Kazakhstan Government Resigns, Emergency Declared

Kazakhstan’s government has resigned and a state of emergency has been declared in the central Asian country amid fiery unrest across the country, according to reports.

Kazakhstan rarely sees large scale protests of any kind and the nation is generally regarded as an authoritarian-leaning state.

Anger over fuel price increases sparked the protests, which quickly spread and embraced a more broadly anti-government tone in the former Soviet Republic.

Kazakh government resigns amid mass unrest

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev accepted the resignation of the government on January 5 but went on to threaten a severe crackdown on continuing unrest.

The president has promised that he will not flee the capital, the planned city of Nur-Sultan. In 2019 the capital city gained its current name in honor of  Nursultan Nazarbayev, the former president.

Nazarbayev was, at that point, the first and only president of Kazakhstan. He had led the country even before the fall of the Soviet Union and has been generally regarded as an authoritarian dictator.

The fact that the capital was named after him just days after his leaving office and that he continued to hold key positions in the government indicates that his authority was not really lessened by his 2019 resignation.

Tokayev, who succeeded him, is also a former member of the country’s Soviet-era ruling class and was clearly a handpicked heir for Nazarbayev.

The mobs of protesters and rioters in Kazakhstan calling for the resignation of the government have Nazarbayev in mind specifically and they have been chanting old slogans against the former ruler.

President announces new price caps

With the government out Tokayev is technically giving the protesters what they want, though that may not be enough to stop the unrest at this point.

Kazakhs who are angry enough at the government to risk demonstrating against it in a state which forcefully disrupts protests may not be willing to stop while Nazarbayev’s handpicked successor remains in place.

With a two week state of emergency declared, Tokayev has been attempting two simultaneous approaches to put an end to the unrest.

Mobile internet and messaging platforms were shut down across swathes of the country as the president promised to respond forcefully to any indications of violence.

At the same time, Tokayev has promised to address the “socio-economic demands” of the protesters in addition to allowing the ousting of his predecessor.

Tokayev announced that he will be enacting a price cap on liquefied petroleum gas to combat the price increases which launched the unrest and that his new cabinet will work to extend price caps to other key consumer goods.

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By Frank Bergman

Frank Bergman is a political/economic journalist living on the east coast. Aside from news reporting, Bergman also conducts interviews with researchers and material experts and investigates influential individuals and organizations in the sociopolitical world.

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