State of emergency declared in Kazakhstan after violent protests over fuel prices

World

A state of emergency has been declared in Kazakhstan following major protests over fuel prices.

It includes a curfew running from 11pm to 7am, restrictions on movement, and a ban on mass gatherings, according to documents on the president’s website.

It has also been announced that a price cap controversially removed on New Year’s Day is to be restored.

Protesters use the torches on their smartphones in Almaty. Pic: AP
Image:
Protesters use the torches on their smartphones in Almaty. Pic: AP

Since it was lifted, the price of liquified petroleum gas (LPG), which many people use to power their cars in Kazakhstan, has doubled.

The government justified the change by saying the set price of 50 tenge a litre (10p) was unsustainable.

But protests erupted in several places and loud explosions could be heard in the biggest city, Almaty, after police ejected hundreds of protesters from the main square using tear gas and stun grenades.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has declared a two-week state of emergency in Almaty and in the western
Mangistau province, his office said.

“Calls to attack government and military offices are absolutely illegal,” he said in a video address a few hours earlier.

“The government will not fall, but we want mutual trust and dialogue rather than conflict.”

Riot police take up position in Almaty. Pic: AP
Image:
Riot police take up position in Almaty. Pic: AP

After the spike in prices, rallies attracting thousands of people erupted on Sunday in the town of Zhanaozen, an oil hub where there were deadly clashes between protesters and police a decade ago.

There were also demonstrations in Mangistau province and in western Kazakhstan.

Public protests are illegal in Kazakhstan unless organisers file notice in advance.

Mr Tokayev has said he will hold a government meeting on Wednesday to discuss the protesters’ demands.

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