The protests in Kazakhstan are the most extensive against the authoritarian regime in the country in decades. Photo: Ezetok. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


More than 160 dead and thousands arrested after violent protests in Kazakhstan

The last week's protests in Kazakhstan, which degenerated into clashes between protesters and police, have calmed down for the time being. President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev's order to the security forces to "shoot without warning" and the reinforcing troops that Russia has sent to the country seem to have calmed the situation. According to Kazakh authorities, at least 164 people have been killed in the violence.

On January XNUMX, protests erupted in the small town Zhanaozen in western Kazakhstan and spread rapidly to major cities. Least 164 people have died as a result of the riots and several thousand people have been arrested, according to the country's authorities. Banks and shops have been looted, cars destroyed and buildings set on fire. It is still unclear who the people who participated in the violence are. The protests are the most extensive against the authoritarian leadership in Kazakhstan for decades. 

The protests began as a reaction to the sharp rise in fuel prices, but is basically about a deeper dissatisfaction with socio-economic gaps, corruption, poverty and the authoritarian regime in Kazakhstan. The country has significant oil reserves and attracts large numbers of foreign investors, but the assets do not reach the entire population and the country is characterized by widespread economic inequality.

Fuel prices have been regulated

To demonstrate without the permission of the government is illegal in Kazakhstan. President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev has called for the protesters terrorists and refused to talk to them. He also said that the protests were another attempt a coup.

Despite harsh words from the government, it has given in on certain points. Last week announced the president that he has ordered the entire government to resign. One has decided to regulate fuel prices for at least six months ahead, which means that they will not be shocked.

But in a country without effective opposition and free media, the resignation of some ministers does not make much difference. The political elite still has an iron grip on the country.

To stabilize the situation, Russia has sent reinforcements to the regime in Kazakhstan. Moscow insists it is a temporary solution to help protect institutions in the country. But some, including US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, are doubtful about Russia's real motives.

The events come at a time when the world's eyes are focused on Russia's actions on the border with Ukraine. During the Russian-American summit in Geneva, which began on January XNUMX and continues during the week, Russian interference in Kazakhstan may also be mentioned. 

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