Kazakhstan: Protests over fuel prices turn violent in Almaty, demonstrators attack presidential building

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Image Source : AP

Smoke rises from the city hall building during a protest in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. News outlets in Kazakhstan are reporting that demonstrators protesting rising fuel prices broke into the mayor’s office in the country’s largest city and flames were seen coming from inside. 

Kazakhstan Protest News: Demonstrators angered by rising fuel prices broke into the mayor’s office in Kazakhstan’s largest city on Wednesday and attempted to break into the residence of the Central Asian country’s president, according to local news reports.

Flames were seen coming from a floor of the mayoral building after the break-in, the reports said, but it was unclear how extensive the fire was.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the presidential residence in Almaty and reportedly tried to break in. A fire at the city prosecutor’s office also was reported.   

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Many of the demonstrators who converged on the mayoral building in Almaty carried clubs and shields, the Kazakh news site Zakon said.

Protests against a sharp increase in prices for liquefied gas began this week in the country’s west.  

As the protests spread to Almaty and Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan, the government resigned.

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Despite the government’s reisgnation, all ministers will remain in their posts until a new Cabinet is formed – and it remained unclear if the move would result in policy changes or have any effect of the growing protests

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared a state of emergency in Almaty, imposing an overnight curfew and limiting access to the city.  He later imposed a state of emergency for two weeks in the capital.  

At the start of the year, prices for the gas that is used to power many vehicles roughly doubled as the government concluded a shift away from price controls.  

Dozens of police vehicles were set on fire or vandalized in Almaty, reports said.

Although Kazakhstan has extensive gas and oil reserves and mineral wealth, discontent over poor living conditions is strong in some parts of the country.

Many Kazakhs also chafe at the dominance of the ruling party that holds more than 80% of the seats in parliament.

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