Kazakh Fuel Price Hike Triggers Massive Protests Government Resigns

The monument to Nazarbayev (the former president of Kazakhstan) in Taldykorgan was nevertheless demolished. At the same time, people sang the national anthem.
⠀And the state of emergency has now been introduced throughout Kazakhstan.

Since January 1, 2022, the price of LPG in Mangystau region  has risen sharply, causing dissatisfaction among local people. Protests and demonstrations broke out in many places including Aktau and Almaty, the capital of the state. According to Russian media reports on January 5, more than 200 people have been detained.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on the 5th that he has accepted the resignation of the government cabinet.

Internet communications throughout Kazakhstan have been interrupted, and many other media have reported that local telephone communications have also been cut off on a large scale.

Protesters occupied the city’s main road and marched. Some protesters set fire to several police cars and smashed windows in restaurants and shops, which escalated into radical protests. Armored vehicles and riot forces were deployed in Almaty’s city center. Police swung shields and threw tear gas and flash grenades at the protesters. The protest area covered in thick smoke went viral on social media. The protests continued all night until dawn.

As the situation worsened, President Tokayev declared a state of emergency for two weeks in Almaty and some areas, including Manghistau on the Caspian Sea, at 1:30 a.m. on the 5th. In these areas, traffic is restricted from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day, and assemblies and demonstrations are prohibited. “Attacking the government and the military is a punishable crime,” Tokaev said.

Prime Minister Ascar Mamin‘s cabinet resigned after taking responsibility for the violent protests. Deputy Prime Minister Arihan Smileov will serve as interim prime minister until a new cabinet is formed. According to the government’s announcement, about 200 citizens who took part in the protests in Almaty that day were detained on charges of violating public order.

Riot police build a barrier to deter protesters during protests against a rise in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on the 4th (local time).
A riot police builds a barrier to deter protesters during a protest against a rise in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on the 4th (local time).

The large-scale protests were triggered by the government-promoted increase in LPG prices. At the beginning of the year, the government completed the work of phasing out the subsidy for LPG, which was supplied at a price lower than the production unit price through the price cap system. In the southwestern Mangista Space, where oil and natural gas production is the main industry, but there is also a lot of demand for it, the price of LPG, which was traded at 60 tenge per liter (about 165 won) at gas stations in just a few days, has doubled to 120 tenge. As the price of LPG for vehicles is expected to rise, as well as an increase in logistics costs and a surge in overall prices, protests have begun in this area demanding a lowering of LPG prices from the 2nd.

The government promised to lower the price of LPG to 85 to 90 Tenge per liter, but protesters demanded that the price be reduced to 50 Tenge per liter, which is lower than the previous price. Unquenched protests spread across the country, including Kazakhstan’s economic center, Almaty, and the capital, Nur-Sultan.

Kazakhstan was ruled by former President Nursultan Nazarbayev for nearly 30 years from 1990 to 2019, just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and still reigns as the ‘supreme king’ above the president.