In 2021, the world market saw a significant increase in natural gas prices. In this regard, the increase in its export from Kazakhstan by commercial producers has worsened its deficit in the domestic market, observed for a number of years due to the very low price of this product for local consumers.
To correct the existing imbalances and create conditions for the formation of a market price for gas based on supply and demand in the domestic market, a new system of wholesale gas sales through electronic trading platforms was introduced in Kazakhstan on January 1, 2022. The new market mechanism caused a simultaneous, almost twofold increase in the retail price of liquefied petroleum gas – from 50-60 to 110-120 tenge per liter.
Due to the fact that the majority of road transport in Mangystau region uses this type of fuel, many residents of the region considered unacceptable the impact on their household budgets, as a result of which some residents of Zhanaozen city attended unauthorized protest actions on January 2, 2022.
In view of the wide resonance in Kazakh media and social networks, the President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev publicly responded through his personal Twitter account and instructed the Government “to consider the situation from the point of view of economic feasibility and in the legal field”. At the same time, it was pointed out separately that “citizens have the right to publicly express demands to local and central authorities, but this should be done in accordance with the law, in particular the law on peaceful assemblies”, without violating public order.
To continue the dialogue with the participants of the protest actions and find a solution to the problem, the Government, on behalf of the President, formed a state commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov working in Mangystau region. An operational staff was also created for “finding a mutually acceptable solution to the problems that have arisen in the interests of stability in our country”.
As a result of negotiations with representatives of protesting citizens in the afternoon of January 4, 2022, a decision was announced ensuring the price reduction to 50 tenge per 1 liter of gas. In addition, the protesters’ demand for the release of persons detained for violations of law and order in the previous two days was met.
Kazakhstan also launched an investigation an investigation on suspicion of price collusion against six wholesale sellers of liquefied natural gas.
It should be noted that in Kazakhstan, President K.Tokayev has been implementing the concept of a “Listening State”, which is based on the consistent strengthening of mechanisms and practices of dialogue between state bodies and civil society. Legislation on peaceful assemblies has been liberalized. At the same time, in cases of violation of law and order and threats to the security of citizens and society, law enforcement agencies have the authority to apply necessary measures to ensure compliance with the laws of Kazakhstan.
Unfortunately, in the cities of Aktau and Almaty on January 4, 2022, protest actions turned into mass riots, which led to attacks on civil servants and law enforcement officers, as well as on the buildings of local executive bodies. At the same time, the actions of the law enforcement forces were extremely restrained, no firearms were used, which allowed human casualties and serious injuries to be avoided.
On January 5, 2022, there were organized attacks on administrative and military facilities, the seizure of the airport, and the attempted capture of foreign passenger and cargo planes in Almaty. This indicates a high level of training and coordination of the attackers’ actions. The analysis shows that Kazakhstan is facing an armed invasion by terrorist groups trained abroad.
Chairman of the Security Council of Kazakhstan, K.Tokayev, called the forces that attacked Kazakhstan “real terrorists” and noted the need to conduct a counter-terrorist operation in order to repel them.
According to President K.Tokayev, these terrorist gangs are fundamentally international, having received serious training abroad, and their attack should be considered as an act of aggression.
Relying on the Collective Security Treaty, K.Tokayev addressed heads of state of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with a request for military assistance in overcoming the terrorist threat that undermines the integrity of the state and attacks the citizens of Kazakhstan who have turned to the Head of State for urgent assistance in their protection.
Chairman of the Collective Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Prime Minister of Armenia N.Pashinyan, confirmed the agreement of the heads of the CSTO member states to send joint peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan for a limited period of time.
The legal basis for the deployment of Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the CSTO in Kazakhstan are Articles 2 and 4 of the Collective Security Treaty, the Agreement on Peacekeeping Activities and the request of the President of Kazakhstan for the provision of necessary assistance.
The mandate of the peacekeeping forces includes the protection of strategic facilities and helping Kazakhstan law enforcement services. Fighting the terrorist groups is carried out by the law enforcement agencies and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Against the background of mass riots, President K.Tokayev announced a state of emergency from January 5 to January 19, 2022 throughout the country. For the duration of the state of emergency, a curfew is imposed from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The state of emergency imposes a number of temporary restrictions on the movement of citizens and the activities of individuals and legal entities in order to ensure public security. The State of Emergency Law also provides for the possibility of introducing temporary restrictions on the operation of telecommunication networks.
The Kazakhstan government hopes that these measures will help stabilize the situation and create conditions for the resumption of a broad constructive dialogue between state bodies and the protesters.
On January 5, President K.Tokayev also announced the future plan of “political transformation” of Kazakhstan. At the same time, the President assured that he continues to remain at his post in the capital of Kazakhstan.
The main task today, according to K.Tokayev, is the defense of our country and our citizens. Kazakhstan will continue to ensure the rights and interests of all representatives of our multi-ethnic and multi-religious people, as well as the safety of foreign citizens in the country, including the diplomatic corps and journalists. Foreign investments and businesses of foreign companies will be protected.
Chairman of the Senate, Maulen Ashimbayev, appealed to Kazakhstanis to support the Head of State in such a difficult moment and called for unity and social cohesion.
President K.Tokayev gave the Government a number of urgent instructions, including:
* the National Bank and the Agency for regulation and development of the financial market mandated to ensure the restoration of a stable and uninterrupted operation of the second-tier banks and other financial institutions after the stabilization of the situation;
* instructed to take measures for the protection of diplomatic missions and entities foreign investment and business of foreign companies;
* the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan instructed to maintain regular relations with foreign states, international organizations, and other partners on all current issues of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Hundreds of people who ensure law and order and public health – law enforcement officers, doctors, as well as other residents of Almaty, including the elderly – were injured. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as of 5 p.m. on January 7, 2022, as a result of riots in Kazakhstan, 748 police officers and national guard soldiers were injured, and 18 were killed.
As of January 7, 2022, the internal affairs bodies detained 3.811 people, 26 armed criminals were killed and 26 were wounded across the country. 70 terrorist and 30 looters were detained in Almaty during a special operation.
The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan has opened criminal cases on the fact of organizing and participating in mass riots. A pre-trial investigation has also been launched into the commission of an act of terrorism. Organizers and participants of mass riots would face from 8 years in prison to life, with deprivation of citizenship.
According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, 33 cases of attacks on fire tracks were registered, 75 fires were extinguished, 10 employees received various injuries, including gunshot wounds.
According to the National Chamber of Enterpreneurs «Atameken», the riots caused damage to business by 78 billion tenge.
On the morning of January 7, the President of Kazakhstan held a meeting of the counter-terrorism staff with the participation of the leadership of the Presidential Administration, the Security Council and law enforcement agencies.
On January 7, Kazakhstan introduced a “critical red” level of terrorist danger. An anti-terrorist operation regime has been established in all regions of the country.
According to the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Dauren Abayev, law and order has been restored in all regions of the country.
As the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Shakhrat Nuryshev noted, according to the CSTO Secretary General S.Zas the total number of the peacekeeping contingent sent by the CSTO is 2500 people. The servicemen arrived from Russia, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus. The first forces are sent to Almaty. It is highlighted that the CSTO soldiers do not participate in combat operations, and do not deal with the elimination of militants, will perform cover and security functions.
On January 7, at 2.30 p.m., the President K.Tokayev made another televised address to the people of Kazakhstan. During his address, the Head of State noted that on January 11, the in Mazhilis will be announced specific decisions, including those of a socio-economic nature aimed at preventing such tragedies in the future.
According to President K. Tokayev “The anti-terrorist operation continues in our country. The police, the national guard and the army are carrying out large-scale and well-coordinated efforts to restore law and order in accordance with the Constitution. The implementation of the state of emergency is ensuring results. Constitutional legitimacy is being restored across the country”.
However according to the President “terrorists continue to cause damage to public and private property and use weapons against citizens.”
“I have given orders to law enforcement agencies and the army to, where necessary, open fire without warning”, the President highlighted.
“We have had to deal with armed and trained bandits, both local and foreign. They must be eliminated, and this will be done soon. Law enforcement forces are morally and technically ready to perform this task”, noted the President.
As the President stressed, “contingent has arrived in the country for a short period of time to perform supporting functions.”
The Head of State also thanked the Presidents of the Russian Federation and other CSTO member states for agreeing to provide such assistance.
As the tragedy of Almaty and other cities of Kazakhstan has shown, it is precisely “non-compliance with laws, permissiveness, and anarchy that lead to human rights violations”, the President highlighted.
Actions of bandits according to the President “showed a clear plan of attacks on military, administrative and social facilities, coordination of actions, high combat readiness and brutal cruelty.”
“It seems that their training and leadership were handled by a single command post. The National Security Committee and the Prosecutor General’s Office have begun to deal with this”, the President highlighted.
According to the President “The counterterrorism operation continues. The militants have not laid down their weapons, and they continue to commit crimes or prepare for them. The fight against them must be brought to an end.”
The President promised to the citizens that bandits and terrorists will be held to the strictest criminal responsibility.
The President thanked the people of Kazakhstan who showed civic responsibility and those who defended peace and public order in the country.
“All the demands expressed in peaceful terms were heard. As a result of the dialogue, a compromise was reached, and solutions to acute socio-economic problems have been formed”, the President highlighted.
According to the President, “we will gradually lift the state of emergency in the regions where the situation is stable”.
It should be noted that peaceful protesters are not subjected to any persecution.
It is important to emphasize the unity of the people of Kazakhstan at this difficult time. Citizens support the measures taken by President Tokayev to restore peace and have established communal groups to protect social facilities.
We are defending our democracy and Constitution from Islamist radicals and terrorists!
Unfortunately, there are human casualties, both among law enforcement officers and military personnel, as well as civilians. This is a huge tragedy for us, the relatives of the victims, and the entire Kazakh people.
Due to a large number of casualties and losses of lives as a result of tragic events in a number of the regions of the country, President Tokayev Kazakhstan declared January 10, 2022 a day of national mourning.
By Embassy of Kazahstan in Serbia