit illegal acts.
The minister also pointed to failed attempts by rioters on 6 and 7 January in the cities of Taras and Taldykorgan to seize control of jails, and attacks on police stations and military outposts in Almaty and other cities in a bid to take control of weapons caches and military equipment.
Protesters attend a rally in Almaty on January 4, 2022, after energy price hikes. - Police fired tear gas and stun grenades in a bid to break up an unprecedented thousands-strong march in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, after protests that began over fuel prices threatened to spiral out of control. - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.01.2022
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Turgumbayev reported that 16 members of law enforcement have been killed to date and that over 1,300 have been injured. Over 400 vehicles, including 346 police vehicles, have been destroyed, with over 100 stores and banks suffering damages of over 87 billion tenge (about $200 million), he said.
As of this time, he said, 125 pretrial investigations have been opened for various suspected crimes, including attacks on law enforcement and property. 5,135 people have been detained, 134 of them on allegations of serious crimes. A total of 516 people have been placed under administrative arrest. Roughly 300 people are also being held after attempting to flee the country on foot or by vehicle, among them individuals armed with weapons of various calibres, large numbers of cellphones, high-value items, and cash in local and foreign currencies.
The official reported that as of this moment, the “situation has been stabilized” across all regions, with administration buildings freed of rioters and utilities and other services being restored. The state of emergency introduced by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday will remain in place until 19 January.
“Dear fellow citizens: I ask that you be patient with the restrictions, remain calm, observe precautions, especially in those areas where the anti-terrorist operation is taking place. Do not succumb to provocations and report all suspicious facts and persons to the police. In so doing, you will render great assistance to law enforcement in putting things in order in the country,” Turgumbayev said.
Unprecedented Unrest
The Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan was overcome with mass unrest shortly after New Year’s Day, after residents of the cities of Zhanaozen and Aktau in the country’s west took to the streets to protest a twofold increase in prices for liquefied gas, corruption, Covid-related restrictions and other grievances. The protests soon spread to other cities, including the former capital of Almaty.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev responded to the crisis by dismissing the government, taking up the post of head of the Security Council from former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and promising to take account of all the “legitimate requests and demands” of the protesters. On 5 January, Tokayev called on Kazakhstan’s allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization alliance to send forces to assist in “overcoming the terrorist threat” posed to his country by organized rioters and terrorists with suspected foreign backing.
A view shows a burnt car following the protests triggered by fuel price increase outside the city administration headquarters in Almaty, Kazakhstan January 7, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.01.2022
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Around 3,000 Russian troops arrived in the country on 6 January, with Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan also sending forces. These forces’ primary mission is to ensure security at major government and military facilities across Kazakhstan, but not engage in law enforcement operations against protesters directly.
On 7 January, Tokayev warned that any rioters, including the suspected foreigners among their ranks, would be liquidated if they did not lay down their arms and surrender to the authorities.
On Saturday, the Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told US media that Russia sees the situation in Kazakhstan as an attempt by external forces to undermine the security and integrity of the Central Asian country.
A Kazakh law enforcement officer is seen during a protest against LPG cost rise following the Kazakh authorities' decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas in Almaty, Kazakhstan - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.01.2022
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