Protesters in Kazakhstan are said to have taken control of the international airport in Almaty on Wednesday night. The NUPI researcher describes the development as “disturbing”. Just before midnight on Wednesday, the President of Armenia confirmed that the Collective Security Treaty Organization will send troops to the country.
In a televised address, the President of Kazakhstan addressed the Collective Security Pact, a military alliance between Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. There he asked for help in suppressing mass demonstrations in the country, which he believed posed a “terrorist threat”. Just before midnight Norwegian time, the president of Armenia replied that the CSTO was sending troops.
VG spoke with a NUPI researcher who described the country’s development as “disturbing”.
Researcher and Central Asia expert Helge Blakesrud at the Norwegian Institute of Foreign Policy NUPI told VG that the riots we see now in Kazakhstan could easily have their own dynamics that are difficult to stop.
He says the demonstrations and uprising have spread much faster than most people previously thought, and that they are now happening across the country, not just in the southwest where it all began.
It is said that rising fuel prices was the spark that ignited a popular uprising against the government and the president of Kazakhstan on Sunday night.
– It is clear that this was met with wider dissatisfaction with the developments in the country. Authorities responded by declaring a state of emergency, Blacksrud says.
At least eight people from the country’s security forces were killed as a result of the mass demonstrations, according to the Interior Ministry, which also reported 317 injuries.
Watch a video of the demonstrations:
About 10,000 protesters took part in the riots on Tuesday night, a local journalist told CNN, which culminated in the administration building outside the mayor’s office in the economic capital Almaty. Flames and smoke were seen rising from the building.
The protesters were armed with stones, sticks, pepper spray and Molotov cocktails, according to Interior Ministry officials.
The uprising was said to have spread to three Kazakh cities, and on Wednesday, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appeared on television and said that the prime minister had resigned and a new inmate and that the situation was under control.
“As president, I am committed to protecting the peace and security of our citizens, ensuring the safety of Kazakhstan,” Tokayev said in a televised speech.
The president assured the public that he had taken control of the country’s Security Council, allegedly ruling out questions about the role the former president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, may have played in the situation that led to the drama in Kazakhstan on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Kazakhstan has so far been a political and economic success story in an unstable region. The former president, Nazarbayev, who was in power from the end of the Soviet era until 2019, pursued what might be called an authoritarian modernization policy, says Blacksrud, and continues:
– It is often difficult for such autocratic leaders to ensure a smooth seizure of power, but for a long time it seemed that Nazarbayev succeeded. Now, however, it seems very annoying to the system.
On Wednesday evening, the President of Kazakhstan asked a security alliance backed by Moscow to help suppress what he calls the “terrorist threat”:
In a televised address, he delivered a speech on the Collective Security Charter (CSTO), a military alliance between Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
There he asked for help in suppressing mass demonstrations in the country, which he believed posed a “terrorist threat”. According to Tokayev, the demonstrations are led by terrorist gangs receiving training from abroad. At the same time, Tokayev stated that he deployed armed forces from the army to break up the demonstrations.
At about 23:00 Norwegian time, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan replied that they would send troops to Kazakhstan. He writes this on his own Facebook side.
He wrote that the decision to deploy peacekeepers for a limited period was taken in response to an appeal from the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Pashinyan did not say how many troops they would send or when.
On Wednesday evening, the United States condemned the violence and destruction in Kazakhstan and called on protesters and the authorities to exercise restraint. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, according to Reuters.