A Russia-led military alliance announced late Wednesday that it will send peacekeeping troops to Kazakhstan, where massive riots stemming from nationwide protests over high fuel prices have led to a state of emergency and the resignation of the government.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the current chair of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), said the organization considered the threats to the national security and sovereignty of Kazakhstan before reaching the decision.
The CSTO Security Council, the highest body of the organization, decided to deploy peacekeeping forces to the country for a limited time in order to stabilize conditions in Kazakhstan, he said.
Earlier in the day, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev requested help from the CSTO, a military alliance that brings together six former Soviet republics including Russia, to put an end to the riots in the country, which he described as “a terrorist threat.”
Protests in former Soviet country
The protests broke out on Jan. 2, when drivers in the city of Zhanaozen in the country’s oil-rich Mangystau region staged demonstrations against huge price hikes for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which later spread to the city of Aktau.
Supportive protests in the western cities of Atyrau, Aktobe, and Oral, where the country’s petroleum and natural gas reserves are located, spread to other corners of Kazakhstan and turned into public demonstrations.
As the protests spread across the country, Tokayev declared a state of emergency in the city of Almaty and the Mangystau region from Jan. 5-19 to maintain public security. He also imposed a curfew in Almaty, the country’s former capital, where thousands of people had taken to the streets.
While police used stun grenades and teargas to disperse the protesters, they responded with stones. Clashes were also reported between the police and demonstrators.
Tokayev accepted the government’s resignation in a presidential decree. Later, demonstrations reached a nationwide level, followed by a countrywide state of emergency.
The government also decided Wednesday to introduce price controls on LPG, gasoline, diesel fuel, and basic food products for 180 days.