Kazakhstan - 2022 Uprising - Tick-Tock
The residents of Aktau and Zhanaozen in the southwestern Mangystau Region to took to the streets on 02 January 2022, demanding the prices be lowered. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev introduced a two week state of emergency in Mangistau and Almaty regions, as well as in Almaty, until January 19. It provides for a curfew from 7.00 to 23.00, a ban on mass events and strikes, a ban on the sale of weapons, ammunition and alcohol, the confiscation of weapons and ammunition from people, and increased security of especially important facilities. Entry and exit from these regions and Alma-Ata are restricted, document checks, inspections of people and vehicles are prescribed.
On January 4, he announced that he was ready to fulfill the main demand of the protesters and reduce gas prices. the protesters changed their slogan and began demanding the government's resignation when prices returned to their previous level. Tokayev urged people to show prudence and not succumb to provocations from inside and outside. He noted that calls to attack civilian and military offices are illegal. According to him, "the power will not fall," and the country "does not need a conflict, but mutual trust and dialogue."
On the morning of January 5, Tokayev dismissed the government and said that the Cabinet was especially guilty for allowing a protest situation. He also said that he now headed the Security Council of Kazakhstan, having removed from this post the first head of state, Nursultan Nazarbayev. “Considering that he replaced Nazarbayev as chairman of the Security Council, and in other structures, he will replace the people appointed by Nazarbayev with his own people. This is a continuation of the process of transferring power in a rather extraordinary situation. the power structures are loyal," Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the Institute of CIS Countries, said.
The head of state stressed that the authorities will act as tough as possible in relation to offenders, and promised to "come up with a new package of proposals" in the near future. Tokayev ordered to introduce state regulation of prices for liquefied gas and gasoline for six months. Despite this, the protest actions spread to other cities. In another major city, Aktobe – a city of half a million in the west of the country, not far from the Russian border – demonstrators took over the administration building. Videos from Aktobe captured a large crowd ascending the steps of the city’s administration building unhindered by the police. Earlier unconfirmed reports claimed the officers had refused to arrest the demonstrators and had said they were in solidarity with the people. Around a thousand protesters demonstrated in Aktobe, according to local media estimates.
The protests in Kazakhstan are rigged by those who want the resignation of President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev , this can be seen with the naked eye, and the head of state knows about it, Vladimir Zharikhin told RIA Novosti. Earlier on 05 January 2022, in a second address to the nation, Tokayev said that the conspirators in Kazakhstan had a thorough plan of action and were financially motivated. "The president did not say who did it, but he certainly knows it. The fact that the protests were rigged is visible with the naked eye," Zharikhin said.
In Taldykorgan, rioters demolished a monument to Nazarbayev. Airports in Aktau and Almaty suspended their work. Later it became known about the seizure of the airport in Almaty. When the airport was seized in Almaty "The protesters kicked passengers out of the terminal, they said we would not touch you," an employee of the air harbor told Sputnik. According to him, the airport was seized from the central entrance "quietly and peacefully", workers were released, another shift was allowed. Earlier, there had been reports that the Kazakh Army was protecting the airport’s perimeter, and footage of an purported military cordon has been shared online. However, Orda sources reported that the military has since left the scene, and that the airport’s employees had evacuated all remaining passengers. Staff are also said to have been evacuated to safety. The Russian flagship carrier Aeroflot, Belarusian carrier Belavia, and several other airlines canceled flights to Almaty.
The situation in Pavlodar stabilized, the riots were stopped there. In some regions of the country, wired internet was turned on. Residents were able to go online and from mobile devices. In Nur-Sultan, the atmosphere was calm. Elsewhere in Kazakhstan, in the cities of Alma-Ata and Aktau, some police units took the side of the protesters. The protesters tried to take by storm the building of the Auezov District Department of Internal Affairs, police officers shoot back on the roof of the building, use stun grenades. The rioters set fire to the building of the branch of the national state TV channel "Kazakhstan". Demonstrators broke into the mayor's office in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city.
Clashes resumed in the center of Almaty early on 05 January 2022, with a crowd of some 3,000 gathering outside the mayoral facility. The protesters, many of them carrying clubs and shields, began storming the building. Police fired stun grenades and tear gas at the crowd as people pushed through metal barricades in the street. However, it wasn’t enough to hold off the demonstrators, who eventually made it inside. After overwhelming police, protesters storming City Hall in Almaty, stripped the police of their riot gear and made piles of shields and batons next to the building.
Authorities of Pavlodar in northern Kazakhstan have successfully suppressed rallies with the situation in the city remaining calm, eyewitnesses told Sputnik. According to eyewitnesses, about 1,000 protesters attempted to storm Pavlodar's government buidling, but law enforcement officers promptly lined up in formation, turned on sirens and used stun grenades and crowd control equipment and vehicles against protesters. Demonstrators were pushed away from the city's central square, and mass detentions have been carried out by police. Protesters said that many of them were not from Pavlodar, but from villages located about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the city. They claimed being brought to the city.
Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev warned on 05 January 2022 there would be a "tough" response to unrest that continued to rock the central Asian country. "As president, I am obliged to protect the safety and peace of our citizens, to worry about the integrity of Kazakhstan," Tokayev said on Kazakh television. Later, and in a message shared on Russian media, Tokayev said: "There have been deaths and injuries. The situation threatens the security of all residents of Almaty, and that cannot be tolerated."
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the leaders of the two countries discussed the situation in Kazakhstan. The Kremlin did not comment on the negotiations. Lukashenko also had a conversation with Tokayev.
Police Chief Kanat Taimerdenov said in a statement that "extremists and radicals" were behind the protests, accusing demonstrators of attacking at least 500 civilians and ransacking businesses. National guard and army units joined the police to secure the city, Taimerdenov said. More than 200 people had been arrested and at least 95 police personnel have been injured in clashes, Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry said.
"We call on all concerned to act with responsibility and restraint and to refrain from actions that could lead to further escalation of violence. While recognising the right to peaceful demonstration, the European Union expects that they remain non-violent and avoid any incitement to violence. The European Union also calls upon authorities to respect the fundamental right to peaceful protest and proportionality in the use of force when defending its legitimate security interests, and to uphold its international commitments," European Union Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said in a statement on January 5.
"Kazakhstan is an important partner for the European Union. In the framework of the European Union-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, we count on Kazakhstan to uphold its commitments, including freedom of the press and access to information online and offline," the Spokesperson said.
The chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Zbigniew Rau, said on 05 January 2022 that the OSCE was ready to help Kazakhstan in continuing political reforms and called for peaceful de-escalation of the situation in the republic. "The OSCE is ready to assist and support Kazakhstan in continuing political reforms with full respect of the OSCE commitments, including through the OSCE Programme Office in Nur-Sultan," the statement published on the OSCE website read. The chairman also called for de-escalation in the country. Rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression must be protected, Rau added. Peaceful resolution of the crisis is "of great importance for the whole Central Asian region," the chairman concluded.
On 05 January 2022, the US State Department issued a travel advisory, stating "Protests continue in multiple cities throughout Kazakhstan. Continued heightened security presence is expected as well as public transport disruptions, intermittent internet network outages, and interruptions to electronic banking transactions. According to reports, clashes in Almaty between riot police and protesters have turned violent and crowds have broken into government buildings. Both protesters and police have reported injuries. Emergency services such as hospitals and poly-clinics have been affected. Authorities have declared a state of emergency in Mangystau, Almaty, and Nur-Sultan, and other cities may follow. U.S. government personnel are advised to avoid demonstration areas and shelter in place, and avoid standing next to balconies, or windows, and stay indoors whenever possible."
The Kazakh president asked the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for help amid violent unrest gripping the nation, claiming that “terrorists” were overrunning strategic facilities across the country. “I believe reaching out to our CSTO partners is appropriate and timely,” President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said late on 05 January 2022. The president slammed violent protesters, who have overrun government buildings and other facilities in several cities across the country, including the largest metropolis of Almaty, apparently referring to them as the “terrorist gangs”. These highly-organized protesters had been trained abroad, Tokayev alleged.
On 06 January 2022 the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) decided to send Collective Peacekeeping Forces to Kazakhstan for a limited period of time to stabilize the situation in the Central Asian country. The Collective Peacekeeping Forces include troops from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Moscow, reaffirming its adherence to the commitments within the framework of the CSTO, supports the adoption of such urgent measures, said the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it viewed the riots in Kazakhstan as an attempt, stoked by the outside, to undermine the country's security and integrity with trained armed formations.
Paul Robinson wrote 07 January 2022 "... the CSTO contingent in Kazakhstan will amount to no more than about 2,500 troops, which for a country that size is a tiny quantity. The role of the CSTO is largely symbolic – it sends a message to protestors and Kazakh security forces alike that the government isn’t backing down and has powerful external support. That should deter some of the former while putting a bit of steel in the spines of the latter."
The counter-terrorism operation in Kazakhstan was raised to "critical red" on 07 January 2022. Over 3,000 people have been detained in Kazakhstan in connection with the riots, 26 armed rioters have been killed, and 18 were injured in clashes with security forces, state-run broadcaster Khabar 24 reported, citing a source from the Interior Ministry.
Kazakh law enforcement agencies continued operations on 08 January 2022 in the city of Almaty, which had been the epicentre of violent riots in recent days. Over 4,000 people had been detained in Kazakhstan amid the ongoing protests, according to the Interior Ministry. The fighting has been going of for several hours in the suburbs of Kazakhstan's Almaty along the Bishkek-bound highway, a Sputnik correspondent reported, citing eyewitnesses.
Toqaev requested help from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as the protests spread on January 5. The CSTO quickly sent more than 3,000 troops to Kazakhstan. Those troops were guarding key infrastructure facilities, including Almaty's airport, several government buildings in Almaty, and the Soviet-era Baikonur cosmodrome that Russia continued to use for its rocket launches.
On 07 January 2022, US secretary of state Antony Blinken expressed concern over the CSTO decision to send peacekeepers to Kazakhstan, adding that "one lesson in recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave." Commenting on his remarks, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the US secretary of state "made a joke about the tragic developments in Kazakhstan in a boorish manner typical for him.... If Antony Blinken likes history lessons, let him know the following one: once Americans are in your house, it's sometimes difficult to remain alive, not robbed and not raped".
Toqaev posted on his Twitter account on 07 January 2022 that there had been “six waves” of attacks by terrorists on Almaty, and again said there were 20,000, “some of them speaking non-Kazakh languages,” who were “beating and killing policemen and young soldiers… looting private premises and shops, killing secular citizens, [and] raping young women."
Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry said 09 January 2022 at least 5,969 people had been detained so far. He said 133 of them were being held on suspicion of committing “serious crimes.” The news website Vlast.kz reported that at least 164 people were confirmed dead since unrest broke out on January 5. According to Vlast.kz, 103 of the deaths occurred in the country’s largest city, Almaty. Due to a state-imposed Internet blockage and disruption of mobile phone services within Kazakhstan, those figures are impossible to verify though the few reports that have emerged from the communication blackout spoke of larger casualty figures.
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