Riots in Kazakhstan: heavy human toll, Russian troops on the spot

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Ériots in Kazakhstan: heavy human toll, Russian troops on the spot

Protesters, one of whom holds police ammunition, gather during a demonstration in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

Russian troops arrived in Kazakhstan on Thursday to support the power in place to contain riots that left dozens dead, the situation remaining explosive with shots fired in Almaty, the economic capital.

Central Asia's largest country is rocked by a protest that erupted in the west on Sunday after gas prices rose before reaching Almaty, where protests turned violent. Riot against power, protesters seizing official buildings.

The violence continued on Thursday, an AFP correspondent hearing several gunshots in the center of this city which bore the scars of the clashes of the previous day, with facades of buildings blackened by flames, charred carcasses and pools of blood on the ground.

Local media claimed on Thursday evening that security forces had chased protesters from Almaty's main square and regained control of official buildings, which AFP did not report. could check.

Shortly earlier, Moscow announced the arrival in Kazakhstan of Russian soldiers as part of the deployment of a collective peacekeeping force of the Russian Federation. Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-controlled group, at the behest of the Kazakh government.

The United States warned Russian troops on Thursday against any violation of human rights or attempts to take control of the country's institutions.

The United States, and frankly the whole world, is watching for human rights abuses. And we are also monitoring any action that could lay the groundwork for a takeover of Kazakhstan's institutions, said US Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price.

We hope that the government of Kazakhstan will be able to respond to the problems which are fundamentally economic and political in nature, he added.

The violence has caused shock in Kazakhstan, a country of around 19 million people rich in natural resources, renowned for its stable and authoritarian government .

Power in Kazakhstan is facing the most violent protests since the country's independence in 1991.

Saule, a protester from 58, said he saw a dozen protesters fall under the bullets of the security forces near the presidential residence in Almaty on Wednesday evening.

Demonstrating against corruption, she also said she was deeply disappointed by the Kazakh President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who accused groups of terrorists formed, according to him, abroad of being abroad; origin of the riots.

The toll of these unrest is heavy: the authorities have reported dozens of protesters killed and more than a thousand people injured, 62 of them seriously.

Eighteen members of the security forces were killed and 748 injured, news agencies reported, citing authorities.

Mr Tokayev has so far failed to calm protesters, despite concessions on gas and fuel prices, and the dismissal of the government.

At the same time, the repression is in full swing: the authorities, who have imposed a state of emergency and a night curfew, announced on Thursday that around 2,300 people had been arrested in Almaty alone.

On Wednesday, images circulating in the media and on social media showed scenes of chaos with shops looted and some administrative buildings set on fire in Almaty, while automatic weapon fire echoed through the city.

The demonstrators notably targeted the town hall and the presidential residence. The facade of the latter was blackened by flames and the entrance gate to the complex sunken, AFP noted on Thursday.

As the internet was cut, the country's financial institutions suspended operations, as did airports in Almaty, the capital Nur-Sultan and the major cities of Aktobe and Aktobe. ;Aktau.

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

Mr. Tokayev had assured Wednesday that terrorist gangs having received extensive training abroad were leading the demonstrations.

Beyond the price hike, the anger of the protesters is particularly directed towards the authoritarian former president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The 81-year-old reigned over the country from 1989 to 2019 and retains great influence. He is considered the mentor of the current president, Mr. Tokayev.

Dehors, le vieux!, in particular chanted demonstrators. In Taldykurgan (southeast), protesters unbolted a statue of Mr. Nazarbayev.

Kazakhstan, the largest of the five former Soviet republics in Central Asia and the region's main economy, has a large Russian minority and is of crucial economic and geopolitical importance for Russia.

Moscow on Wednesday called for resolving the crisis through dialogue, not street riots and violation of laws.

The UN on Thursday encouraged all parties in Kazakhstan to refrain from violence and Washington called for a peaceful solution.

Kazakh opponent Moukhtar Abliazov, a political refugee in France, told AFP on Thursday that a revolution was underway in his country and denounced the #x27;occupation of Kazakhstan by Russian forces, called to the rescue by the power in place.

In literally three days, a revolution happened. It's a real revolution, he said during an interview in Paris, where he lives.

Regime change has not yet taken place, but the revolution has already taken place in people's minds, considers the ex-banker and ex-Minister of 58-year-old who fell out of favor in his country in the late 1990s.

I consider that to be the end of the diet. The question is only how long it will take, he said. It can last a year, but everything can also change in two weeks, he sketches.

The opponent himself intends to continue his fight from Paris – where he has created an opposition party, the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan – while waiting to be able to return in his country and will ask to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.

He says he is ready to become prime minister of a provisional government and promises the establishment of a parliamentary regime, without a president.

I always say that I will lead the temporary government that will overthrow Nursultan Nazarbayev, for six months, he observes.

Former minister of President Nazarbayev, Mukhtar Abliazov spent 14 months in Kazakh prisons after his disgrace, before going into exile in the United Kingdom and then in France.

He is accused of having embezzled billions of dollars when he ran the BTA bank, charges he has always denied.

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