Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

Kazakh authorities have now arrested about 12,000 people for alleged participation in anti-government protests.

Kazakh authorities say they have detained nearly 1,700 more people over the past 24 hours for their alleged participation in anti-government protests that rocked the former Soviet nation last week.

The 1,678 arrests reported Wednesday by authorities in Almaty, the country’s largest city and the site of the most violent clashes during the riots, have brought the total number of people detained to about 12,000 since the January 2 protests began. has.

More than 300 criminal investigations, including alleged assaults on law enforcement officers, have been opened.

Demonstrations initially erupted over rising fuel prices in the sprawling, resource-rich Central Asian nation of 19 million and quickly spread across the country, turning into anti-government protests with political slogans reflects greater dissatisfaction about the influence still exerted by the country’s former longtime leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.

At least 160 people have been killed, including dozens of civilians and more than a dozen security forces, including Kazakhstan’s deadliest outbreak of violence since it gained independence more than 30 years ago.

In Almaty, protesters set fire to government buildings and briefly seized the airport, while security forces responded with live rounds a stun grenade.

As the unrest escalated, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sought to alleviate the crisis by announcing a 180-day cap on fuel prices, firing the country’s cabinet and removing Nazarbayev from his post as head of the National Security Council. discharge.

Tokayev too asked for help of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russia-led military alliance made up of six former Soviet states, while moving to blame the violence on foreign-trained “bandits and terrorists” without providing evidence .

The block responded by send more than 2,000 troops to Kazakhstan for a “peacekeeping” mission.

Tokayev on Wednesday declared the Russian-led CSTO alliance’s peace mission in Kazakhstan complete, the bloc said.

CSTO said the peace contingent would take 10 days to fully withdraw and begin the process Thursday.

The 68-year-old, who was elected Nazarbayev’s successor in 2019, said at a CSTO virtual top-level meeting on Tuesday that Kazakhstan had successfully withstood an “attempted coup”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken with Tokayev, demanding the victory in defending Kazakhstan against what he described as a foreign-backed “terrorist” uprising.

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