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Protests in Kazakhstan

From the end of last year until this January 1, the price of LPG gas in Kazakhstan doubled from 0.14 dollars per liter to 0.28. On January 2, violent protests broke out in rural areas as well as in Almaty, the country's largest city. LPG is the preferred fuel of the population due to its subsidized prices, but the government now decided that these would be subjected to international market forces. Kazakhstan is rich in natural resources with many reserves of gas, uranium and copper. It also produces 1.6 million barrels of oil per day, which is a lot considering its population of 19 million inhabitants in a territory the size of Europe, and taking as a reference Venezuela that produces 1.1 million barrels per day, Mexico 1.9 and Kuwait 2.4. However, the median income of the population is only $250 per month, the country's infrastructure is outdated, and democratic conditions are almost non-existent. Kazakhstan became independent in 1991 when the USSR ceased to exist and was governed until 2019 by the dictator Nursultán Nazarbayev, a former member from the Politburo of the Communist Party and very close to Vladimir Putin. Nazarbayev strategically decided to step aside from his post and instead take over as Chief of the Security Cabinet (police, secret services and military forces). The presidency was left to his political ally, Kassym Tokayev, but not before changing the name of the capital Astana to his, Nursultán, and having dozens of statues of him erected throughout the country. In addition to political oppression, Nazarbayev's family has seized the corporate monopoly of most natural resources and is making arrangements for one of his daughters to be the one to take over as President soon, thus perpetuating the dynasty and control of the country.

The increase in the price of fuel is seen as an additional monetary transfer that citizens make into the pockets of the political class that directly oppresses them. Many took themselves to the streets with nothing to lose shouting "enough is enough!", "out with the old leaders" and violently attacking government buildings and the forces of order. Tokayev reacted quickly by ordering the reduction of the price of LPG to $0.11 this time, established an increase of subsidies to the poorest, dismissed almost all his government ministers for ''not having managed the control of inflation'', and promised to contain the price of fuel for at least six months. In another strategic move, Nazarbayev stepped aside from the Security Cabinet but this has not prevented the protesters from trying to knock down his statues, 18 policemen from being killed, two of whom were beheaded, and the clashes from continuing to spread violently. In turn, the Tokayev government declared that "several dozen protesters have been liquidated", blamed ''20 thousand bandits instigated from abroad'' for the violence and now accused the gas and oil stations of colluding to increase their prices. Martial law has also been imposed, social networks are down and the police have been ordered to shoot all protesters without 'prior notice'. Amid the largest protests in the country's history, the Kazakh government has requested the help of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which is the military alliance of Russia and many former Soviet republics, for, according to the president, restore order against foreign aggressions. The population is divided on whether to support violence or not, but the vast majority agree that a change in the country's political system is urgently needed.


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