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Kazakhstan crisis

Date: 08 January 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The government of Kazakhstan has stepped down amidst violent protests across the country due to raising of fuel prices.

 

Background

Kazakhstan is one of most stable ex-soviet republics in central Asia. The recent events indicate changing winds.

 

Details

  • Many protestors and law enforcement officials were killed during an operation to restore order in the main city, Almaty.

  • Former patron, Russia has sent in its troops to assist Kazakh personnel in their efforts to restore order in the country. 

  • Kazakhstan, being a member of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) led by Russia, requested for assistance under the treaty.

  • Member countries of the CSTO are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

 

The move by President

  • President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has demanded resignation of cabinet to reduce violent protests and asked acting cabinet to control LNG prices.

  • The protesting groups have continued storming government offices and capturing police vehicles. The government was forced to shut down internet.

 

Reasons for protest

  • Recently, the government lifted price caps for LPG, which is commonly used in vehicles. This led to doubling of fuel prices in the oil-rich country.

  • Protests first started in oil city of Zhanaozen. Later they turned violent in cities and towns across the country.

  • Protestors are demanding that the prices of LPG be reduced and the government resigns. This is the biggest wave of protests in Kazakhstan’s history.

 

Situation in the country

  • The protestors believe that increase in fuel prices will causes steep increase in food prices that in turn can deepen inequality.

  • Currently, the inflation rate is at five-year high at 9 percent year-on-year. The pandemic has further eroded income of citizens.

 

Political implications

  • Long time ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down and his hand-picked successor won the election, which was alleged to be rigged.

  • Nazarbayev still enjoys considerable power and influence. The anti-Nazarbayev sentiment is at its peak and people are openly criticizing the government.

 

Significance

  • Tokayev was among the leaders of five Central Asian nations, who were invited to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations this month.

  • Crisis is causing considerable concern in neighbouring Russia and China, both of which are key strategic partners of Kazakhstan.