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Jan 6, 2022
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“Fear suppressed.” Riots in Almaty through the eyes of a resident

Police and military equipment on the street in Almaty.

In early January, massive protests took place in Kazakhstan over a sudden rise in the price of liquefied gas for automobiles. The first rallies took place on January 2, and on January 4, protesters clashed with security officials on Republic Square in Almaty.

In the first days of the new year, due to a sudden increase in prices for liquefied gas from the beginning of the year – from 60 to 120 tenge per liter (from 10 to 20 rubles), massive protests began in Kazakhstan. The first rallies took place on January 2. Dissatisfied motorists blocked roads in the cities of Aktau and Zhanaozen in the Mangistau region. And on January 4, protesters clashed with security forces on Republic Square in Alma-Ata. Law enforcers used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protests.

A journalist told about what is happening in the neighboring country Sergey Kozlov, AiF-Kazakhstan.

“When it all began, many townspeople did not even suspect what was really happening in the city. But it soon became clear that something serious was happening, as explosions were heard, grenades exploded, with which the police were trying to disperse the storming people on Novaya Square near the building of the city administration. These were stun grenades, not combat grenades.

The peak of all this action was on Wednesday, January 5th. Thousands of protesters began to flock to Novaya Square and other administrative buildings. At the same time, the police behaved, to put it mildly, strange. I had to observe such, for example, a picture. Policemen with shields, helmets and truncheons were walking along the central avenue of the city. But they walked out of tune, in a crowd, chanting something loudly and drumming with truncheons on their shields. At the intersection with Dzhambul Street, which is the very center of the city, they stopped and continued to shout something. But soon, as if on command, they began to move almost at a run towards New Square. And behind them was a huge crowd, several thousand people. They were overwhelmingly young people. They also chanted loudly and were very aggressive. The protesters managed to catch several police officers, whom they began to violently beat. This happened under the windows of the house in which I live. And it seemed that the police would simply be killed. Shields and clubs were taken away from them, they were forced to take off their uniforms, but they did not kill.

All shops in the city center were closed. Explosions were thundering somewhere and shots were even heard, moreover, in bursts. Mobile telephony worked, so everyone told each other what they saw. They preferred not to leave their houses. When they turned off the Internet, then WhatsApp, they corresponded by text messages and called back on landline phones, who still had them. It got really scary because it was impossible to explain what was happening.

There were no police on the streets, although on normal days the city center is teeming with police patrols.

But the most alarming time came when it got dark. According to various estimates, from 300 to 400 stores were looted. Near the house where I live, about 15 people literally sawed up an ATM for several hours. Calling the police was useless. Either they did not answer the calls, or they promised to come, but no one came. And these 15 marauders simply did not pay attention to the reality around them and concentrated and persistently tried to open the ATM. They even brought a saw-grinder and sawed something there. Finally, after a long and hard work, they opened it and began to divide the money, almost getting in a fight, shoving bundles of banknotes into their pockets. “

According to an eyewitness, residents in the city, having turned off the light, sat in their apartments as quietly as possible – fear literally suppressed everyone. At night, they turned on the Internet, and everyone listened to President Tokayev’s appeal to the nation that he turned to the CSTO countries for help.

So far, the city is quiet, absolutely deserted, shops are closed, and most of the townspeople sit at home and await further developments.

“There are persistent rumors that the ex-president, or rather the first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has left the country. But I stress that these are unverified rumors. And that from the Almaty airport, before the protesters, we will call them that, seized this airport, before that, several aircraft flew out. But I emphasize that these are still rumors, unconfirmed rumors, ”said Kozlov.

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