Home LATEST NEWS Riots in Kazakhstan: more than 160 dead, nearly 6,000 arrests

Riots in Kazakhstan: more than 160 dead, nearly 6,000 arrests

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In Almaty alone, the economic capital where the most violent riots took place, 103 people were killed, several media reported on Sunday, citing the Ministry of Health.

This balance sheet, which could not be independently verified, is on the rise. Authorities had so far reported 26 protesters and 16 members of the security forces killed and more than 2,000 injured.

The presidency announced Sunday that 5,800 people had been arrested and 125 investigations opened in the wake of these unprecedented riots since the independence, in 1989, of this country of 19 million inhabitants rich in hydrocarbons.

The situation has stabilized in all regions of the country, although the security forces are still carrying out cleaning, declared the presidency after a crisis meeting with the head of state, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The protest began in the provinces last Sunday after the increase in gas prices, before reaching large cities, including Almaty, where the police fired live ammunition at demonstrators storming official buildings.

A soldier in front of a charred vehicle.

A Kazakh law enforcement officer stands guard near a burnt out truck at a checkpoint in Almaty.

Photo: Reuters / PAVEL MIKHEYEV

According to the Kazakh Interior Ministry, the material damage caused by the violence was initially estimated at around C $ 251.4 million.

More than 100 businesses and banks were looted and more than 400 vehicles destroyed, according to the same source.

Kazakhstan announced on Saturday the arrest of the former director of intelligence services, Karim Massimov, the first major figure arrested, on suspicion of high treason.

Refusing any dialogue with the demonstrators, President Tokayev on Friday authorized his forces to shoot to kill.

A sign of a timid return to normalcy, supermarkets reopened in Almaty on Sunday, amid concerns over shortages, theFrance Media Agency.

Long queues of vehicles have formed in particular in recent days in front of gas stations.

However, a sign of the tension that still reigns, in Almaty, police officers fired shots in the air several times on Saturday to prevent residents from approaching the city’s central square.

Almaty also still bore the scars of violence, with building facades blackened by flames and scorched car wrecks littering the streets.

In addition to the rise in the cost of living, the figure of ex-President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who reigned with an iron fist over Kazakhstan from 1989 to 2019, crystallized the anger of the demonstrators.

A burnt down building.

An administrative building burned down in the center of Almaty.

Photo: Getty Images / ALEXANDR BOGDANOV

His spokesperson, Aïdos Oukibaï, once again denied Sunday that Mr. Nazarbayev had left the country, assuring that he supported Mr. Tokayev.

Against the backdrop of rumors of a power struggle, he also said that Nazarbayev had ceded the leadership of the National Security Council on his own initiative to Mr. Tokayev, who had abruptly announced this week that he was taking the reins.

The situation in Kazakhstan is followed with concern abroad, with Pope Francis expressing his pain and calling on dialogue to find peace.

This crisis has also given rise to tensions between Russia and the United States, in a context of growing tensions between these two powers.

Moscow has deployed troops to the Central Asian country as part of a multinational contingent of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (Organization of the collective security treaty), at the call of Mr. Tokayev.

The United States estimated that it would be very difficult for Kazakhstan to obtain the departure of the Russian military, a criticism which Moscow on Saturday called rude.

While American and Russian representatives are due to meet from Sunday evening in Geneva to talk about Ukraine and Europe, Moscow has ruled out any discussion with Washington on Kazakhstan.

This question does not concern them at all, swept the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov on Sunday.

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