Kazakhstan: Anger behind protests sweeping across the country will not be easy to quell | World News

Kazakhstan is experiencing its most dramatic political upheaval since the fall of the Soviet Union 30 years ago.

Protests which began on Sunday over the price of fuel have morphed into a far wider expression of socio-economic discontent across every region of this oil-producing country.

Despite the resignation of the government, a state of emergency declared across three regions, including the commercial capital of Almaty, and the likelihood of criminal charges brought against those deemed troublemakers, the protests continue.

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Smoke rises from the city hall building during a protest in Almaty

Cries of “Old Man Go” among the protestors tell you all you need to know about the nature of power in this former Soviet state.

Until this week, Nursultan Nazarbayev who handed over the Presidency to his nominated successor Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in March 2019 still very much ruled the show but that might be about to change.

President Tokayev has just announced he’ll take over from Nazarbayev as head of the Security Council.

The new nominations for State Secretary and deputy head of the security forces are Tokayev loyalists.

Out with the old and in with the new; the question is how much will change for the man on the street?

Tokayev has also promised a cap on fuel prices and on food and electricity but he may just be buying his new government time.

Demonstrators walk along a street during a protest triggered by fuel price increase in Almaty, Kazakhstan January 5, 2022. REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev
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Demonstrators walk along a street during a protest in Almaty

The fact it is a doubling in prices of liquefied natural gas which started all this, a cheap alternative to petrol which a lot of people especially in the Western oil-producing region have converted their cars to in a bid to save cash, speaks to the wealth disparities in this oil-rich state.

The grievances here have simmered for decades, and it’s not clear yet how easy they’ll be to quell.

What will Russia think?

Rest assured, the Kremlin hates this.

Protests sweeping the country? Authorities acquiescing to at least some of their demands?

Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. Demonstrators denouncing the doubling of prices for liquefied gas have clashed with police in Kazakhstan's largest city and held protests in about a dozen other cities in the country. (AP Photo/Vladimir Tretyakov)
PIC:AP
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Police officers detain a demonstrator in Almaty

It’s the stuff of Vladimir Putin’s nightmares.

Blame it on external forces, though, and half the battle’s won.

Rest assured the propaganda machines have already swung into action, in Kazakhstan and Russia too.

But the protestors just took the airport in Almaty and gains like that spur confidence.

This protest action looks like it has some way to run.

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