Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

On Wednesday 12 January at 19:30 GMT:
Kazakhstan is calm after government forces quelled the most widespread anti-government protests since the country declared independence in 1991.

The death toll from several days of unrest remains unclear, with the country’s Interior Ministry on Sunday withdraw a statement that at least 164 people died. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called the protests an “attempted coup” without providing evidence. Nearly 10,000 people have been detained, the country’s interior ministry said.

The protests began on January 2 in the western town of Zhanaozen, a day after the government removed subsidies on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) used by people to refill vehicles, which doubled its price. Thousands of people soon joined protests in other parts of Kazakhstan, including in the capital Nur-Sultan and Almaty, the country’s most populous city.

Protesters shouted slogans against Tokayev’s government and Nursultan Nazarbayev, who retired as president. in 2019 after almost three decades but which still has considerable political and economic power behind the scenes. While many protesters were peaceful, there were violent clashes between protesters and security forces. Some protesters attacked government buildings and looted shops and businesses.

The government’s reversal on the CPG price limits, as well as Tokayev’s decision on January 5 to lower the cabinet and removing Nazarbayev from the presidency of Kazakhstan’s Security Council has done little to appease public anger. Protesters continued to rally against long-standing economic and social inequality, corruption and authoritarian restrictions on free speech, assembly and political involvement.

After Russian troops joined a regional peacekeeping force deployed at Tokayev’s request to Kazakhstan, the president ordered security forces to “shoot to kill without warning”To suppress unrest he blamed on foreign-trained“ terrorist groups ”.

There are now signs that Tokayev is moving towards erase Nazarbayev loyalists and consolidates his own power.

In this episode of The Stream, we will talk about what brought so many people to take to the streets in Kazakhstan and ask what happens next.

In this episode of The Stream we are joined by:
Jardemalie boot, @jardemalie
Human rights defender and lawyer

Assel Tutumlu, @AsselTutumlu
Assistant Professor, Near Eastern University

Yerzhan Ashikbayev, @KZAmbUS
Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States

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