Demonstrations have erupted across the country after government lifted a cap on energy prices

A wave of mass protests has swept across Kazakhstan over a sharp spike in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas after controls were removed. The government has promised a rethink in an attempt to quell the unrest.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev addressed the nation, on Tuesday night, saying that the the country needs mutual trust and dialogue, rather than conflict. The unrest began in the Central Asian nation after the authorities removed price caps on New Years Day. 

Kazakhstan is a major energy power, among the top exporters of oil globally and in the leading 20 for gas. 

Nursultan has subsidized liquefied petroleum gas for years, but keeping the prices low became no longer sustainable, the government argued. The lifting of the subsidies prompted costs to grow twofold in a matter of days.

The unrest kicked off in the southwestern oil producing Mangystau Region, promptly spilling over into other parts of the country. Clashes between protesters and law enforcement were reported on Tuesday in Kyzylorda, the capital of the eponymous southern region. 

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty as well. Footage from the scene circulating online shows crowds of protesters clashing with local police.

In an attempt to quell the unrest, the government announced the re-introduction of some fuel price caps. President Tokayev said late on Tuesday the price of liquefied petroleum gas will be limited to 50 tenge per liter (some $0.11). So far the measure applies only to the hotbed of the protests, in Mangystau.

“I appeal to the demonstrators not to follow the calls of destructive persons interested in undermining the stability and unity of our society,” Tokayev said, promising to address “other social and economic” demands of the protesters at a government meeting on Wednesday.

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