Sunday, January 16, 2022

Protests in Kazakhstan Authorities report 225 dead and thousands injured

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The situation in Kazakhstan is tense: after the bloody unrest, the authorities have significantly increased their figures on the number of dead and injured. Most of the victims are civilians.

According to the authorities, a total of 225 people were killed in the violent protests in Kazakhstan. “During the state of emergency, the bodies of 225 people were taken to the morgues,” a representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office Serik Shalabayev told journalists on Saturday. According to this, 206 citizens and 19 police officers and soldiers were among the victims. Meanwhile, ex-President Nursultan Nazarbayev has dismissed two sons-in-law as heads of two major energy companies.

Some of the fatalities were “armed bandits involved in terrorist attacks,” said Shalabayev. “Unfortunately, civilians have also become victims of acts of terrorism.” The Kazakh authorities had previously spoken of dozens of fatalities. A message that spoke of at least 164 dead was later withdrawn by the Ministry of Information.

According to a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, more than 2,600 people have been treated in the hospitals, with 67 remaining in serious condition. Other reports said almost 4,600 people were injured – more than twice as many as on Sunday a week ago.

Meanwhile, the sovereign wealth fund announced on Saturday that Nazarbayev’s son-in-law Dimash Dosanov had resigned as chairman of the oil transport company KasTransOil. Kakirat Charipbayev, also a son-in-law of the ex-president, has resigned as chairman of the gas company KasakGas, formerly KasTransGas. The fund did not provide any further information on the background.

According to media reports, 58-year-old Charipbayev is the husband of the ex-head of state’s eldest daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva. The 40-year-old Dosanov is therefore married to Nazarbayev’s youngest daughter Alija. The ex-president has another daughter, Dinara, whose husband is one of the richest men in Kazakhstan.

The firings point to power struggles in the wake of violent protests that have left dozens dead, hundreds injured and thousands arrested. The massive protests in the resource-rich ex-Soviet republic at the beginning of January were triggered by increased gas prices. The protests later escalated into anti-government demonstrations across the country.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had condemned the unrest as an “attempted coup d’état” by organized “terrorist” forces. He also blamed several companies, including KazakGas, for the crisis.

Observers also suspected a power struggle at the top of the country. Tokayev took over from Nazarbayev in 2019, who had ruled Kazakhstan in an authoritarian manner for three decades. The transfer of power initially seemed successful.

As a result of the unrest, however, Tokayev had turned against his predecessor and former mentor with unusually sharp words. He accused Nazarbayev, who is said to still have great influence in the country, of favoring a wealthy elite.

Head of the secret service Karim Massimov, a close confidante of Nazarbayev, was also dismissed from his post and arrested on suspicion of “high treason”.

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