Large-scale protests in Kazakhstan continue, and its leaders have authorized security forces to “fire without warning.” U.S. Secretary of State Blinken voiced doubts, and Kazakhstan sought Russian military assistance.
“You can shoot without warning”
The anti-government protests in Kazakhstan were violently suppressed. The leader of Kazakhstan said that he ordered the security forces to “fire without warning.”
Kazakhstan President Tokayev also stated that “20,000 robbers” attacked Almaty, the country’s main city. Almaty is the center of protests triggered by rising fuel prices.
He accused “terrorists” trained abroad, but did not provide evidence.
The Ministry of Interior of Kazakhstan said that so far, 26 “armed criminals” and 18 security officials have been killed in the riots.
In his televised speech, Tokayev refuted the call for talks with the protesters, calling it “nonsense” and said: “What kind of talks can we hold with criminals and murderers?”
“We must deal with heavily armed and well-prepared bandits, whether local or foreign. To be more precise, terrorists. So we must destroy them. This will be done soon.”
Opposition groups refuted the authorities’ allegations of terrorism.
Tokayev also stated that at his request, peacekeeping forces sent by Russia and neighboring countries have arrived in the country and are temporarily staying there to ensure safety.
U.S. Secretary of State questioned
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken questioned that Kazakhstan sought Russian military assistance in response to continued violent disturbances.
Rising fuel prices in Kazakhstan triggered protests, killing dozens of people. But Blinken said that the United States believes that the Kazakhstan government can respond to the protests on its own.
He told reporters that it is still unclear why such a deployment was made.
The Russian-led force has approximately 2,500 people, and the first group has already arrived in Kazakhstan.
Officials in Moscow emphasized that Russia’s deployment of troops under the Collective Security Treaty Organization is temporary. The Collective Security Treaty Organization is an Eurasian military alliance composed of five former Soviet republics and Russia.
After the protesters rushed into the office of the mayor of Almaty, Kazakhstan, and rushed into the city’s airport, President Tokayev made a request for assistance.
But Brinken warned in a speech to reporters at the U.S. State Department press conference: “One lesson of modern history is that once Russians enter your home, it is sometimes difficult to get them to leave.”
“In my opinion, the Kazakh authorities and government must be able to properly handle the protests, not only to respect the rights of the protesters, but also to maintain law and order.” Brinken said.
“So it’s not clear why they feel they need any external assistance. So we are working hard to learn more.”
Some Russian paratroopers have arrived in Kazakhstan and assisted the Kazakh army in retaking the airport from the protesters on Friday.
At the same time, the Kazakh army took firm action to regain control of Almaty. On Thursday, local media released a video of government forces opening fire on protesters.
What do the locals think?
BBC correspondent Abdujalil Abdurasulov (Abdujalil Abdurasulov) from Almaty
Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, looks like a doomsday movie.
Driving around early on Friday morning, the air still smelled of burning cars. There are almost no people around, and many people are too scared to go to the streets.
The army and police blocked the main locations of the city, which is the center of national protests against the government.
When we approached the soldiers in the main square, they yelled at us and fired warning shots into the air to warn us not to approach.
Several residents I interviewed were shocked and angry. These protests are unprecedented in Kazakhstan, and many people here are surprised that the protests can spread so quickly and become violent.
Some of the people I talked to were very happy to see the arrival of Russian and other neighboring countries’ troops, hoping that they would restore order.
A woman told me that the government should be firmer from the start.
“If they used force in the first place, this riot would not happen,” she said. “Maybe they are worried about being condemned and worried that they used weapons, but you now see what this has caused.”
But in the anger at the violence, there is also sympathy for the protesters. Many demonstrators came from rural areas, where wages are low and life is difficult.
“I understand the protesters’ demands,” said a 22-year-old chef. “We can see that our wages have not increased and most people are struggling to survive. But now this is robbery and hooliganism, and ordinary people are suffering. . This must stop.”