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Kazakhstan protests – live: Almaty airport seized by demonstrators amid anger over fuel price rise

Kazakhstan government resigns after violent fuel protests

Kazakhstan‘s presidential residence has been engulfed in flames and armed protesters have stormed another government building, as protests in the central Asian country turned violent amid anger at a rise in fuel prices.

Almaty airport has also been seized and a state of emergency declared following the worst unrest for more than a decade. All flights to and from Almaty have been temporarily cancelled after demonstrators seized control of the airport of Kazakhstan’s biggest city, reports said. The White House is said to be monitoring the unrest.

The protests began on Sunday in Zhanaozen, a city in the west, spreading across the country and on Tuesday large demonstrations broke out in the capital, Nur-Sultan.

Although they started over a near-doubling of prices for a type of liquefied gas that is widely used as vehicle fuel, the size and rapid spread of the unrest suggest they reflect wider discontent in the country that has been under the rule of the same party since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. 


Kazakh president seeks help from Russia-led security bloc

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has appealed to a Russia-led security bloc to assist Kazakhstan in overcoming what he called a “terrorist threat”.

The comments came as Mr Tokayev made a second televised speech in the space of a few hours.

He said what he described as foreign-trained terrorist gangs were seizing buildings, infrastructure and weapons. They had taken control of the airport in the biggest city, Almaty, and five aircraft there, including foreign planes, he said.

“It is actually no longer a threat, it is an undermining of the integrity of the state and most importantly it is an attack on our citizens who are asking me… to help them urgently,” Tokayev said.

“Almaty was attacked, destroyed, vandalized, the residents of Almaty became victims of attacks by terrorists, bandits, therefore it is our duty… to take all possible actions to protect our state.”

Mr Tokayev said he had appealed to the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a military alliance of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Tom Batchelor5 January 2022 19:47


Security forces ‘use stun grenades’ in Kazakhstan protest crackdown

Security forces used stun grenades in Kazakhstan

Tom Batchelor5 January 2022 19:20


Eight killed and 317 injured – report

Eight security personnel have been killed and a further 317 injured, reports suggest, while no figures have been given for deaths and injuries of those protesting.

Russia’s state-owned Sputnik news agency quoted the Kazakh interior ministry as saying the police and national guard troops were killed and injured in several regions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The unrest is the worst in Kazakhstan since 2011, when at least 14 protesters were killed by police during a strike by oil workers in the western city of Zhanaozen.

Tom Batchelor5 January 2022 19:12


Kazakh president fires powerful security chief

Kazakhstan‘s president has fired the powerful head of the country’s security council in an attempt to calm the worst unrest to rock the Central Asian nation for more than a decade.

Protesters, initially angered by a New Year’s Day fuel price rise, have stormed and torched public buildings and chanted slogans against security chief Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has retained wide authority despite stepping down as president in 2019 after nearly three decades at the helm.

Mr Nazarbayev’s hand-chosen successor as president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, said in a national televised address that he had taken over as head of the State Security Committee, a post that had been retained by Mr Nazarbayev.

Tom Batchelor5 January 2022 18:30


Why are violent protests rocking Kazakhstan?

When and where did the violence start, what are the protesters’ demands and how have the authorities responded?

For answers to these questions and more, here is our explainer on the fast-moving situation in Kazakhstan.

Tom Batchelor5 January 2022 18:08


White House monitoring unrest as US urges calm

The White House has urged calm and restraint in reaction to protests in Kazakhstan, which it said officials were monitoring.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki also said Russian accusations that the United States had instigated the unrest was “absolutely false”.

Tom Batchelor5 January 2022 17:52


Putin discusses unrest with Kazakh and Belarusian presidents

Vladimir Putin has discussed the unrest in Kazakhstan with the country’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The Russian president has also spoken with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko about the situation the Belarusian news agency Belta said.

Belarus is separated from Kazakhstan by more than 1,00km of Russian territory.

Tom Batchelor5 January 2022 17:42


Kazakhstan unrest in photos

Smoke rises from the city hall building during a protest in Almaty


Protesters took to the street during a rally over a hike in energy prices in Almaty


Riot police officers prepare for violent skirmishes


This image grab shows protesters near an administrative building in Almaty

(AFP via Getty Images)

Riot police block a street after Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared a state of emergency in the capital until 19 January


Tom Batchelor5 January 2022 17:23


Powerful ex-leader Nazarbayev is main target of Kazakhs’ anger

Nursultan Nazarbayev, stripped on Wednesday of his role as head of Kazakhstan’s powerful Security Council amid violent street protests, has dominated his vast oil-producing Central Asian nation since before the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Reuters reports.

Some protesters have chanted slogans against the 81-year-old former president during days of unrest triggered by a fuel price rise that on Wednesday brought the Cabinet’s resignation.

Despite quitting the presidency in 2019 and bequeathing power to a hand-picked successor, Mr Nazarbayev remained the real power in the land.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced in a televised address on Wednesday that he would now head the State Security Committee but made no mention of Mr Nazarbayev, who has not been seen or heard from for days.

Mr Nazarbayev ruled Kazakhstan with an iron hand for nearly three decades, attracting hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign investment in the energy and metal sectors and skilfully balancing ties with powerful neighbours Russia and China.

But the former steelworker brooked no dissent and drew criticism from Western countries and human rights groups who accused him of rolling back post-Soviet democratic freedoms. His family is believed to control much of the Kazakh economy.

Tom Batchelor5 January 2022 17:15


Jazeera Airways becomes first to cancel flights to Almaty

Kuwaiti budget carrier Jazeera Airways on Wednesday suspended flights to Kazakhstan‘s biggest city Almaty as violent protests against the government there continued across the country.

“We will provide an update on our operations when we have further information,” an airline spokesperson said by email.

The Gulf carrier typically operates weekly flights to Almaty, its only destination in the Central Asian country.

Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and flydubai, which operate regular flights to Kazakhstan, separately said they were monitoring events in the country.

Tracking app FlightRadar24 showed there were no airborne aircraft en route to or from Almaty airport on Wednesday afternoon (close to midnight local time).

Tom Batchelor5 January 2022 16:52


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