The Nationwide State of Emergency Declared in Kazakhstan

By IndraStra Global News Team

Cover Image Attribute: Protesters march on the central square of Aktobe, January 4, 2022. / Source: Esetok, Wikimedia Commons
Cover Image Attribute: Protesters march on the central square of Aktobe, January 4, 2022. / Source: Esetok, Wikimedia Commons

By IndraStra Global News Team

On December 5, 2021, Kazakhstan declared a nationwide state of emergency, later it was extended across the country late in the evening. The decision (on emergency) was made after the protests over price hikes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which most Kazakhs use as car fuel. 

The latest price changes are the direct result of ongoing fuel market reforms, which were first broached in 2015, came into effect at the start of the month. It sought to remove state price caps for butane and propane - often referred to as 'road fuels for the poor' due to their low cost - while making sure the local market was well replenished. Previous subsidies had created shortages of butane and propane, despite the fact that Kazakhstan is itself a major oil producer. So, when prices were fully liberalized on January 1 (Saturday), the government expectations were that supplies to the domestic market would rise and help address the chronic shortages. But this particular move backfired, as prices nearly doubled overnight to 120 tenges per liter.


Initially sparked by anger at a fuel price rise with a small protest by dozens of people in the western city of Zhanaozen on January 2,  which led to massive nationwide demonstrations that ousted the prime minister and have protesters surging into government buildings and disarming police and soldiers. But, the protests have quickly spread to take in wider opposition to President Tokayev's predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, who retained significant power as “Leader of the Nation” despite quitting in 2019 after a nearly three-decade rule. Nazarbayev has been widely seen as the main political force in Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana), the capital which bears his name. His family is believed to control much of the economy, the largest in Central Asia. He has not been seen or heard from since the protests began. Footage emerged on social media which showed protesters chanting below a giant bronze statue of Nazarbayev, strung with ropes, which they later pulled down. Nazarbayev, who has been removed from his powerful position by Tokayev in a bid to placate the protesters, still has the support of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Image Attribute: Areas are shown in red, and cities of republican significance are shown with red asterisks, in which a state of emergency was declared on January 5, 2022 / Source: NordNordWest, Wikimedia Commons

As per the local reports, eight police officers and national guard troops were killed in the unrest on Tuesday and Wednesday, Russia’s state-owned Sputnik agency, quoting Kazakh media, later said two more soldiers had also been killed in what they described as an anti-terrorism operation at Almaty airport.

To quell the violent and deadly unrest, the Russia-led security bloc Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)  has agreed to intervene in Kazakhstan’s spiraling unrest, the first time in the organization’s 30-year history that it has done so. The request was made by Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on January 5 to send military assistance, which he said was needed "to help Kazakhstan overcome this terrorist threat."

These protests are the worst in over a decade in Kazakhstan, a country eleven times the size of the United Kingdom with a population of nearly 19 million people.

With reporting by BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Sputnik, and RFE/RL

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IndraStra Global: The Nationwide State of Emergency Declared in Kazakhstan
The Nationwide State of Emergency Declared in Kazakhstan
By IndraStra Global News Team
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