Yuri, an eyewitness to the recent fuel protests in Almaty, has spoken regarding the outbreak of violence during the rallies during an interview in the city on Monday. Local resident Yuri said that the rallies began peacefully, but that later several joined the demonstration armed with shields and clubs.
“They used their shields and sticks to beat their shields, a wave of people were gathering up, creating some kind of unclear situation, and people started running to the square,” said Yuri. Yuri explained how he and his family had taken shelter during the protests, and had stocked up on water and charged torches and phones in case the utilities were cut off. “After a day, the internet was cut off.
We just had to wait it out,” stated Yuri, saying that he and his family ‘didn’t sleep at night’ due to the sound of gunshots. Unrest has shaken in Kazakhstan after unauthorised rallies began in the Mangistau region on Sunday, as prices of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) rose from 60 to 120 tenge (€0.12 to €0.24; $0.14 to $0.28) per litre on January 1. The price hike came after the government lifted price controls on LPG, citing a need to liberalise the market.
Authorities have since announced several restored price caps on LPG, commonly used in cars, in response to the unrest. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs announced the detention of 5,100 people on Sunday, citing their involvement in the recent riots.
The department also reported the death of 16 security officials and 1,300 injuries among police and special services. According to the country’s Ministry of Health, more than 1,000 people have been injured during the ongoing protests and almost 400 were hospitalised. On Thursday, the Collective Security Council started sending forces to Kazakhstan to assist with law enforcement at the request of Tokayev.