According to sources cited by Reuters, protesters have seized * an airport in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city. Flights have been suspended, the Internet and telephone connections are not working in the city.
All flights to and from Almaty were temporarily suspended, as the country was in turmoil, which began after the rise in the price of gas at gas stations. Kuwait low-cost airline Jazeera Airways was the first to announce the suspension of flights to / from Almaty due to the situation in the region.
Around the same time, oil group Chevron Corp announced that it was “working to end” the mobilization of its employees to the Tengizchevroil Consortium (TCO) on the occasion of government policy. The American company is the largest foreign oil producer in Kazakhstan, which owns 50% of the shares of the Tengizchevroil consortium. A spokesman said the protests did not affect oil production.
NOW – Situation in #Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis, spirals out of control. The president imposes a curfew and deploys the military to quell the anti-government protests. pic.twitter.com/AZIsZlhEYd
– Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) January 4, 2022
Kazakh President Kasim Zomart Tokayev had previously warned that he would react in the “most harsh way” to the protests, citing “massive attacks” on security forces and “killed and wounded” among the police.
The Internet and mobile phones do not work in the country today. In Almaty, the financial capital of Kazakhstan, crowds have taken over government buildings. After clashes with protesters, the police left the city streets. A resident who spoke to Reuters after speaking to protesters said most of them appear to have come from poor suburbs or neighboring villages and towns.
– CyberÖsint? ️ (@Kaala_Nag) January 5, 2022
In the central square, unknown people were handing out vodka and discussing whether they should go to the market or to the rich suburbs to rob. Anarchy reigns on the street. “The police are nowhere to be seen,” said a local resident.
Photos and videos posted on the Internet show protesters shouting slogans under the statue of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, which they removed from the pedestal.
Demonstrators demolished a monument to Nazarbayev in Taldykorgan pic.twitter.com/cRTXha6tpL
– NTV (@ntvru) January 5, 2022
Earlier on Instagram, a Kazakhstani blogger showed a live broadcast of a fire in the office of the Almaty City Hall, while shots sounded in the background. In other videos, the prosecutor’s office is on fire.
The protest began on Sunday in a provincial town over a rise in CIS prices, and expanded in Almaty from Tuesday evening to Wednesday. Agence France-Presse reporters said they saw police use tear gas and flashbangs to disperse 5,000 people. “Government, resign” and “Old man, leave” (a hint at Nursultan Nazarbayev), the audience shouted.
they took over the airport and are burning it. god i just want this to end. why set it on fire? how animals behave. it doesn’t help at all #Kazakstan # rally #Kazakistan #KazakhstanProtests #Kazakhstan pic.twitter.com/sOLvyv0Un7
– albedos dog (@ wh0re4anime) January 5, 2022
Thousands of people have occupied the mayor’s office of Almaty this afternoon. Men in police uniforms were seen lowering their shields and helmets while hugging protesters. “They passed us,” the woman screamed.
In an effort to calm the mood, President Tokayev accepted the government’s resignation and declared a state of emergency throughout the country, including the capital, Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana). They also banned traffic from 23.00 to 7 in the morning.
Tokayev also took over as head of the Security Council, replacing 81-year-old Nazarbayev. Despite stepping down as president in 2019, he continues to exert significant influence over the country’s political affairs. Tokayev had previously removed Nazarbayev’s nephew from his second position on the State Security Committee, the successor to the Soviet KGB.
Russia, for which Kazakhstan is a very important economic partner, called for a solution to the crisis through dialogue, rather than through “street riots.”
Observers from Ukraine point to significant similarities with the Ukrainian Maidan in 2014, warning Kazakhs that they will not like the results of the coup d’état, if it happens.
Protest started on Sunday, following a rise in gas prices, in the city of Zhanaozen in western Kazakhstan. Then it expanded to Aktau, the Caspian Sea and Almaty.
At first, the government unsuccessfully tried to calm the mood by announcing a reduction in the price of LPG to 50 tenge (0.1 euros) per liter instead of 120. The increase in prices is considered unfair by citizens, since Kazakhstan has huge reserves of gas and oil.
State television reported today the arrest of the director of a liquefied gas plant and another official in the Mangistau region, where the city of Zhanaozen is located. They are accused of “an unreasonable increase in the price of gas,” which “provoked massive demonstrations throughout the country.”
Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that it is important that no one interferes with the situation in #Kazakhstan from the outside. I think I heard it somewhere. Oh, wait. They talked the same about the protests in #Belarus… And then who interfered? Correct, the Kremlin pic.twitter.com/XseCRsTL9O
– Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) January 5, 2022
Kazakhstan, the largest economy in Central Asia, which has experienced double-digit growth in the past, has experienced a depreciation of the tenge and a sharp rise in inflation, due to falling oil prices and the economic crisis. Mangystau is dependent on liquefied gas as the main fuel for cars, and any increase in its cost is accompanied by a rise in food prices, which have already risen significantly since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
* At the time of publication, authorities expelled rioters from Almaty airport.