The Kazakh central government recently increased the price of liquid-based fuels due to both high demand and price-fixing. Protests over the price began in the oil-producing center Zhanaozen, but the protests quickly spread across the country (notably to the nation’s largest city, Almaty) due to large amounts of dissatisfaction with the central government over economic inequality. The former Kazakh President also was a target of the demonstrations, as they had been the “President” since the country’s independence in 1990 until his resignation in 2019. Protests eventually devolved into violent riots and street battles between citizens and Kazakh troops and police officers. The central Kazakh government eventually called for Russian troops to help support and quell the riots which were becoming uncontrollable in the country’s major cities. Russian troops came into the country in the middle of the week of January 5th, and were able to assist Kazakh troops in quelling unrest in most major cities, while Kazakhstan was still under a state of emergency.
Kazakh Police protect Military Checkpoint after unrest (Taken from BBC via Reuters)
Kazakh Protesters were also labeled as “terrorists” by the central Kazakh government, and on Jan. 7th, Kazakh police and military assets were told to “fire to kill” on rioters. Claims from the Kazakh and Russian governments also called the unrest an “attempted coup d’etat” and “international terrorism,” however, both the Russian and Kazakh governments provided no evidence for both of their claims. Kazakh Police and military assets say they had quelled all major violence by Jan. 10th, and have slowly begun to re-open the country’s major cities and transportation hubs, as well as major cities,and their internet networks.
Kazakh Riot Police standing by during a Protest in Almaty (CNN)