Police in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, have fired stun grenades at more than 1,000 protesters marching on the capital’s administration building. rare protests which began over a sharp rise in fuel prices continued in parts of the country.
Amid the unrest, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday accepted the resignation of the government and declared a state of emergency in affected areas.
The protests began after the government lifted price controls on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at the beginning of the year. Many Kazakhs have converted their cars to use on VPG due to its low cost. Sporadic protests are banned in the former Soviet state.
The government said the regulated price causes losses for producers and should be liberalized. But Tokayev has now ordered acting cabinet members and provincial governors to reinstate price controls on VPG, extending them to petrol, diesel and other “socially important” consumer goods.
He also ordered the government to develop a personal bankruptcy law and consider freezing utility prices and subsidizing rent payments for poor families.
In addition to replacing the prime minister, Tokayev has also appointed a new first deputy head of the National Security Committee, replacing Samat Abish, a cousin of powerful former president Nursultan Nazarbayev.