Kazakhstan Protests

Kazakhstan Protest at Night

Kazakhstan Protest at Night

What started out as a protest over Kazakhstan’s ever-increasing fuel prices has turned itself into one of the world’s bloodiest and most violent protests ever. January 2nd saw the start of the violent protests, as an increase in liquefied petroleum gas prices came into effect on January 1st. On January 5th, protesters stormed an airport in Kazakhstan’s biggest city, Almaty. They also managed to force themselves into government buildings and set ablaze the city’s main administrative office.

Local Kazakhstan media have issued reports of gunfire at the presidential residence and the mayor’s office. During these deadly protests, dozens of protesters and onlookers alike have been killed and many more injured, as police vehicles have been ablaze as the protestors also clash with Kazakhstan’s police force. In response to the violence and request from Kazakhstan’s president, Russia has supposedly sent 2,500 paratroopers to help deal with the riots. These paratroopers were sent in order to help stabilize the country.

After a few days, the riots slowly calmed down. The smell of teargas slowly faded, and machine-gun fire ceased. By January 4th, Almaty residents finally started returning to their everyday lives. Multiple shops were reopened for specific daytime hours, construction sites went back into operation, and public transportation was seen roaming the streets. However, many armed checkpoints are still in place.

What was the cause of all of this mayhem? To start with, government officials lifted the price cap on the aforementioned liquefied petroleum gas, a low-carbon fuel many Kazakhstan citizens use in their cars, angering regular buyers of the product. Kazakhstan is one of Central Asia’s richest countries due to its massive oil and natural gas reserves, yet despite this, its population remains relatively poor. To add even more fuel to the fire, many Kazakhstan citizens were unhappy with the current political system and existing economic issues. Many human-rights activists accused the government of oppression. To maintain order, the authorities rejected the allegations.

After only a few days, the protests and riots in Kazakhstan ended. Even weeks after the protests stopped, the reasons are still being discussed. However, the protest has shown the Kazakhstan government that their citizens aren’t afraid to express their ideas, even through violence.