On January 2, 2022, demonstrations against the increase in retail prices of liquefied petroleum gas began in the Mangystau region in western Kazakhstan. The protesters demanded prices be reduced to the previous level, and requested a solution to some other socio-economic issues.
Following instructions from President Tokayev, the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan promptly responded to the demands of the citizens and took measures to reduce gas prices, and imposed a moratorium on price increases for socially important food products, fuels, and utilities.
All persons detained during unauthorized protests were released.
After meeting the demands of the protesters in the Mangystau region, demonstrations with similar demands began in all major cities of the country.
On January 4, 2022, President Tokayev urged citizens not to succumb to provocations during the protests against the increase in gas prices, and to strive for mutual trust and dialogue. The President instructed the Government and local authorities to find peaceful solutions to problems through dialogue with all interested parties based on respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens.
These actions demonstrated a clear political will and a desire to resolve disputes through dialogue, confirming the commitment of the authorities to the concept of a “Listening State”.
Unfortunately, the protests in a number of major cities were hijacked by terrorist, extremist and criminal groups to escalate the situation and violent actions. In this regard, the President ordered to take urgent measures to prevent riots and introduced a state of emergency throughout the country.
Despite the taken measures, further escalation of violence was caused by massive armed attacks on administrative institutions, police stations, military bases, civilians, including medical workers, firefighters, and journalists.
The most difficult situation developed in the city of Almaty, where terrorists seized the Mayor’s office, the local residents of the President of Kazakhstan, city police departments, the National Security Committee, and the Prosecutor’s Offices, some TV and radio stations.
Terrorists also seized the Almaty International Airport with domestic and foreign aircraft with passengers on board.
The analysis of the situation showed that Kazakhstan was subjected to armed aggression by well-coordinated terrorist groups trained abroad. According to preliminary information, there are persons among the attackers who have experience of combat participation in “hot spots” on the side of radical Islamist groups. Terrorist groups appeared due to the activation of the so-called “sleeping cells”. Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan were not ready for such massive and coordinated attacks in the different regions of the country simultaneously.
While the initial rallies in Western Kazakhstan were peaceful and accompanied by demands of a socio-economic nature, the participants in the subsequent mass riots did not put forward any specific economic or even political demands. They had no intention to negotiate with the authorities and instead aimed at violently overthrowing the constitutional order.
Due to the sharp aggravation of the situation in the country, President Tokayev assumed the post of Chairman of the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan. On January 6, he ordered the launch of a counter-terrorism operation in the country aimed at eliminating threats to national security and protecting the lives and property of citizens of Kazakhstan.
Objectively assessing the situation, the President had to appeal to the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with a request to send peacekeeping forces to help stabilize the country.
The legal basis for the deployment of Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the CSTO in Kazakhstan is Articles 2 and 4 of the Collective Security Treaty, the Agreement on Peacekeeping Activities, and the request of the President of the Republic 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 conducted by law enforcement agencies and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Currently, around 2,500 peacekeepers from all CSTO member states have arrived in Kazakhstan.
The collective peacekeeping forces of the CSTO will remain on the territory of Kazakhstan temporarily and will leave the country after the stabilization of the situation at the first request of the Kazakh side.
President Tokayev has instructed law enforcement agencies to form an investigative group to conduct a large-scale investigation and bring all those responsible to justice. The results of the investigation will be presented to the international community once ready.
Kazakhstan ensures the security and protection of foreign diplomatic missions in the country, as well as the personnel and property of foreign companies and investors. The situation will soon be stabilized and there will be no changes to the economic policy and investment climate of the country. Kazakhstan remains committed to all its obligations.
Internet access has been restricted in the country as part of the counter-terrorist operation to block communication between members of the terrorist groups.
On January 7, 2022, in his address to the people of Kazakhstan, President Tokayev stated that a counter-terrorism operation was continuing in the country. The police, the National Guard, and the Armed Forces are carrying out large-scale and coordinated actions to neutralize terrorist and criminal groups.
It is important to note 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.
Unfortunately, there are human casualties, both among law enforcement officers and military personnel, as well as among civilians. This is a huge tragedy for us, the relatives of the victims, and the entire Kazakh people.
26. Due to many casualties and loss of lives as a result of the tragic events in the country, President Tokayev has declared January 10, 2022, a day of national mourning in Kazakhstan.
Student/expert of International relations