Demonstrations end in failure, dictatorship succeeds again in Kazakhstan

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 2017
(Photo: Flickr)

(ChinaAid, Midland, TX—January 8, 2022) In Zhanaozen, Kazakhstan, the vast majority of protesters dispersed, leaving dozens of people on the square. The following article was translated from Kazakh to English. Read the original article from Radio Free Europe here.

On the afternoon of January 8, Maksat Ibagarov, the city's mayor, came to the central square of Zhanaozen where protesters gathered. He promised that none of the participants would be prosecuted.  The majority of supporters of the mayor's statement left, only one group whose "demands were not met" remained in the central square of the city.

 The participants of the meeting said that they had been standing on the square for five days, did not cause any riots, and did not damage anyone's property.

 Many protesters called for peace, saying that the issue of rising gas prices, which initially prompted the rally, had been resolved.  Speakers urged people to return home, recalling tragedies in other parts of the country, such as murder and vandalism.

 However, one citizen, who was dissatisfied with the decision, complained that "[President Kassym-Zhomart] Tokayev and [ex-president] Nursultan Nazarbayev swore an oath to stay until the system is gone, you broke the oath."  A group of about 40-50 people promised to continue the protest.

 Protests against the sharp rise in gas prices began on January 2 in the city of Zhanaozen.  It was the last city to end the rally.  The rally in Aktau ended on the same day.

On January 2, people in Zhanaozen protested against the increase in the price of liquefied gas from 60 to 120 tenge.  Later, other parts of the country supported the protests in Zhanaozen.  Although the government decided the price of gas in the Mangistau region will be 50 tenge, protests continued.

Protesters demanded the resignation of the government and the return of the 1993 constitution, citing high prices in the country.

On the night of January 5, thousands of people gathered in Almaty's Republic Square to protest against rising prices.  Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, and flashbangs.  Protests continued overnight in other parts of the country— namely Aktau, Shymkent, Aktobe, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Semey, and Uralsky.

At noon on January 5, President Tokayev accepted the government's resignation, and riots soon broke out in Almaty. A group of unknown people stormed the city hall and the airport.  Videos released of the mayor's office on fire. Dozens of shops, stores, and banks were reportedly looted in Almaty.  Tokayev blamed "terrorist groups" for the January 6 attack in Almaty at a Security Council meeting.  But there remains no clear evidence "terrorist groups" he mentioned were the same protestors from January 2. 

It is unknown who the Kazakh president called the "terrorist bandits."  Tokayev did not specify his reasoning, where the group came from, or why he considered them aggressive.  In recent days, there have been no reports of any terrorist attacks or military operations in Kazakhstan.

On January 5, when the situation in the country escalated, Tokayev appealed to the CSTO for help.  Russia, Armenia, and Belarus, members of CSTO, promised to send troops to help Kazakhstan.  On the evening of January 6, Russian troops arrived in the country.

On January 7, Tokayev ordered police and military to “shoot to kill without warning."  Former KNB chief Karim Massimov was arrested on January 8 with charges of "high treason."

China Aid exposes abuses to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law. If you wish to partner with us in helping those persecuted by the Chinese government, please click the button below to make a charitable donation.

ChinaAid Media Team
Cell: +1 (432) 553-1080 | Office: +1 (432) 689-6985 | Other: +1 (888) 889-7757
For more information, click here