Kazakhstan leader orders security forces to ‘kill without warning’ to quell violent protests

In a defiant public speech on Friday, Tokayev said the unrest that started earlier this week when protests against rising fuel prices had been planned by well-trained “terrorist bandits” both inside and outside the country.

Tokayev said the situation had “stabilized” in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, and that “the introduction of a state of emergency is paying off.”

“But terrorists continue to damage state and private property and use weapons against citizens,” he said. “I gave the order to the forces of order and the army to open fire to kill without warning.”

The speech attempted to undermine the narrative that the demonstrations were the product of popular unrest that became increasingly destructive and deadly. Tokayev said the violence was the product of a well-coordinated enemy, armed with sleeper cells that carry out “terrorist attacks” and “specialists trained in ideological sabotage, who skillfully use disinformation or ‘forgeries’ and are capable of manipulating the mood. from the people”.

“His actions showed the presence of a clear plan of attacks on military, administrative and social facilities in almost all areas, coherent coordination of actions, high readiness for combat and brutal cruelty,” Tokayev said. “They need to be destroyed.”

The demonstrations are the biggest challenge yet for the autocrat’s government, with initial public anger over a spike in fuel prices expanding to broader discontent with the government over corruption, living standards, poverty and unemployment in the oil-rich nation, according to human rights organizations. .

Protesters in Almaty reportedly stormed the airport, forcibly entered government buildings and set the city’s main administration office on fire, local media reported. Dozens of people were reported killed and hundreds more injured in clashes there on Thursday.

Tokayev, in his speech, highlighted that in 2020 the peaceful assembly was legalized to promote democracy. However, he said calls from abroad to find a peaceful solution were “nonsense”.

“What kind of negotiations can there be with criminals, murderers?” Tokayev added.

Tokayev said that a contingent from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance made up of former Soviet states, has arrived in the country “for a short period of time” to carry out defense and defense functions. support.

The Kazakh leader thanked the heads of the CSTO countries for their support and expressed “special thanks” to Russian President Vladimir Putin for “reacting very promptly and, most importantly, in a friendly manner to my call.” for a contingent of CSTO.

He also thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping, the presidents of the other CSTO member countries, the presidents of Uzbekistan, Turkey and “the leaders of the UN and other international organizations for their words of support.”

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