After a week of unrest and relentless repression in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, after killing dozens of people in Central Asia’s largest country, the Internet has been restored and life has gradually returned to normal.
In the economic capital of 1.8 million people, the site of the most violent riots, local and foreign websites were re-accessed on Monday, declaring a day of mourning after the worst unrest in the history of the former Soviet republic’s independence. For the first time since the violence began, public transport was seen on Almaty’s roads, AFP reporters reported.
Kazakhstan has portrayed the Almaty riots as an attack by “terrorist groups” and expressed dissatisfaction in the foreign media with the events that began on January 2 with protests against rising fuel prices in the west of the country.
On Sunday evening, the Ministry of Information withdrew a report released on the official Telegram channel, according to which more than 164 people had died in the violence in the country.
– “Technical error” –
He explained to two private websites that its spread was the result of a “technical error”. However, there is no new estimate.
The death toll from 164, which could not be verified independently, said authorities had so far killed 26 protesters and 16 security forces members and wounded more than 2,000.
In a statement to reporters on Monday, the foreign ministry said foreign media reports “created a false impression that the Kazakh government was targeting peaceful protesters. Our security forces confronted the crowd. Violent acts of shameless acts of terrorism.”
The president announced on Sunday that 5,800 people had been arrested, including “significant numbers of foreigners”, and that 125 investigations had been launched in the wake of the unprecedented riots since independence in 1989, in a country of 19 million people with hydrocarbons.
After the increase of gas prices, the demonstration in the provinces began in the provinces before reaching large cities including Alorati, where police shot direct ammunition on demonstrators who attacked official buildings.
According to the Kazakh Interior Ministry, the material damage caused by the violence was initially estimated at about 175 million euros.
More than 100 businesses and banks were looted and more than 400 vehicles were destroyed, according to the same source.
Kareem Massimov, the former director of Kazakhstan’s intelligence, announced on Saturday that he had arrested on Saturday the first major person to be arrested on suspicion of “high treason.”
– “Shoot to kill” –
President Djokovic, who has denied any involvement with protesters, on Friday authorized his forces to “shoot and kill.”
Condemning the order, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told the ABC on Sunday that “the authorities in Kazakhstan must ensure that the challenges they face are peaceful and that the rights of peaceful protesters are protected.”
Almaty bore the scars of Sunday’s violence, with building facades blackened by flames and burning car wreckage piled up in the streets.
In addition to the rising cost of living, the image of former President Narsultan Nazarbayev, who ruled Kazakhstan with an iron fist from 1989 to 2019, crystallized the anger of protesters.
His spokesman, Aïdos Oukibaï, Mr. Nazarbayev denied on Sunday that he had left the country. Promised to support Tokayev.
In the wake of rumors of a power struggle, Nazarbayev on his own initiative appointed Mr Nazarbaye as head of the National Security Council. He also said he gave up on Tokayo.
The situation in Kazakhstan is being followed with concern abroad. Pope Francis expressed his “pain” on Sunday and called for “dialogue” to find peace.
At Tokyo’s invitation, Moscow has sent troops to the Central Asian country as part of a Group of International Cooperation Agreements (CSTO).
The United States has said the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kazakhstan is “extremely difficult”, while Moscow has criticized it as a “cross on Saturday”.