Kazakhstan says 164 people died during the week of protest

Moscow-Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Health said on Sunday that 164 people had been killed in a country-shaking protest over the past week.

The numbers reported on the state news channel Khabar-24 are significantly higher than the previous tally. It is not clear whether deaths refer only to civilians or include law enforcement deaths. Kazakh officials said Sunday that 16 police or national guards were killed. Authorities have previously set the death toll of civilians at 26.

According to the ministry, most of the deaths (103 people) occurred in Almaty, the country’s largest city, where demonstrators seized and set fire to government buildings. The country’s ombudsman for children’s rights said three of the murdered were minors, including a four-year-old girl.

The ministry previously reported that more than 2,200 people sought treatment for those injured in protests, and the Ministry of Interior said about 1,300 guards were injured.

Epoch Times Photo
The body of the victim, covered in banner (R), lies near a military truck burned after the collision in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on January 6, 2022. (Vladimir Tretyakov via AP / NUR.KZ)
Epoch Times Photo
Kazakh soldiers rule the roads of Almaty in Kazakhstan on January 8, 2022. (Vladimir Tretyakov via AP / NUR.KZ)

The Kazakhstan presidential office said about 5,800 people were detained by police during a protest that led to violence last week and urged a Russian-led military alliance to send troops to the country.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokaev’s office said on Sunday that the country’s order was stable and authorities regained control of the administration building occupied by protesters.

Russian television station Mir-24 said sporadic shootings were heard in Almaty on Sunday, but it was unclear if they were warning shots by law enforcement agencies. Tokaev said on Friday that he had allowed police and the military to shoot to kill to restore order.

The airport in Almaty, which was occupied by protesters last week, remained closed but was scheduled to reopen on Monday.

Protests against soaring LPG fuel prices began on January 2 in the western part of the country and spread nationwide, reflecting dissatisfaction spreading beyond fuel prices.

Since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the same political party has ruled Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan’s oil, natural gas, uranium, and minerals.

Tokaev claims that the protests were ignited by foreign-backed “terrorists,” but the protests did not show clear leaders or organizations. A statement from his office on Sunday stated that the detention included “a significant number of foreigners,” but details were not disclosed.

It was unclear how many of those detained on Sunday remained in custody.

The former head of Kazakhstan’s counterintelligence and counterterrorism agencies was arrested on suspicion of attempted overthrow of the government. Karim Massimov’s arrest, announced on Saturday, took place a few days after he was dismissed by Tokaev as chairman of the National Security Commission.

No details were given about what Mashimov claimed to have done would constitute an attempt to overthrow the government. The commissar of state security, the successor to the KGB during the Soviet era, is responsible for counterintelligence, border guard services, and counterterrorism activities.

Officials say security forces killed 26 demonstrators in this week’s turmoil and killed 16 law enforcement officers.

At the request of Tokaev, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of the six former Soviet nations led by Russia, has approved the dispatch of approximately 2,500 primarily Russian troops to Kazakhstan as peacekeepers.

Some troops are guarding government facilities in the capital Nur-Sultan. As a result, “it has become possible to release some of the Kazakhstan law enforcement forces and relocate them to Almaty to participate in counter-terrorism operations.” Statement from Tokaev’s office.

Many demonstrators shouted “old man” as a sign that the demonstrators were deeply rooted as well as rising fuel prices. This is a reference to Nursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned from Kazakhstan’s independence in 2019 and was president until he anointed Tokaev as his successor.

Nazarbayev held considerable power as the head of the National Security Council. However, Tokaev replaced him as the head of the council in this week’s anxiety. Perhaps they are aiming for a concession to soften the protesters. However, according to Kazakh news agency KazTag, Nazarbayev’s adviser, Aido Ukibay, said it was led by Nazarbayev on Sunday.

Jim Heinz

Associated Press