Explainer: Why are people protesting in Kazakhstan?

A total of 7,939 people have been detained across the country.

Over 160 people have died so far in Kazakhstan due to the ongoing crisis in the country. People are protesting over various issues including fuel price hike, inequality among others. Kazakhstan’s president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev authorized security forces on Friday to shoot to kill those participating in the unrest. He has also called for Russian intervention to control the situation.

Why are people protesting?

On January 2, protests erupted in western Kazakhstan due to the rise in fuel prices, spreading to the other parts of the country shortly after. It transformed into a common protest against poverty, corruption, and inequality. The people are agitated with Tokayev and former president Nursultan Nazarbayev who held the position since the country’s independence in 1991 until 2019. Nazarbayev continues to call the shots from behind the scenes.

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What are they demanding?

The people are demanding better standards of living, but they aren’t united against the President nor do they have any strong leaders in the opposition. It is because the ruling party hasn’t allowed any position parties to flourish.

Where is Nazarbayev now?

The former President Nursultan Nazarbayev hasn’t given a public statement since the protests. There are speculations he might have fled the country. His image as a cult personality has diminished in a matter of days.

What is the CSTO and why is it intervening?

CSTO stands for Collective Security Treaty Organisation, consisting of Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan. Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia. Kazakhstan invoked Article 4 of the treaty on January 5. According to Article 4 of the treaty, if one of the members is under attack, it is considered an attack on all the members of the organisation.

The CSTO intervened in Khakastan on January 5 with its Peacekeeping Force, which consists of 3,600 troops. The general secretary of the CSTO, Stanislav Zas, told RIA news agency that currently the CSTO is sending 2,500 of its troops to deal with the situation. “However, the number may vary “, he added.

According to a report by the Guardian, as a result of mobile reception and internet blackout in most parts of the country, reliable figures on casualties are hard to come by, but there have been violent clashes in Almaty and other cities. President Tokayev has promised a ruthless crackdown and blamed “terrorists” trained abroad for the violence.

Last week, the Bitcoin prices decreased due to the protest in Kazakhstan, the country’s facing a lack of internet access, as a result, the biggest network of Bitcoin remained inactive the whole day.

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