Kazakhstan Unrest: Rolling Coverage

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Latest, January 10
Calm has appeared on the streets on Kazakhstan as military forces have regained control. Russia soldiers are in charge of the Baikonur Space City. Kazakhstan’s former Head of National Security, Kazim Massimov, along with other national security personnel have been arrested and charged with treason, a situation that points to a possible coup attempt having been instigated by supporters of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the previous President who may have felt isolated during the recent tenure of current President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Some 20,000 militants have been rounded up with many possessing automatic weapons, a sign that this theory may hold water. There will be repercussions not least to establish the possible involvement of any foreign influences and the supplies of smuggled arms. China is already nervous about Islamic influence on its borders while Russia feels pressurized by the West in Ukraine. The implications of what now appears an attempted coup and if any foreign involvement supported it can be expected, given Chinese and Russian security issues may yet be far reaching.

This bulletin is the last in this thread. Should matters develop we will feature them in new articles.

January 7
An uneasy peace has emerged with the Government saying all buildings are now secured. Reports some rioters had automatic weapons. Hundreds believed dead and thousands injured. Presidential Palace burned, statues of Nursultan Nazarbayev toppled, with ex-President now in Moscow. 2,500 soldiers drafted in from the CSTO. Banking system is closed. Trans-Kazak rail services as part of China-EU supply chains are expected to resume by Monday. The questions now will be how did this happen – were foreign agents involved, and what happens next? Elections held under the threat of ‘democratic violence’ appear unlikely.

Update: January 6
Rioters burned the Almaty Mayors office overnight and took over Almaty airport with reports of shootings and explosions throughout the country. A state of emergency has now been declared throughout Kazakhstan. There are suspicions of foreign involvement in the uprising given the use of weapons and apparently well planned, coordinated attacks. There have been calls for the current President to resign and for elections to be held. Troops are being sent in by the ‘Collective Security Treaty Organization’ (CSTO) – an alliance of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Kazakhstan’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dismissed the countries entire Government today (Wednesday January 5) following unprecedented unrest across the nation that had been inflamed by LNG price increases from January 1. LNG is a widely-used fuel for cars and trucks in Kazakhstan, which is an energy-rich nation.

Thousands of ordinary citizens took to the streets in Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty, and in the western province of Mangystau, with both now being under strict curfew. Police have fired stun grenades and tear gas into crowds running into thousands marching through main streets, shouting anti-government slogans and attacking vehicles.

President Tokayev has imposed states of emergency in Almaty, and Mangystau Province until January 19, with curfews to be in place from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am, with restrictions on movement.

However, Tokayev is widely seen as a front for the continuing rule of predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev with crowds also shouting ”Old man out.” Tokayev took office in 2019. Nazarbayev, who is 81 and had ruled Kazakhstan since 1989, retains control over the country as Chairman of the security council and “Leader of the Nation” — a constitutional role that affords him unique policymaking privileges as well as immunity from prosecution.

One of five ex-Soviet nations in Central Asia, Kazakhstan is of crucial importance to Russia as an economic partner and home to a large ethnic Russian population. Kazakhstan’s internet, including messenger apps Telegram, Signal and WhatsApp are currently all unavailable.

The tipping point appears to have been a raise of LNG prices to 120 tenge (US 28 cents) from January 1, however a reduction back to 50 tenge (11 cents) has failed to placate local Kazaks who are now demanding regime change.

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