Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
While many in the United States are starting to pack up the Christmas decorations, serious civil unrest has gripped the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan. The situation started on January 2, 2022. These protests started in response to the Kazakhstani government’s removal of a price cap on fuel, which caused fuel prices to skyrocket. These demonstrations then turned to a wider display against the government as a whole and the President, Jomart Tokeyev.
Why the People are Angry
The demonstrations were started in response to the sharp increase in fuel prices, which soon turned into demonstrations against the authoritarian Russian backed government. Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union until 1991. Since Kazakhstan gained independence, the same party has been in power for the duration of their independence. Furthermore, many in Kazakhstan are resentful of Russian influence in the region. All of this discontent erupted last week into these demonstrations, which soon turned violent.
Kazakhstan Government’s Response
In response to these widespread protests, including the taking of government buildings, riots and firefights in large cities, President Tokeyev ordered a “shoot-to-kill” order. This order means that police and military forces are ordered to kill anyone participating in civil disobedience. Furthermore, Russia, which borders Kazakhstan, has sent in troops as “peacekeepers” during this crisis. This has resulted in 164 protestors and citizens being killed as of January 9th. The government also detained 5,800 people. Tokeyev has claimed that this civil unrest was spurred by terrorist groups, with foreign aid. Recently, Tokeyev has claimed that the situation has been put under control and that the government has regained control of all capital buildings that were taken by protestors.