cloudy.png
Wednesday June 29th, 2022 12:01PM

Nearly 8,000 detained in Kazakhstan over violent protests

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MOSCOW (AP) — Nearly 8,000 people in Kazakhstan were detained by police during protests that descended into violence last week and marked the worst unrest the former Soviet nation has faced since gaining independence 30 years ago, authorities said Monday.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Monday described the unrest that followed initially peaceful protests against rising energy prices as a “terrorist aggression" against the mineral-rich Central Asian nation of 19 million and dismissed reports that authorities targeted peaceful demonstrators as “disinformation.”

Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry reported that 7,939 people have been detained across the country. The National Security Committee, Kazakhstan’s counterintelligence and anti-terrorism agency, said Monday the situation has “stabilized and is under control.”

Monday was declared a day of mourning for the victims of the violent unrest, which the health ministry says killed 164 people, including three children.

The demonstrations began on Jan. 2 over a near-doubling of prices for vehicle fuel and quickly spread across the country, with political slogans reflecting wider discontent with Kazakhstan's authoritarian government.

In a concession, the government announced a 180-day price cap on vehicle fuel and a moratorium on utility rate increases. As the unrest mounted, the ministerial cabinet resigned and the president replaced Nursultan Nazarbayev, former longtime leader of Kazakhstan, as head of the National Security Council.

One of the main slogans of the past week's protests, “Old man out,” was a reference to Nazarbayev, who served as president from Kazakhstan’s independence until he resigned in 2019 and anointed Tokayev as his successor. Nazarbayev had retained substantial power at the helm of the National Security Council.

Despite the concessions, the protests turned extremely violent for several days. In Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, the protesters set the city hall on fire and stormed and briefly seized the airport. For several days, sporadic gunfire was reported in the city streets.

The authorities declared a state of emergency over the unrest, and Tokayev requested help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russia-led military alliance of six former Soviet states. The group has authorized sending about 2,500 mostly Russian troops to Kazakhstan as peacekeepers.

Tokayev has said the demonstrations were instigated by “terrorists” with foreign backing, although the protests have shown no obvious leaders or organization. On Friday, he said he ordered police and the military to shoot to kill “terrorists” involved in the violence.

In a statement Monday, Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry said the peaceful protests “were hijacked by terrorist, extremist and criminal groups,” including radical Islamist fighters with combat experience.

Speaking Monday at an extraordinary virtual summit of CSTO, Tokayev promised to reveal to the world “additional evidence" of a “terrorist aggression” against Kazakhstan. He stressed that the demands of peaceful protesters have been “heard and met by the state,” and the unrest that followed involved “groups of armed militants” whose goal was to overthrow the government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin echoed that sentiment, calling the unrest “an act of aggression" masterminded from abroad.

“The events in Kazakhstan are not the first and not the last attempt at interfering in the internal affairs of our states from the outside,” Putin said at the summit.

The Kazakh president added that “constitutional order” has been restored and the “large-scale anti-terrorist operation" in the country will soon wrap up, along with the CSTO mission.

The foreign militants involved, Tokayev charged later Monday, came from “mostly Central Asian countries, including Afghanistan,” and some from Mideast nations.

Kazakhstan's National Security Committee said Monday that “hot spots of terrorist threats” in the country have been “neutralized.” The committee also told Russia's Interfax news agency that authorities released well-known Kyrgyz musician Vikram Ruzakhunov, whose arrest over his alleged participation in the unrest sparked outrage in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.

Ruzakhunov was shown in a video on Kazakh television saying he had flown to the country to take part in protests and was promised $200. In the video, apparently taken in police custody, Ruzakhunov’s face was bruised and he had a large cut on his forehead.

Kyrygzstan's Foreign Ministry had demanded Ruzakhunov's release, and the country's authorities on Monday sought to open a probe on charges of torture.

On Monday evening, Ruzakhunov returned to Kyrgyzstan. He told a local TV channel that he came to Almaty on Jan. 2 to visit a friend, but several days later, as the protests turned violent, decided to travel back to Kyrgyzstan and was detained.

In jail, Ruzakhnunov heard from cellmates that confessing to going to Almaty with the purpose of taking part in the protests and being offered money for it was the quickest way to get deported home, so that's what he decided to do.

“It was a path (home), so I decided to implicate myself, even though I didn't do it,” Ruzakhunov said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Inflation up, virus down as priorities in US: AP-NORC poll
The coronavirus pandemic is beginning to recede as a top priority in the minds of Americans
12:33PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Judge says Djokovic can stay in Australia but saga not over
Novak Djokovic has returned to the tennis court for training, having won a legal battle to stay in Australia and play in the Australian Open after his exemption from strict coronavirus vaccine rules was questioned
12:33PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Doctors race to save lives after NYC fire that killed 19
Doctors are racing to save the lives of people who were knocked out or trapped in their apartments by a fire that sent smoke billowing through a New York City high-rise
12:31PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Chicago fight with teachers union stretches into 2nd week
The leader of the Chicago Teachers Union is blaming the city’s mayor for a continued standoff over COVID-19 protocols
11:55AM ( 44 minutes ago )
Greece hopes marble foot will get UK to return sculptures
Italy has sent to Athens a small 2,500-year-old marble fragment of the Parthenon Sculptures
11:42AM ( 57 minutes ago )
LA cops pull pilot from plane moments before train hits it
Police body-camera video shows a harrowing rescue in California, where a small plane crashed on railroad tracks shortly after takeoff from a suburban Los Angeles airfield
11:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
US, Russia meet for talks amid tensions linked to Ukraine
Senior U.S. and Russian officials have formally launched special talks on strategic stability as part of a flurry of diplomatic activity in Europe this week aimed at defusing tensions over a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine
9:17AM ( 3 hours ago )
Grand Theft Auto maker buys FarmVille company in $12.7B deal
Take-Two Interactive, maker of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, is buying Zynga, maker of FarmVille and Words With Friends, in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $12.7 billion
9:08AM ( 3 hours ago )
India starts booster shots for vulnerable amid omicron surge
Healthcare and front-line workers along with people above age 60 with health problems are lining up at vaccination centers across India to receive booster shots as infections linked to the omicron variant surge
8:25AM ( 4 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Omicron spikes, Mexican president calls it "a little COVID"
As coronavirus cases spike in Mexico and tests become scarce, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told Mexicans to just assume they had COVID-19 if they had symptoms
11:55AM ( 44 minutes ago )
UK developers told they must foot bill for unsafe cladding
The British government says property developers must bear the cost of removing dangerous cladding that has left scores of apartment buildings at risk of fire, and thousands of residents facing steep bills to make their homes safe
11:53AM ( 46 minutes ago )
Macron talks up security in French conservative stronghold
French President Emmanuel Macron has traveled to the country's Mediterranean coast to talk about internal security
11:40AM ( 59 minutes ago )
AP World News
Inflation up, virus down as priorities in US: AP-NORC poll
The coronavirus pandemic is beginning to recede as a top priority in the minds of Americans
12:33PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Judge says Djokovic can stay in Australia but saga not over
Novak Djokovic has returned to the tennis court for training, having won a legal battle to stay in Australia and play in the Australian Open after his exemption from strict coronavirus vaccine rules was questioned
12:33PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Doctors race to save lives after NYC fire that killed 19
Doctors are racing to save the lives of people who were knocked out or trapped in their apartments by a fire that sent smoke billowing through a New York City high-rise
12:31PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Bears opt to make sweeping changes, fire GM Pace, coach Nagy
The Chicago Bears have fired general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy, hoping new leadership in the front office and on the sideline will lift a struggling franchise
12:20PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Technology sector leads stocks lower again on Wall Street
Stocks fell broadly in afternoon trading on Wall Street Monday and bond yields continued rising as investors anticipate moves by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates
12:15PM ( 24 minutes ago )