Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in a televised address Friday morning that he has ordered the military to fire without warning at protesters if the disturbances continue in his country.
He also said he would not negotiate with the protesters and those who did not surrender would be “destroyed”. According to Tokayev, Almaty is threatened by “twenty thousand bandits”.
The president also said the first Russian “peace troops” he requested have arrived in his country. He thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for this. The military must, among other things, secure strategic objects and help the Kazakh government maintain order. On Friday, the Russian soldiers immediately seized the airport of the largest Kazakh city of Almaty.
Putin is sending a total of 2,500 troops to Kazakhstan. These troops are part of the Russian-led military alliance CSTO, a NATO counterpart.
Violence in Almaty continues
Violence continues in Kazakhstan despite Tokayev’s warnings. According to the Russian news agency TASS, shots were fired late into the night in the center of Almaty on Thursday and the building of a television channel was set on fire. Also on Friday morning, journalists report that there is fighting in the city. Earlier on Friday, Tokayev said order had been restored in Kazakhstan.
According to official figures, 26 protesters, who are called “armed criminals” by the authorities, have been killed. A police spokesman said on Thursday that “dozens of attackers have been eliminated” as protesters tried to enter government buildings. More than 3,000 protesters have been arrested.
In addition, according to Kazakh state television, at least 18 police officers and members of the national guard were killed in the protests and 748 others were injured.
Protests in Kazakhstan broke out after the price of LPG doubled at the beginning of this year. Tokayev has reversed the price hike, but the protesters continued, increasingly turning against the established political order.