At least 164 people have been killed in riots in Kazakhstan this week, with authorities continuing their relentless repression in Central Asia’s largest country and arresting nearly 6,000, according to a new sharp rise in numbers.
Several media outlets reported on Sunday, citing the health ministry, that 103 people had been killed in Almaty, the economic capital where the most violent riots took place.
This balance, which cannot be verified independently, is increasing. Authorities say 26 protesters and 16 security forces have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded so far.
The president announced on Sunday that 5,800 people had been arrested and 125 investigations launched in the wake of these unprecedented riots since independence in 1989, a country of 19 million people rich in hydrocarbons.
“The situation is stable in all parts of the country,” he said, adding that although security forces were still carrying out “clean-up operations”, the presidency was announced after a critical meeting with President Qasim-Jomar Tokayev.
After the increase in gas prices last Sunday, the police fired direct ammunition on demonstrators who blocked official buildings, including the major cities including Alorati.
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.”
President Djokovic, who has denied any involvement with protesters, on Friday authorized his forces to “shoot and kill.”
– Scary reopening –
Supermarkets reopened in Almaty on Sunday, signaling a return to a terrifying normalcy, the AFP said, citing concerns about a shortage of people.
Especially in recent days there has been a long queue of vehicles lined up in front of petrol stations.
However, in Almaty, on Saturday, police fired several shots into the sky to prevent them from approaching the city’s central square, a sign of still ruling tension.
Almaty still bears the scars of violence, building facades darkened by flames and burnt car wreckage littering 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.
– Pope’s “pain” –
The situation in Kazakhstan is being followed with concern abroad, with Pope Francis expressing his “pain” on Sunday and calling for “dialogue” to find peace.
This crisis has created tensions between Russia and the United States, in the context of the growing tensions between these two powers.
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 described the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kazakhstan as “extremely difficult”, as Moscow described on Saturday as “rude.”
While the US and Russian delegations are due to talk about Ukraine and Europe in Geneva on Sunday evening, Moscow has ruled out any discussion with Washington about Kazakhstan.
On Sunday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybkov said “this question does not concern them.”
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