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Emergency Declared as Protests Rock Kazakhstan

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APTOPIX Kazakhstan Protests

President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev has declared a state of emergency in Kazakhstan, where protests have swept across the country, prompting the government to resign.

So far, there are no indications that the chaos has affected Kazakhstan's oil production of around 1.9 million barrels per day, although there were reports of oil-field workers going on strike in the western region of Mangistau.

The Chevron-led Tengizchevroil (TCO) joint venture, which accounts for over a third of the country's oil output, said some of its contractor employees had gathered at the Tengiz field in support of worker meetings taking place in Mangistau.

TCO added that it was working to resolve the situation "as soon as possible."

The protests were sparked by the government's decision to remove price caps for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is used as a fuel for cars.

They started in the western region of Zhanaozen on Jan. 2 but the unrest soon spread to the main cities, leading to clashes with police and security services.

Video images showed government buildings in various cities being set on fire and there were unconfirmed reports on Wednesday that protesters had seized control of the main airport in the commercial capital of Almaty.

In a televised address late Wednesday, Tokayev vowed to defend the country "robustly" and blamed the unrest on "destructive individuals who want to undermine the stability and unity of our society."

His swift reinstatement of price controls on LPG, gasoline and diesel did nothing to quell the unrest, however.

Perhaps the most significant development was Tokayev's announcement that he had taken over as head of the national security council, a position previously held by his long-serving predecessor as president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

This suggests that the Nazarbayev era — which began over 30 years ago in the final years of the Soviet Union — may now be over. During that time his close family amassed multibillion-dollar business portfolios.

In a town outside Almaty, protesters were filmed toppling a statue of Nazarbayev, who handed over the presidency to Tokayev in March 2019 and then took on a new specially created role of "Leader of the Nation."

He has not been seen for days and has reportedly traveled to Russia to receive medical treatment, although this could not be confirmed independently.

Topic:
Security Risk
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