On 5 January 2022, Cabinet officials resigned after days of increasingly violent and growing protests against government corruption, low wages, high unemployment and the removal of price caps for liquefied petroleum gas. After accepting the resignations, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appointed Alikhan Smailov — who was serving as first deputy prime minister — as acting prime minister. Government officials are expected to assume caretaker roles until a new government is appointed. President Tokayev also removed former President Nursultan Nazarbayev from his post as chairman of the country’s security council, appointing himself in Nazarbayev’s place. Internet and television outages are being reported across the country.

The latest reports indicate that protesters have entered Almaty International Airport (UAAA/ALA), prompting passengers and staff members to flee the facilty. Protests initially began in the western Mangistau region on 2 January over a significant increase in prices for liquefied petroleum gas — which is widely used to fuel vehicles in Kazakhstan — prompted by the government lifting price caps. Protests have spread to Almaty, Aktau, Aqtobe, Shymkent, Nursultan, and Oral. In response, President Tokayev reinstituted price caps on liquefied petroleum gas and promised to institute subsidies on other items. Authorities have detained at least 200 people since the protests began, and at least 145 people have been injured.

Also on 5 January, President Tokayev invoked a state of emergency during 5-19 January in the capital Nur-Sultan amid local violent protests. The declaration came in response to violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces during the afternoon. Authorities in the area reportedly deployed tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and stun grenades to disperse crowds of protesters, who set fire to nearby vehicles and buildings. The previous day Tokayev had imposed a similar state of emergency in Almaty — the country’s largest city — and western Mangistau province. The state of emergency included a nightly local curfew from 2300 to 0700 local time (1700-0100 UTC) as well as restrictions on entry and exit to Almaty. Public gatherings — including protests — are prohibited during the state of emergency. Security personnel may also conduct random checks of identity documents.

On 4-5 January, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Almaty. Demonstrators on 5 January reportedly broke through police barriers on the Tole bi and Baitursnov intersection near central Almaty and set fire to nearby police cars and trees. Protesters also stormed the Almaty mayor’s office. A fire was reported in the building, but it remains unknown if the protesters caused the fire. Police officers in the area fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades at the crowds. Overnight on 4-5 January, security personnel deployed tear gas and stun grenades against demonstrators in Republic Square, who responded by damaging police vehicles and throwing objects at police officers.