Supporters of Kazakhstan protestors hold rally in Kyiv

10 January 2022, 11:56 PM

Supporters of the on-going protests in Kazakhstan held a rally near the Kazakhstan Embassy in Kyiv on Jan. 10, calling for the removal of longtime Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Suspilne public broadcaster has reported.

Nazarbayev, who retired from the presidency of Kazakhstan in 2019 after holding the position since 1990, is widely suspected of remaining the de facto ruler behind the official president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The protesters demanded that Kazakh authorities reveal the truth about the events in the country, including the number of protesters detained. They emphasize that the observance of citizens' rights and freedoms should be the Kazakh government’s highest priority.

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In addition, speakers at the rally condemned the decision by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to invite in troops from nations belonging to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CTSO), a military alliance that includes Belarus and Russia, and stated that they regard the act as a foreign military intervention.

Belarusian citizens also joined in the demonstration. Rally participant Karyna Potemkina, a Belarusian who moved to Ukraine at the end of 2021, told Suspilne that she considers the current situation in Kazakhstan worse than the one in Belarus during that country’s mass protests in 2020.

“We have had cases of death of protesters in Belarus, which, shall we say, were provoked by violence from the side of law enforcement agencies,” Potemkina said.

“But at least we didn’t have any ‘peacekeepers.’ Although there were rumors that (peacekeepers) were there, no official statement was made. I think it's horrible when in your homeland, … people … are allowed to shoot at civilians.”

Kazakhstan has been in the grip of mass protests since early January 2022, after the removal of subsidies for liquefied petroleum gas, a common cheap alternative to gasoline, caused prices to spike. The protests quickly turned into anti-government demonstrations, calling for the removal of Nazarbayev from the country’s political sphere.

Kazakh authorities have responded with force and have stated that they consider the protest to be the result of “terrorist groups.”

A state of emergency has been declared throughout the country.

Late in the evening on Jan. 5, the CTSO Council made a decision to send troops to Kazakhstan in response to an appeal from Tokayev.

Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan responded by sending troops in what the CTSO says are “peacekeeping” actions.

On Jan. 6, the first CTSO forces – Russian paratroopers – arrived in Kazakhstan. The Russian contingent is the largest foreign deployment to Kazakhstan and includes armored vehicles.

On Jan. 7, Tokayev ordered security forces to fire “without warning” at protesters.

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