More than 160 dead and 6,000 arrested since the beginning of the riots in Kazakhstan

The unrest in Kazakhstan caused 164 deaths and some 2,000 wounded, while the authorities announced this Sunday that they had arrested almost 6,000 people linked to these bloody riots that have rocked the largest country in Central Asia throughout the week.

The figures could not be confirmed by an independent source, but 103 of the deaths would have occurred in Almaty, the economic capital, according to various media, citing the Ministry of Health.

The balance has worsened: until then, official sources had indicated that 26 protesters (“armed criminals” he calls them) and 16 members of the security forces had died.

On Sunday afternoon, the statement disappeared from the government’s Telegram channel and the Ministry of Health told the Kazakh and Russian media that the information had been published by mistake.

However, there was no denial of the information and no new figures were provided.

In total, some 5,800 people have been detained, “among which there are many foreigners,” during 125 separate investigations, the Kazakh presidency said in a statement, without providing further details.

“The situation has stabilized throughout the country,” despite the fact that the security forces continue to carry out “cleaning” operations, the source added, after a crisis meeting called by the president, Kassym Jomart Tokayev.

Kazakhstan, a country of 19 million people rich in hydrocarbons, was rocked by unprecedented riots since its independence in 1989, in which dozens of people died.

The protest began last Sunday in the provinces due to the increase in gas prices, to spread to large cities, including Almaty, where riots broke out and police fired live bullets at protesters.

According to the Kazakh Interior Ministry, quoted this Sunday by the local press, the material damage was estimated at about 175 million euros (199 million dollars).

More than 100 companies and banks were looted and some 400 vehicles destroyed, according to the official source.

Almaty returned to relative calm in recent days, and there police officers fired shots into the air to prevent its inhabitants from approaching the central square of the city, an AFP journalist confirmed on Saturday.

A sign of the timid return to normality, some 30 supermarkets reopened this Sunday, according to the media, raising concerns about a possible shortage over the population.

The local airport, which should reopen on Monday, will remain closed “until the situation stabilizes,” authorities said Sunday.

On Saturday, the former director of intelligence services, Karim Massimov, the first important figure arrested, was arrested on suspicion of “high treason”.

In addition to the rising cost of living, the figure of former President Nazarbayev, who ruled with an iron fist from 1989 to 2019, is at the heart of the protesters’ anger.

His spokesman, Aidos Ukibai, denied again this Sunday that he had left the country, assuring that he supports Tokayev.

Following rumors about a power struggle, he also said that Tokayev voluntarily handed over the leadership of the National Security Council to Nazarbayev, following the announcement of the latter that he would take over the reins of the country.

In a virulent speech to the nation, Tokayev claimed on Friday that 20,000 “armed bandits” had attacked Almaty and authorized security forces to “shoot to kill” without warning.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, criticized this slogan on Sunday and called on the Kazakh government to abandon this policy.

“It’s something I absolutely reject. The shoot-to-kill order, as it stands, is wrong and should be rescinded,” President Joe Biden’s chief of diplomacy told ABC’s Sunday talk show This Week. .

In the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer, in St. Peter’s Square (Vatican), Pope Francis called for “dialogue” in this country, praying for “the dead and their families.”

The Kazakh crisis has also caused more tensions between Russia and the United States, in a context of difficult relations between the two powers.

Moscow deployed troops to the central Asian country, part of a multinational contingent from the regional Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), at Tokayev’s request.

The United States believes that it will be “very difficult” for Kazakhstan to pull off the Russian army, a criticism that Moscow called “rude” on Saturday.

Although US and Russian representatives will meet this Sunday night in Geneva to discuss Ukraine and Europe, Moscow rules out any discussion with Washington on Kazakhstan.

“This matter does not concern him at all,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov stressed this Sunday.


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