Kazakh authorities said on Monday that nearly 8,000 people were detained by police during last week’s protests, marking the worst turmoil the former Soviet country has faced since its independence 30 years ago.
MOSCOW-Kazakh authorities said on Monday that nearly 8,000 people were detained by police during protests that turned into violent incidents last week, marking the worst that the former Soviet country has faced since its independence 30 years ago Turbulence.
The Ministry of Interior of Kazakhstan reported that a total of 7,939 people have been detained across the country. The National Security Council of Kazakhstan’s counterintelligence and counterterrorism agency said on Monday that the situation in the country has been “stabilized and under control.”
The authorities have declared Monday a day of mourning for dozens of victims of unprecedented violence. The country’s Ministry of Health said on Sunday that 164 people, including three children, were killed in the riots.
The demonstrations began on January 2 because the price of a vehicle fuel nearly doubled and spread quickly across the country, apparently reflecting widespread dissatisfaction with authoritarian governments.
As a concession, the government announced a 180-day auto fuel price cap and suspended the increase in utility rates. As the turmoil intensified, the ministerial cabinet resigned, and President Kassim-Jomart Tokayev replaced Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had been the leader of Kazakhstan for a long time, as the chairman of the National Security Council.
One of the main slogans of last week’s protests was “the old man is out”, which is a reference to Nazarbayev, who served as president after Kazakhstan’s independence until his resignation in 2019. And appointed Tokayev as his successor. Nazarbayev retained a lot of power while at the helm of the National Security Council.
Despite the concessions, the protests became extremely fierce within a few days. The government building caught fire and dozens of people were killed. In Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, protesters stormed in and briefly occupied the airport. In the past few days, sporadic gunshots have been heard from the city streets.
The authorities declared a state of emergency due to the unrest. Tokayev sought help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which is a military alliance of six former Soviet countries led by Russia. The organization has authorized the dispatch of approximately 2,500 mainly Russian troops as peacekeepers to Kazakhstan.
Tokayev has stated that the demonstrations were instigated by foreign-backed “terrorists”, although the protests did not show any obvious leaders or organizations. On Friday, he said he ordered the police and the army to shoot and kill “terrorists” who participated in the violence.
In a statement on Monday morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan stated that peaceful protests across the country were “hijacked by terrorists, extremists and criminal groups.”
“According to preliminary data, the attackers include individuals with experience in military theaters in the ranks of radical Islamic organizations. At present, the law enforcement agencies and armed forces of Kazakhstan are facing terrorists, rather than’peaceful protesters’ misrepresented by some foreign media. ,” the statement said.
The National Security Council said on Monday that the country’s “hot spots of terrorist threats” have been “eliminated”.