Kazakhstan Protests: Over 160 Dead as Government Continues Brutal Crackdown
CSTO troops have been deployed after the President appealed for help. Russia is the de facto leader of the alliance.
More than 160 people have died in Kazakhstan after the government brutally cracked down on protests over the lifting of price caps for oil, which culminated in protests against the ruling class.
Most of the fatalities were reported in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty.
Protesters have reportedly ransacked government buildings and had even occupied the airport for a while.
The last time an official death toll was reported, the number stood at 44. That has now increased to 164 and around 6,000 people have been arrested, the BBC reported.
The office of the Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stated on Sunday, 9 January, that "a substantial number of foreign nationals" had been arrested.
He had earlier referred to them as a "band of international terrorists".
A state of emergency has been imposed along with a nationwide curfew.
The first protests that erupted on 2 January in the city of Zhanaozen in Mangistau province, Southwestern Kazakhstan, were initially triggered by the government's decision to lift price caps for LPG.
These then escalated into violent anti-government riots that spread across the country, demanding an end to poverty, inequality, and corruption.
Former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was Kazakhstan's de facto dictator for almost three decades and who (despite resigning in 2019) still holds quite some power behind the scenes, is the focus of public anger.
Protesters were chanting “old man out” and even tried to demolish his statue.
CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) troops have been deployed to the country after President Tokayev appealed for help.
Russia is the de facto leader of CSTO, and has sent 3,000 troops to suppress the protests.
A more detailed explainer on the protests and Russia's role can be found here.
(With inputs from BBC).
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