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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Kazakhstan: President gives shoot-to-kill order against protesters

🔴 After days of violent protests, Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev vowed to destroy "armed bandits" and gave "special thanks" to Russia's Vladimir Putin for sending troops to quell the unrest.

By: Deutsche Welle |
January 7, 2022 4:29:41 pm
Riot police walk to block demonstrators during a protest in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. (AP)

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Friday declared that constitutional order was “mainly restored” after the unprecedented unrest in recent days.

Protests had erupted over surging fuel prices and escalated into an uprising against corruption. Violent clashes between protesters and security forces left dozens of demonstrators and forces killed.

In a televised address on Friday, Tokayev said he had given security forces orders to open fire without warning if there were further disturbances.

The president made reference to “20,000 bandits” who had attacked the country’s largest city of Almaty and vowed to destroy them.

“Terrorists continue to damage property […] and use weapons against civilians. I have given the order to law enforcement to shoot to kill without warning,” Tokayev said in his third televized address to the nation this week.

‘Criminals’ killed

In an earlier statement on Friday, Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry said that “26 armed criminals were killed and 18 were injured.”

The deadly street battles in Kazakhstan began as protests over surging fuel prices. (AP)

Authorities said there have also been 3,000 arrests, according to state broadcaster Khabar 24 citing the interior ministry.

Security has been bolstered across the country, with 70 checkpoints operating around the clock.

On Thursday, authorities said 18 security personnel had been killed, including one who had been beheaded.

Journalist Bruce Pannier told DW that the figures of those killed were probably far higher than the ones provided by government, and that “anti-terrorist operations” were taking place across the country.

A demonstrator gives back a shield to a riot police officer during a protest in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday. (AP)

“They’re probably low after last night. The information I saw today suggested that there was what they’re calling ‘anti-terrorist operations’ going on in other cities in the south, in Shymkent and also in the Kyzylorda province, or Oblast too,” Pannier said.

“So they’re expanding their security operation — there were deaths reported in those areas that I just mentioned, and those are just the ones that we know.”

Special thanks to Russia

Tokayev thanked Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for sending troops, and said that a Russian-led peacekeeping force would be in the country on a short-term basis.

The president had earlier confirmed that a peacekeeping force from the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization had arrived in Kazakhstan.

In this photo taken from video released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, military vehicles of Russian peacekeepers parked waiting to be uploaded on Russian military planes at an airfield outside Moscow, in Russia to fly to Kazakhstan on Jan 6, 2022. (AP)

Russian news agency Interfax cited Russia’s Defense Ministry as saying that military units were flying into Kazakhstan “round the clock” and were in control of the airport in Almaty, which was captured by protesters on Wednesday.

According to the Kazakh government, the organization’s forces have been arriving in the country but have not been involved in the “elimination of militants.”

Moscow said this week that the organization’s forces would number 2,500. The deployment came after an appeal for assistance from Tokayev.

The contingent is made up of armed forces from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Kazakh law enforcement officers block a street during a protest triggered by fuel price increase in Almaty, Kazakhstan January 5, 2022. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, TASS news agency cited local media reports that some airports would gradually begin operations again at 3:00 p.m. local time (09:00 UTC).

US says ‘world will be watching’

The United States indicated that events in Kazakhstan were not going unnoticed and that it lent full support to the country’s constitutional institutions. “The United States and, frankly, the world will be watching for any violation of human rights,” US state department spokesman Ned Price told media on Thursday.

In a separate statement made by Price, he said that the US gave its “full support for Kazakhstan’s constitutional institutions and media freedom and advocated for a peaceful, rights-respecting resolution to the crisis.”

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