Kazakh protesters' demands take on different dimension

Demonstrators seek reduced pricing for everyday commodities, improved economy, higher wages, in addition to lowering LPG price.

Kazakh protesters' demands take on different dimension

Demonstrations in Kazakhstan took shape with additional demands, including calls for reductions in the prices of everyday commodities, improving the economy and increasing wages as well as reducing the prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). 

When the protests spread to Almaty, the country's largest city and former capital, the demands took on a new dimension, the Kazakh ambassador to Turkiye said Thursday.

Concerning the beginnings of the unrest in Kazakhstan, Abzal Saparbekuly told Anadolu Agency that the disturbances erupted with protests against a rise in LPG prices in the oil-rich Mangystau region in the country's west.

"These protests lasted for one day. Later, at midnight, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed to investigate these demands and economic conditions within the framework of the law," Saparbekuly said.

Additionally, in this context, the government established a commission, whose members traveled to the Mangystau region and engaged in negotiations with the public, he explained.

"Our president stated that our people have the right to express their rights openly and that the protests should not violate the law," he added.

LPG prices were reduced after the meeting between the commission members and the protesters, he said, adding that the security forces did not use force against civilians and that, at first, there was no show of force toward the people or action to disperse them.

Protests echo across different cities 

Meanwhile, the incidents echoed across different cities, the ambassador said, adding that the protests in many cities remained peaceful, but some protests in Almaty, turned into provocative actions by breaking the law.

Also, he went on to say after the protests spread to Almaty, where thousands of people took to the streets, the demands took a different dimension.

In addition, the demonstrators put their demands, which may be called excessive, into words, he noted. 

Casualties across security forces 

In terms of the fundamental cause of the incidents, he said it is too early to reveal the details. “As our president explained, internal and external factors contributed to these events. These were clearly announced by our president," he reiterated.

Most of the protests continued peacefully in the Mangystau region, where the events began, while vandalism occurred in some other cities.

Security forces are being attacked, and there have been casualties among them. There are reports of vandalism in Almaty, he said.

He stated that some incidents, such as setting on fire the governor's office in Almaty and raiding a media center, have already occurred.

Security forces, national guards, and military units have continued to intervene in the city to disperse the crowd and provocative groups, and tear gas has been used, he said of the present situation in the country. 

Situation in Kazakhstan 

Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry announced on Wednesday that more than 200 people were detained for disrupting public order during demonstrations that erupted across the country on Tuesday.

The ministry said 37 police vehicles were damaged, 95 officers were injured, and a car was torched during the protests.

Police remained deployed on the streets in Almaty.

Holding the government responsible for the protests that began in response to a recent hike in LPG prices, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday approved the resignation of Prime Minister Askar Mamin and his cabinet.

As protests spread across the country, Tokayev declared a state of emergency in Almaty and the oil-rich Mangystau region in the west from Jan. 5 to Jan. 19 in order to maintain public order. He also imposed a curfew in Almaty where thousands of people had taken to the streets.

While police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the protesters, they responded with stones. Clashes were also reported between the police and demonstrators.

The government has also restricted access to social media applications, including Facebook and Telegram.

The protests broke out on Jan. 2 when drivers held demonstrations against the LPG prices' increase in the city of Zhanaozen in Mangystau, which later extended to Aktau city.

Protests in the western cities of Atyrau, Aktobe, and Oral, where the country's petroleum and natural gas reserves are located, grew into countrywide public demonstrations.

Hüseyin Demir

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