State of emergency: shots in the Kazakh city of Almaty, looting – WELT

Dhe serious riots continue in the Republic of Kazakhstan. In the metropolis of Almaty there was a “violent exchange of fire” between dozens of armed people and the military in front of the town hall on Thursday, the Russian state agency Tass reported, citing its local correspondents. 300 soldiers had moved in about in armored personnel carriers. They would have surrounded the square.

“Extremist forces” tried to storm administration buildings as well as the headquarters and several police stations in Almaty, police spokesman Saltanat Asirbek told the news agencies Interfax-Kazakhstan, Tass and Ria Novosti. Dozens of attackers were “eliminated”, that is, there were deaths. This is reported by AFP and Reuters, and most recently by dpa.

In the center of Almaty there are no more demonstrators and soldiers, reported the Kazakh medium Vlast in the news channel Telegram. Many supermarkets and shops were looted, including an arms dealer’s shop. In addition, many ATMs were blown up. “There is a strong smell of fire in the city.”

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In contrast, videos from the capital Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) showed how public life started the new day. You can see cars and buses on the streets, but also a large number of security forces that have sealed off government buildings. At the city’s airport, all flights were reportedly canceled until noon. The state of emergency applies throughout the country. Long queues formed in front of some banks.

The trigger for the biggest wave of protests in years was resentment at the significantly higher fuel prices at the petrol stations in the oil and gas-rich ex-Soviet republic. In response to the protests, some of which were violent, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dismissed the government before the military intervened in Almaty on Thursday night.

Dispute over “peacekeepers”

Previously, the dispatch of foreign soldiers to Kazakhstan by a Russian-led military alliance had stoked fears of a further escalation of the situation in the former Soviet republic. It was said that the soldiers of the Alliance should be deployed for a limited period of time “to stabilize and normalize the situation in the country”. These include Russian soldiers, according to reports on Thursday, they are said to be paratroopers.

The Kazakh government sought this help after its own troops used gun violence against demonstrators critical of the government. The US and EU called for moderation on all sides and called for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

The Moscow-led military alliance had previously announced that it would send “peacekeeping troops” to unrest-ridden Kazakhstan. The deployment of troops “for a limited time” was decided to “stabilize and normalize” the situation in Kazakhstan, the current chairman of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, said on Facebook on Thursday.

Kazakhstan’s head of state Kassym-Shomart Tokayev had previously requested help from the alliance. The alliance includes six former Soviet states, including Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kazakhstan, during his televised address

Quelle: dpa/Uncredited

The riots that broke out over the weekend are “not a threat, but an undermining of the integrity of the state,” he said. In a televised address he announced “maximum hardship” against “lawbreakers”. He extended a state of emergency already existing for Almaty and the capital Nur-Sultan because of the mass protests to the whole country.

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According to the Kazakh authorities, at least eight police officers and soldiers have already been killed. Several Kazakh Telegram channels published videos on Thursday night that are said to show military action against demonstrators in the urban area of ​​the economic metropolis of Almaty. Shot noises can be heard on the recordings and people screaming.

The Kazakh television station Khabar 24 announced in the morning that the security forces would continue to crack down on demonstrators. “The anti-terrorism operation to restore order will continue in Almaty,” it said. The Russian state agency Ria Novosti reported that military vehicles had collected bodies in the city. Banks have also stopped working for the time being.

Internet turned off again

The information situation is made more difficult by repeated blockages of the Internet in Kazakhstan. The network was shut down for hours on Wednesday – presumably to make new meetings more difficult. Several television stations stopped operating. On the night of Thursday, the websites of authorities, police and airports were again inaccessible, as the Russian state agency Tass reported. Internet sites such as the state news agency Kazinform and other media were also not available from Germany.

Riots during protests in Kazakhstan

Protesters in Almaty glow with their smartphones as they gather in the city center. They protest against high energy prices

Source: dpa / Vladimir Tretyakov

According to Tass, there was a complete internet failure in the megacity of Almaty, which paralyzed social networks as a central coordination tool for demonstrators. The mobile network in the economic metropolis was also dead.

In Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom list, the former Soviet republic ranks 155th out of 180 countries. “In the past few years, the government of Kazakhstan has silenced almost all opposition media with claims for damages and targeted attacks on journalists,” said the organization’s website. “There are no longer any critical TV channels, there are hardly any informational programs on the radio, but mainly music and state-required news. Defamation is a criminal offense and is punished if the government is criticized. Many journalists censor themselves. “

The unprecedented protests in Kazakhstan broke out out of displeasure at the significantly higher prices for liquefied gas at filling stations. Many Kazakhs use this gas because it is cheaper than gasoline. Many demonstrators also directed their displeasure against the government and blamed them for their poor living conditions because everyday life was becoming more expensive due to high inflation.

Riots during protests in Kazakhstan

The police resisted the demonstrators

Source: dpa / Vladimir Tretyakov

The country with more than 18 million inhabitants borders among others with Russia and China. It is rich in oil and gas reserves. The republic is also one of the largest uranium producers in the world. Nevertheless, Kazakhstan is struggling with mismanagement and poverty.

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State of emergency: shots in the Kazakh city of Almaty, looting – WELT