Kazakh leader rejects talks, tells troops to “shoot to kill” because Russia helps end anti-government unrest

Almaty, Kazakhstan – Kazakhstan’s president on Friday rejected calls for talks with protesters several days later. Unprecedented unrest, Vowed to destroy “armed robbers” and authorized his forces to shoot without warning. Following this week’s protests over fuel prices, especially in the country’s largest city, Almaty, after the escalation of violence, President Qasim Jomart Tokayev had earlier said that order had been restored across most of the country. has been done.

“Terrorists continue to damage property … and use weapons against civilians. I have ordered law enforcement agencies to shoot and kill without warning,” Tokayev said. He said this in his third televised address to the nation on Saturday.

He scoffed at Western demands for talks with protesters, saying he was determined not to talk to “criminals and murderers”.

File photo: Protests erupt in Almaty over rising fuel prices
Troops are seen in the main square, where hundreds of people are protesting against the government, after authorities in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on January 6, 2022, decided to increase the price of liquefied petroleum gas.

Maria Gordiva / Reuters

“We are dealing with armed and trained bandits, both local and foreign. With bandits and terrorists. Therefore, they must be destroyed. This will be done soon,” the president said.

Energy-rich Kazakhstan, long considered one of the most stable in the former Soviet republic of Central Asia, faces this challenge. The biggest crisis in decades. On Wednesday, protesters stormed government buildings in Almaty and clashed with police and army, leaving 748 security personnel injured and 18 dead, officials said.

Tokayev said Almaty was attacked by “20,000 bandits” with “clear planning of the attack, coordination of operations and high combat readiness”.

He expressed his “special thanks” to Russian President Vladimir Putin after the Moscow-administered Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Sent troops to Kazakhstan To help overcome unrest.

Informal Summit of Commonwealth Leaders of Independent States
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) poses with Kazakh President Kasim-Jomart Tokayev at an informal summit on combating COVID-19 epidemic in St. Petersburg, Russia, on December 28, 2021.

Kremlin Press Office / Anadolu Agency / Getty

The Interior Ministry said on Friday that security forces had taken all areas of the country under “increased security” and that 26 “armed criminals” had been killed and 18 wounded in the unrest.

In Moscow, CBS News’ Maryam Alejandro said videos posted on social media showed frequent clashes in Almaty on Friday. Local media reported that government buildings were cordoned off by troops, who fired in the air to disperse protesters. Several local shops reported that bodies were piled up in the city center and authorities were slowly removing them.

Tokayev had earlier declared a state of emergency and called for help from the CSTO, which includes five other former Soviet states, which he called “terrorist groups” The country had extensive training. “

The first units of Russian forces arrived in Kazakhstan on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed, following Tokayev’s call for help on Wednesday. It marked the coalition’s first major joint operation since its inception in 1999.

A man stands in front of the mayor's office building that was set on fire during a protest in Almaty.
A man stands in front of the mayor’s office building in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which was set on fire on January 6, 2022, during protests over rising fuel prices.

Pavel Mikheev / Reuters

Russia has said it views the unrest as an “external attempt” to undermine Kazakhstan’s security and integrity.

The Interior Ministry said Thursday it had detained about 2,300 people.

Authorities say more than 1,000 people have been injured in the unrest, with about 400 hospitalized and more than 60 in intensive care.

Protests against the New Year’s increase in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices spread across the country this week with 19 million protests, which are used to fuel many cars in the country.

Thousands took to the streets in Almaty and the western province of Mangistau, saying price increases were unfair given Kazakhstan’s vast energy reserves, which export oil and gas.

Protests in Kazakhstan
Police in riot gear storm a rally on January 5, 2022, in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Vladimir Tretyakov / AP

The whole picture of chaos has often been obscure, with massive disruptions to communication, including cell phone signals, blocking of online messengers and hours of Internet shutdowns.

The protests are the biggest threat to the government set up by Kazakhstan’s founding president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned in 2019 and chose Tokayev as his successor.

Tokayev tried to quell further unrest by announcing the resignation of the cabinet on Wednesday morning, but protests continued.

Authorities declared a state of emergency until January 19, with curfews, curfews and large-scale gatherings.

The government on Thursday granted another concession, setting new fuel price limits for six months, saying “urgent” measures are needed to stabilize the socio-economic situation.

Protests in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstani Acting President Qasim Jomorat Tokayev, right, and former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev shake hands in front of supporters in Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan, June 7, 2019.

Alexei Filippov / AP

Most of the anger was directed at Nazarbayev, 81, who had ruled Kazakhstan since 1989 before handing over power to Tokayev.

Many protesters chanted “Old Man Out!” Slogans. According to Nazarbayev, a statue of the former leader was torn down in the southern city of Taldi Korgan.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price has warned Russian troops in Kazakhstan against taking control of state institutions and called on Western nations to exercise restraint.

“The United States and, frankly, the world will keep an eye on any human rights violations,” Price said.