Protests and the state of emergency in Kazakhstan. The main thing

The protests in Kazakhstan, which began over the rise in gas prices, became nationwide on the third day. Against the background of the seizure of administrative buildings, the authorities launched an anti-terrorist operation, and the president turned to the CSTO for help

Last at 00:30 Moscow time

  • military Collective Security Treaty Organization. This decision was made by the council of the organization, which includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The decision was announced by the head of the council, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan.
  • President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev accused terrorist gangs trained abroad of seizing administrative buildings and weapons. According to him, this is actually an external aggression.
  • The authorities of Almaty, in which the local administration, the presidential residence, and the airport were seized during the day, announced the start of an anti-terrorist operation.
  • Tokayev turned to his CSTO partners for help. Armenian President Nikol Pashinyan said that consultations on this matter had already begun.
  • In the afternoon, Tokayev turned to the nation and announced his resignation from the post of head of the Security Council of the republic, Nursultan Nazarbayev. This position was taken by Tokayev himself. He called the protesters organized 'conspirators' and promised to act against them as harshly as possible.

Recent events

  • On January 4, despite the authorities' promise to reduce gas prices in the Mangistau region, protests spread throughout Kazakhstan – & mdash; the actions were held in the capital Nur-Sultan, the largest city of the country Alma-Ata and in other cities & mdash; Karaganda, Uralsk, Taldykorgan, Kyzylorda, Shymkent. The demands of the protesters from socio-economic turned political: the resignation of the government. In some cities, crowds chanted “ Shal, ket '' (“ Grandfather, go away ''), referring to the former President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev (he bears the title of the first president-leader of the nation and headed the country's Security Council on January 5). At the same time, protests do not have a clear leader.
  • President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev appealed to the people with a request not to follow the calls of “ destructive persons interested in undermining the unity of society. '' “ I again appeal to you [with a request] to show prudence and not succumb to provocations from within and from without. & lt; … & gt; Power will not fall, but we do not need conflict, but mutual trust and dialogue, '', & mdash; he stated.

Video

  • In several large cities, including Almaty, protesters clashed with the security forces. Several police cars were set on fire and destroyed in the city. The protests did not stop at night. Kazakh security forces used flash bombs and tear gas. Shots were heard, presumably with rubber bullets.
  • Due to the events in Almaty at night, President Tokayev announced the introduction of a state of emergency in the Mangistau region and Alma -Ate from January 5 for two weeks & mdash; until January 19 (under the conditions of the regime, among other things, any mass gatherings are prohibited and a curfew is imposed). Special equipment has been pulled into Alma-Ata.
  • Internet failures were recorded throughout the country. In Almaty, mobile Internet and messengers What's App, Telegram and Signal stopped working. Operators Beeline and Kcell confirmed interruptions to mobile Internet for reasons beyond their control.
  • The country's authorities also blocked media sites covering the protests, including KazTAG and Orda.kz.

January 5

  • The protesters broke into the building of the akimat (administration) of Almaty. A fire started in it, as well as in the building of the office of the Prosecutor General's Office. This was followed by attacks on police departments and the National Security Committee. By evening, the authorities briefly lost control of the airport.

  • Demonstrators also tried to storm the administration building of Aktobe, a large industrial center in western Kazakhstan. The riot police used flash-bang grenades against them. Several explosions took place near the city administration building.

  • The state of emergency was introduced in the capital of Nur-Sultan and the Alma-Ata region. Later, the state of emergency was extended to the whole country.

  • According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 8 law enforcement officers died during the riots, more than 300 were injured.

  • President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev accepted the resignation of the government led by Askar Mamin. Alikhan Smailov was appointed as Acting Prime Minister & mdash; First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic.

  • In his address to the nation, Tokayev said that he was accepting the post of chairman of the country's Security Council. This was one of the last official posts that the retired first president of the republic, Nursultan Nazarbayev, still retains. There is still no reaction from Nazarbayev.

  • Kazakh media reported that against the background of the seizure of administrative buildings in Almaty, there were facts of looting, attacks on shopping centers and banks.

  • During the day, the Internet stopped working throughout Kazakhstan. By the evening, there were reports that at least in Nur-Sultan and Alma-Ata, the Internet was working.

What provoked the protests

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  • The protests in Kazakhstan began on January 2 due to an increase in the price of automobile gas since the new year from 60 to 120 tenge (from 10 to 20 rubles) per liter. The first rallies were held in the Mangistau region, in the west of the country, in the cities of Zhanaozen and Aktau. The Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan explained that the increase in prices is associated with an increase in demand & mdash; gas consumption is growing every year, while production volumes remain at the level of previous years.
  • At first, the owners of gas stations in this area decided to reduce prices. This did not knock protest sentiments.
  • After the first protests, the government created a special commission to consider the situation in the Mangistau region. On January 4, she promised the protesters to comply with their demand & mdash; to lower the price of fuel to 50 tenge (8.67 rubles) per liter. But that didn't help either.
  • In the city of Aktau, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Energy came out to the protesters. They informed people about the decision on prices and promised that people who took to the square would not be held accountable.
  • What are the prerequisites for the protests

    Throughout 2021, sociologists recorded alarming post-pandemic effects, Daria Chizhova, director of the Information and Analytical Center for the Study of Social and Political Processes in the Post-Soviet Space of Moscow State University, told RBC. Tough quarantine measures have led to changes in the structure of the population's income & mdash; the most threatened is the middle class, whose share has plummeted; followed by a sharp rise in consumer debt & mdash; growth by 26% compared to 2020, such economic well-being was consistently reflected on the general well-being & mdash; the share of Kazakhstanis who believe that they have the prospect of improving the economic situation fell to 30% (against 50% in 2019, for example), experts describe the situation. 'Protests' it is a continuation of the systemic discontent and fatigue of the Kazakh society. That is why it is so difficult now to stop the protest wave & mdash; there are no uniform requirements, one dissatisfaction '', & mdash; Chizhova says.

    The developing critical situation in the country, in my opinion, is caused not so much by ill-considered and poor-quality actions of the government, but by the functioning of the extraordinary system of state power formed in 2019 with the participation of the first (former) and second (current) presidents of Kazakhstan, notes Kazakh political scientist Andrei Chebotarev. “ Disorientation of the state apparatus, especially its top echelon, and the maneuvering of high-ranking officials between Akorda or the 'Library' (Nazarbayev's office. & mdash; RBC ) negatively affected all spheres of life of Kazakhstani society and the state. This was especially evident in 2020 at the peak of the COVID-19 coronavirus infection pandemic '', & mdash; indicates an expert.

    Trigger events

    In Kazakhstan, in 2019, a phased transition to the sale of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) began on electronic trading platforms, and from 2022 it was planned to completely switch to the sale of this fuel through the exchange, abandoning manual price regulation. LPG prices have been growing in Kazakhstan throughout 2021 and especially actively & mdash; since the beginning of autumn. For example, in October prices at gas stations were already very close to 90 tenge per liter. This happened against the backdrop of rising oil and gas prices on the world market, as well as due to the gradual transition to market pricing within the country. “ Since January 1, Kazakhstan has switched to trading [LPG] through a commodity exchange. For a long time, the government artificially restrained the rise in gas prices, the demand for which has grown significantly. In the context of high prices on world markets, producers have an incentive to export gas, and not supply it to the domestic market, '', & mdash; an analyst at Sinara investment bank told RBC Kirill Bakhtin.

    The transition to e-commerce will allow balancing the price of LPG on the basis of supply and demand, which will attract investment in the creation of new production facilities, & mdash; said in a message from the Kazakh Ministry of Energy, published on January 3. “ In addition, market mechanisms have a positive effect on the development of competition, reduce the impact on the market of unproductive intermediaries, create favorable conditions for the development of small and medium-sized businesses, '' & mdash; noted there.

    The Ministry of Energy then argued that before the transition to electronic trading, the price of this type of fuel was unprofitable for producers, since it was sold at a price lower than the cost price. The main producer of LPG & mdash; Tengizchevroil, a company controlled by American Chevron (50%) and ExxonMobil Kazakhstan Ventures Inc (25%), 20% & mdash; from the state-owned company of Kazakhstan “ Kazmunaigas '', 5% from the “ daughter '' LUKOIL LUKArco. Tengizchevroil owns the country's largest oil field, Tengiz, in western Kazakhstan. But most of Tengizchevroil's fuel sends for export.

    Back in the middle of summer 2021, the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan obliged LPG producers to send all free volumes to the domestic market, refusing to export, with the exception of Tengizchevroil and Zhaikmunai plants. (owned by Nostrum Oil & amp; Gas, which is part of the Singapore-based Steppe Capital Pte Ltd holding, controlled by Nursultan Nazarbayev's son-in-law Timur Kulibayev) and Gas Processing Company. The shortage in the market worsened in October, when one of the major gas producers stopped for repairs & mdash; Pavlodar Petrochemical Plant (subsidiary of Kazmunaigaz). Market participants reported problems with providing LPG to consumers, in particular in Nur-Sultan, Mangistau and North Kazakhstan regions.

    LPG is the main fuel for light vehicles in Kazakhstan. From 2019 to 2021, the number of cars running on liquefied gas has doubled – & mdash; from 140 thousand to 313.4 thousand. Its consumption in two years increased from 1.3 million tons to 1.6 million tons. At the same time, the volume of production remained at the same level. Tengizchevroil in 2020 produced 1.482 million tons of LPG, of which exported 1.351 million tons (Refinitiv data).

    The average salary in Kazakhstan for the III quarter of 2021 was 243 thousand tenge per month.

    How events may develop

    President Tokayev is in a difficult situation, notes Daria Chizhova, for an Asian country to show weakness, and the authorities must clearly fix their monopoly on strength. The expert notes that there is now an active localization and sewerage of the protest & mdash; some activists are calling to take to the streets and seize buildings. “ If the authorities do not allow open provocations, then the situation will be stabilized in the near future. A protest has no specific political demands unless specific leaders emerge – & mdash; the instruments of the state of emergency can be effectively brought out of this crisis, '', & mdash; Chizhova believes. However, in her opinion, after the end of the EP, the new government and administration will have a lot of work to do, since the root causes of discontent, including economic ones, will not go anywhere.

    Now the country's leadership accepts “ firefighters '' measures, most likely, there will also be a change in the leaders of a number of regions of the country, continues Chebotarev. “ At the same time, the current processes in the country have surpassed the events of Zhanaozen in 2011 and the land protests of 2016 in their scale. In this regard, they simply cannot but become a serious political lesson for the entire ruling elite of Kazakhstan. Therefore, after the stabilization of the situation in the country, it is necessary to start developing and adopting more radical measures, primarily of a political nature, '', & mdash; the expert believes.

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