Article

January 21, 2022

The 2022 revolt in Kazakhstan began after a sudden rise in fuel prices. The protests began in the oil town of Janaozen but quickly spread to other cities, and turned into a riot during the night of January 4 to 5, leading the Kazakh president to declare a state of emergency, initially in Almaty and in the district of Manguistaou, then throughout the entire territory. At the same time, the government presents its resignation and the Head of State takes the head of the National Security Council. Faced with a revolt over which the government was rapidly losing control, the president then announced that he was asking for help from the CSTO, which announced a few hours later the decision to send “peacekeeping forces”. This revolt will also be qualified as a "Western terrorist attack" by the President of Kazakhstan, who will refuse any negotiation with the demonstrators.

Background

Kazakhstan has been governed since its independence (1990) by Noursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned from the presidency of the republic in 2019, but who has since had the title of head of the nation which gives him broad powers. New President Kassym-Jomart Tokaev's first step is to propose renaming the capital Astana to Nursultan, after President Nazarbayev's first name. He calls an early presidential election for June 9. He won the presidential election with 70.8% of the vote. This figure of 70% is however much lower than the results of his predecessor Nazarbayev who always obtained more than 80%. The election and the electoral campaign are criticized by OSCE observers for the detention of many demonstrators, irregularities during the vote, the limitation of the right to information and freedom of expression, the biased coverage of the campaign by the media as well as the lack of pluralism in the candidacies. Noursultan Nazarbayev actually retains the main levers of Kazakh power. On May 2, 2020, Dariga Nazarbayeva, the daughter of Nursultan, was replaced from her position as President of the Senate by Mäulen Äşimbaev, former director of the presidential campaign of Tokayev and then of the presidential administration. Since 2019, the government of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has been implementing a series of laws aimed at accentuating the liberalization of the economy, in particular by letting the market decide on fuel prices, hitherto subsidized. The subsequent price increases triggered the first protests in early January. However, if the price of fuel is the trigger for the protest, the causes are more diverse: "This movement is deep. It comes from strikes that have broken out everywhere, such as in Tengizchevroil (en), Karaganda, Satpayev, on the part of employees, miners, truck drivers who are overwhelmed by low wages, rising prices and poor working conditions. Despite promises to freeze gas prices or increase wages, people no longer trust the executive, resulting in anger that continues."

Events

January 2

Janaozen is a city with a tradition of protests since the independence of Kazakhstan, and where a massacre took place in 2011 during the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of Kazakh independence. On the morning of January 2, 2022, residents of Janaozen block the road to protest against rising fuel prices. Therefore, the demonstrators are calling on Energy Minister Nourlan Nogayev and Mayor Maqsat İbağarov to take measures to stabilize prices and prevent fuel shortages. The Minister of Energy replies that neither the regional authorities nor his ministry can influence the gas prices which

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