State of emergency declared in Kazakhstan’s capital as fuel protests rage and government resigns

By Rob Picheta, Anna Chernova, Radina Gigova and Ivan Watson, CNN

Unrest erupted in cities across Kazakhstan on Wednesday, as thousands angrily protested a sharp rise in fuel prices that sparked the resignation of the central Asian country’s government.

A state of emergency has been declared in Kazakhstan’s capital, Nursultan, its largest city, Almaty, and other areas following tense protests.

In three towns, local administration officials were attacked, buildings were damaged and “stones, sticks, gas, pepper and Molotov cocktails were used,” according to a statement from the ministry. Interior.

The protests were sparked when the government lifted price controls on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) earlier this year, Reuters reported. Many Kazakhs have converted their cars to run on fuel because of its low cost.

Prime Minister Askar Mamin resigned amid protests and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev held a meeting on “the difficult socio-political and socio-economic situation in the country,” according to a statement on Wednesday. the presidential site.

Alikhan Smailov has been appointed interim prime minister, and members of the government will continue to serve until the new cabinet is formed, the statement added.

A local reporter told CNN that thousands of people were protesting outside the mayor’s office in Almaty on Wednesday.

“More than 10,000 people in the city administration building, we call it the Akimat. They surrounded him, ”said Serikzhan Mauletbay, deputy editor of Mauletbay said stun grenades were used and there was “some sort of fire”, according to a live Instagram video he watched from the scene.

Another reporter from Almaty told CNN they were experiencing an internet outage and the lights appeared to be out in the buildings surrounding their residential building in central Almaty, near the President’s residence and the President’s office. mayor.

The reporter described the scene as chaotic and said they could hear and see what they believed to be stun grenades and gunshots, but it is not known what the sounds of shooting were.

Kazakhstan has not asked Russia for help regarding the situation in the country, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state media on Wednesday.

The Kazakh president said a number of measures aimed at “stabilizing the socio-economic situation” had been put in place, including government regulation of fuel prices for a period of 180 days, a moratorium on increasing fuel prices. utility tariffs for the population for the same period. , and the inclusion of rent subsidies for “vulnerable segments of the population”.

On Tuesday evening, Tokayev said on his official Twitter thread that the government had decided to reduce the price of LPG in the Mangistau region to 50 tenge ($ 0.11) per liter “in order to ensure stability in the country”.

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