Violent clashes resumed between anti-government demonstrators and security forces in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, on Wednesday, January 5, amid an eruption of unrest sparked by the removal of a cap on fuel prices.
Protests against the removal, which doubled the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) automobile fuel for Kazakhs, began on Sunday, January 2, in the country’s oil-rich Mangistau region before spreading to other towns and cities.
On Wednesday in Almaty, hundreds of protesters, some armed with makeshift weapons, stormed the mayor’s office and clashed with security forces, who used tear gas and stun grenades in response, according to local media outlets and Reuters.
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday dismissed his cabinet and declared a two-week state of emergency in Mangistau region and in Almaty. In a televised address, the president said he would “act as tough as possible” in response to the demonstrations, Russia’s TASS news agency reported. Tokayev also said he was assuming the role of Chairman of the Security Council, a position that was held by the 81-year-old former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who despite stepping down in 2019 still wielded significant influence over the country.
Later on Wednesday, Reuters reported that protesters had “seized” Almaty Airport, prompting a suspension of flight operations, and Russian state media reported that demonstrators had attempted to storm the internal affairs ministry in Almaty.
The Russian foreign ministry said earlier on Wednesday that it was “closely following the events” in the neighboring former Soviet republic and reiterated its support for the Kazakh president. Credit: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via Storyful