Violent demonstrations in Kazakhstan, Asia, against the more than doubling of fuel prices were suppressed by government security forces. They claimed to have killed dozens of demonstrators in Almaty, the central city.

The bloodiest clashes took place in the face of attempts to seize control of police stations, a police spokesman reported, according to BBC Jan. 6. 

These riots were sparked by a 140% increase in the gas price, used by 90% of the country’s vehicles. 

In addition, another 1,000 people were injured, 400 of whom are being treated in hospital, with 62 of them undergoing intensive care. Twelve members of the security forces were also killed, and 353 others were injured.

The president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, imposed a state of emergency throughout the country, including a curfew and a ban on mass gatherings.

He also dismissed the former president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who held a national security post and, in addition, sacked the entire government. Simultaneously, Tokayev accused foreign-trained “terrorist gangs” of instigating the protests.

In this context, he asked for help from a Russian-dominated alliance of former Soviet states, the CSTO, whose chairman, Nikol Pashinyan, agreed to send Russian peacekeeping forces “for a limited period of time.”

The CSTO was created almost 30 years ago, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, as an alliance to counter external military threats.

For her part, journalist Hanna Liubakova attached a video to one of her tweets, of the shooting executed by police, apparently against protesters.

“Armed security forces are in Almaty. There are also armoured personnel carriers, armoured vehicles, and military trucks. Local police reported that dozens of protesters had been killed.” 

The situation of the residents is critical, many of them are afraid to go out on the streets, given the persistence of the shootings. They are also trying to avoid the numerous checkpoints and makeshift barriers blocking the entrance to the city.

There are long lines at gas stations and great difficulty buying food because shopping malls, supermarkets, cafeterias and restaurants are closed. In addition, the Internet continues to be blocked, so people cannot withdraw money or recharge their phones, according to the BBC. 

Although the demonstrations have been violently repressed, there are still worries in the international context about the possible existence of other political causes that may have driven them, given that Tokayev alluded to infiltrated foreign forces.

It adds to the alleged threats that Russia was on the lookout to invade Ukraine, an issue that has not ceased to agitate the international political scene. 

Kazakhstan’s inhabitants are predominantly Muslim, and the country borders China to the east, proximity that tends to be a source of conflict. But, on the other hand, the opposition parties have been practically suffocated by the power of the official government.  

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