In cities in Kazakhstan, the high gas prices and President Tokayevs government are protesting. In Almaty, the largest city in the country, riot police have hit with protesters. Dozens of people have been arrested. In Almaty and the southern province of Mañğıstaw, a state of emergency has been declared and a curfew has been set.
On 1 January, the price of LPG was suddenly increased considerably, from 50 to 60 Kazakh tenge (about 10 to 12 euro cents) to 120 tenge (24 euro cents) per litre of liquefied gas. That sparked the anger of many Kazakhs, who often drive cars with an LPG tank. A day later, the first protest erupted in the southern town of Zjanaozen.
After three days, the demonstrations expanded to all corners of the country, with larger crowds in Almaty and the capital Nur-Sultan. Thousands of people are on their feet in those cities.
According to a journalist at the scene of Reuters news agency, police in Almaty deployed tear gas and flash grenades to disintegrate the protesters. On images, burned out cars can be seen. The Internet has also been shut down in parts of the country, Kazakhs report via social media. A Radio Free Europe journalist has been arrested, reports his employer.
Protesters are trying to build an encampment in central Almaty, but that is prevented by the riot police:
President Tokayev announced this evening that the price increases will be partly reversed. He also called on the protesters to maintain peace and not to storm government buildings. Earlier today, protesters tried to storm the office of the mayor of Almaty.
Protests are rare in authoritarian Kazakhstan. Approval must be requested for every demonstration, but it is almost never given. Several human rights activists have been given years of prison sentences in recent years.
For decades, the former Soviet Republic was led by the now 81-year-old Nuersultan Nazarbayev. In 2019, he stepped back, but as chairman of the Security Council, he continues to influence the Kazakh regime in the background.