Countercurrents Collective | January 07, 2022
Riots flared up in several cities of Kazakhstan on January 2. Later they erupted in other cities, including in Almaty, the largest city in the country, and on January 5, the riots snowballed into mass riots and violence, along with looting and attacks on state buildings. The rioters beheaded 2 police officers. At least 18 security officers were killed by the rioters. Over 3,000 people have been detained. 26 armed rioters have been killed. Government offices, police headquarters and stations, TV centers, police vehicles were torched.
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has requested assistance of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a post-Soviet security bloc. The first units of peacekeepers have started fulfilling their assigned tasks in Kazakhstan.
A state of emergency has been declared all across Kazakhstan.
Mass protests erupted in the cities of Zhanaozen and Aktau in the Mangistau region in the country’s southwest on January 2, where residents protested against fuel price hikes. Two days later, riots erupted in Almaty in the country’s southeast, where police used stun grenades to disperse crowds and also in other cities, in particular, in Atyrau and Aktobe in the west, Uralsk in the northwest, Taraz, Shymkent and Kyzylorda in the south, Karaganda in the northeast and in the capital of Nur-Sultan.
On January 5, Kazakh President Tokayev dismissed the government. Its members continue discharging their duties until a new cabinet is approved.
The CSTO peacekeepers were called in by Tokayev on Wednesday as Kazakhstan faced a wave of mass unrest, originally triggered by a sharp hike in fuel prices at the start of the New Year. The protests grew increasingly violent and political in a matter of days – despite the government’s concessions to protesters’ demands – with multiple locations across the country hit by street violence, arson and rioting.
Almaty, the old capital and Kazakhstan’s most populous city, has seen the worst of the chaos, as the megapolis has been overrun by rioters, some armed with guns allegedly looted from police armories. Over the last few days, mobs have torched government buildings, ransacked multiple stores, banks and ATMs, and engaged in clashes with police and military forces.
In Almaty, hundreds of people stormed the mayor’s office and the old presidential residence. The rioters also attacked police HQ and blocked roads in the city.
The situation in Kazakhstan remains tense after Thursday clashes in Almaty. However, Kazakh security forces have restored control over all city administrations and regional police HQs, the state-run broadcaster Khabar 24 has reported.
A report on January 6, 2022 from Belgrade (https://www.reddit.com/r/N_N_N/comments/rxi2tz/foreign_spy_agencies_behind_riots_in_kazakhstan/) said:
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters on Thursday: Foreign intelligence services are behind the mass riots in Kazakhstan, which will result in hundreds or thousands of deaths and a looted country for years to come,.
In a comment on the Serbian oligarchs’ claims about their upcoming victory in the April 3 presidential election, Vucic said: I do not think that the oligarchs hope to defeat a candidate, who calls for Serbia’s prosperity, they are not that silly and uninformed, they know that our people appreciate the achieved progress and know what people think. They say this because they think that someone with big money will push them in Serbia to stage riots in the country. So that they stage something what is happening in Kazakhstan, where will be hundreds or thousands of deaths, a looted country for years to come, where foreign services of various major forces have interfered. Probably, they want the same thing to happen in Serbia,” Vucic said.
Airports Seized To Thwart CSTO Forces’ Deployment, Says Lukashenko
According to the Belarussian news agency BelTA, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated on Thursday: Extremists seized airports in Kazakhstan to prevent the deployment of the CSTO’s forces,.
“They set on fire everything they could, they seized the airport, and did this on purpose. Both in Almaty and Nur-Sultan there was an attempt to seize the airport. This was a deliberate act,” Lukashenko said. “That is because they understood that military forces would be deployed there, first of all of Russia and [other] CSTO states.”
The Belarusian president explained that the radicals sought to take these airports “under control to prevent the landing there.”
Lukashenko also said consultations on the situation in Kazakhstan were held the entire night. “Consultations were held the entire night, we monitored the situation with Putin and held talks several times,” he said.
Lukashenko shared details of his night talks on Kazakhstan, decision to deploy peacekeepers.
The January 6, 2022 BelTA report (https://eng.belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-shares-details-of-his-night-talks-on-kazakhstan-decision-to-deploy-peacekeepers-146797-2022/) said:
Lukashenko shared the details of his overnight talks on the situation in Kazakhstan and the decision to deploy the peacekeeping forces in that country.
“You know what is happening in Kazakhstan. We are very concerned about the pre-planned nature of the events. We were in consultations all night. We were following the developments together with Vladimir Putin. We talked over phone several times,” the president said.
According to him, the situation in Almaty was very disturbing: “They set on fire everything they could. They seized the airport. They did it purposefully. There were attempts to seize the airports in Almaty and Nur-Sultan. Those were purposeful actions. Because they knew that the armed forces, primarily those of Russia and the CSTO countries, would be deployed there. They wanted to take control over the airports to make sure no one could land there. Fortunately, 40km away from Almaty, there is a military airfield controlled by the military. The attempt to seize the airport in Nur-Sultan failed at the time of my conversation with Tokayev.”
“The riots in Kazakhstan are very much the same as they were in Belarus: mostly former convicts, the resentful and others,” the Belarusian leader said.
In this regard, Lukashenko recalled the previous events in Kyrgyzstan: “We must not forget what happened to my friend Bakiyev in his homeland as well. There are professional soldiers of the revolution there, more than one thousand. They keep silent to a certain point. Then they spring into action. Developments in Afghanistan, other countries are not encouraging either.”
“But, most important is that events were coordinated and planned in many cities. The distance is thousands of kilometers. In terms of territory, Kazakhstan is probably larger than the whole of Europe. Or Western Europe, that is for sure. Huge distances, freezing weather, and so on and so forth. But nevertheless, everything happened synchronously. Everything was pre-planned. In terms of coordination, the external interference is obvious,” the head of state said.
According to Lukashenko, the information that the CSTO would provide assistance to Kazakhstan had an effect on the situation. “They did not even attempt to approach the residence in the morning. The CSTO already issued a statement that it would provide support,” he said.
“We, the CSTO heads of state, were in consultations during the night. There should be a consensus. We made a decision during the night,” the Belarusian leader said. “We will set up reserves. If we need to redeploy troops, we will do it. These peacekeeping forces – the CSTO troops which are meant for that – were making preparations during the night. We decided to deploy troops there.”
According to Lukashenko, he also asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide aircraft for that purpose. “We need to transport our hardware and other things. We agreed that we must embark on this peacekeeping mission and help people.”
“Therefore, the troops are currently being redeployed to Kazakhstan from Moscow by train. Our peacekeepers will go there from Minsk by air. Our peacekeeping unit is meant for work in such conditions. They have had enough training and exercises,” the president said.
“We understand that we cannot give Kazakhstan away. Even our journalists said that we cannot give it away as it will be such a great gift. Like Ukraine for the USA, NATO. Therefore, I want you to understand the exact reasons for deploying peacekeepers there,” Lukashenko concluded.
Mass Protests In Kazakhstan Advantageous for US, says Ukrainian Expert
Mikhail Pogrebinsky, Director of the Kiev Center for Political Research and Conflict Study, said on Wednesday stressed that “it is impossible to believe that the Kazakh protests erupted spontaneously”
Mass protests in Kazakhstan that erupted amidst escalation between Russia and the West are not accidental, Pogrebinsky said on Wednesday.
“Hardly anyone will dispute the fact that this erupted so timely, amidst the escalation between Russia and the West,” the Ukrainian expert wrote on his Facebook.
The ongoing developments in Kazakhstan “are advantageous for Americans at least for three reasons,” Pogrebinsky pointed out.
First of all, this makes it possible “to distract Moscow’s attention from Donbass towards a partner of the CSTO,” the expert said.
Also, the protests in Kazakhstan may “presumably exacerbate the relations between Moscow and Beijing: they hardly have equal interests in Nur-Sultan,” he said.
The Ukrainian expert also did not rule out that the riots in Kazakhstan were aimed at provoking Russia.
“Thirdly, the aim is, if it succeeds, to provoke Moscow to participate in suppressing protests with quite predictable consequences for Moscow for years to come,” he wrote.
As the expert stressed, “it is impossible to believe that the Kazakh protests erupted spontaneously.” “Otherwise, why have they been supporting thousands of non-governmental organizations,” he said.
Critical Red Alert
Media reports said:
Major shootout took place in Central Almaty.
Kazakh authorities have imposed a “critical red” terror threat level in the country. This means that troops will be allowed to carry out personal inspections, check people’s things and vehicles, temporarily restrict or prohibit their movement, enter apartments and other premises and even monitor communications.
Casualties were reported as rioters barricaded in broadcaster Mir’s office in Almaty.
“Our colleagues said that, according to their information, shots were heard all night in the city [of Almaty], and can still be heard. In addition, a group of extremists barricaded the building of the TV channel Mir in Republic Square. There are casualties, the corpses are lying right on the streets”, a Khabar 24 correspondent said.
Authorities have established checkpoints around Nur-Sultan, the capital city.
Police has intercepted weapons en route to Nur-Sultan. Police has also detained several buses carrying people to capital.