Kazakhstan protests in 2022

Article

January 23, 2022

Protests erupted in Kazakhstan on January 2, 2022 after a sharp rise in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which, according to the Kazakh government, was due to high demand and price fixing.

Context

Until 1991, Kazakhstan was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) under the name Soviet Socialist Republic of Kazakhstan (RSS Kazakhstan). During the process of dissolution of the USSR, the Kazakhstan SSR was the last republic to declare its independence. The Constitution of Kazakhstan was officially approved on January 28, 1993.21 Nursultan Nazarbayev, then Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan during the last years of the USSR, was elected President in an election in which he was the only candidate. In 1999 he founded the Nur Otan Party, a conservative social and liberal ideology. Nazarbayev was in office between 1990 and 2019, being succeeded by Kasim-Yomart Tokáev, also a member of the Nur Otan party. Kazakhstan has one of the highest performing economies in Central Asia, with oil production accounting for a large percentage of its economic growth until oil prices fell in the mid-2010s. The country also had about 40 % of the world's uranium resources. According to Wall Street Journal journalist Georgi Kantchev, none of the economic benefits of oil and uranium were shared among the population, with a low minimum wage and growing inequality. In 2012, the World Economic Forum and the World Bank noted that corruption was one of the most serious problems.26 In 2013, Aftenposten quoted human rights activist and lawyer Denis Jivaga as saying that “oil funds in Kazakhstan exist , but no one knows how the income is spent. In 2018, Credit Suisse ranked Kazakhstan 169th out of 174 countries in wealth distribution. In 2022, the 162 richest Kazakhs accounted for 55% of the country's wealth. In 2011 riots broke out in the city in connection with the 20th anniversary of Independence Day, which according to official data ended with the killing of 16 people and more than 100 wounded, with security forces of the Kazakhstan used real fire against protesters demanding better working conditions. In 2011, the price of liquefied car gas was about 30-35 tenge and has since risen several times. In January 2020, a protest rally took place in Zhanaozen, in which city residents called for a reduction in gas prices, from 55 to 65 tenge, and in January 2022 doubled to 120 ten (0.24 euros). According to Eurasianet, the peak was caused by the Kazakh government's policy of gradual transition to LPG marketing in the e-market that began in January 2019 to gradually end state subsidies to gas and allow the market to determine the price.

Facts

Protests began in the oil city of Janaozén, but quickly spread to other cities, including the largest, Almaty. In response, President Khassim-Jomart Tokhaiev introduced a state of emergency in the Manguistau district and in Almaty, effective January 5-19. On the first day of the measure, the government led by Prime Minister Askar Mamin resigned en bloc with Tokhaiev's approval. In response to a request from Tokhaiev, the country's military alliance the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty (OTSC) agreed to a deployment of Russian-led troops in the country to "pacify" it.

International reactions

The United States and Russia shouted

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