Unrest Subsided Following Counter Terror Operation

Jan 11, 2022

Ongoing unrest throughout Kazakhstan has subsided significantly following a heavy-handed security response – termed by authorities as a counter-terror operation — that includes a shoot to kill order in effect throughout the country. In Almaty, the epicenter of the recent unrest, streets were largely empty, although most shops have reopened and public transport has resumed. However, due to supply chain disruptions caused by the protests and subsequent security response, staples such as bread, eggs and flour are in short supply. Internet and mobile communication services have been at least partially restored in Almaty, but not in the capital Nursultan. The public square near the Almaty mayor’s office remains closed to the public. The unrest was also accompanied by a five-day internet blackout. More than 160 people have died in the unrest and at least 8,000 people have been detained since 2 January when the unrest began. Authorities declared 10 January a day of mourning for those killed in the protests.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has blamed the unrest on foreign elements and terrorists and requested military aid from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an alliance lead by Russia that deployed approximately 2,500 troops to secure government facilities and other important sites. The entire country is under a state of emergency which includes a 2300-0700 local time (1700-0100 UTC) curfew and restrictions on entry and exit to major cities, until at least 19 January. While most of these restrictions are not likely to continue in the long-term, President Tokayev’s rhetoric, the violence of the protest movement and the heavy-handed government response indicate that tensions and elevated levels of risk are likely to persist regardless of the survival of the protest movement. The overall security situation in Kazakhstan is not likely to return to the previous normal swiftly, if it does at all.

In related developments, on 8 and 10 January, the U.S. Mission in Kazakhstan issued Security Alerts regarding the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel and families from the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty.

 

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