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Kazakhstan to observe National Day of Mourning after recent protests left dozens dead

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Kazakhstan to observe National Day of Mourning after recent protests left dozens dead

Valery Sharifulin TASS via Getty Images
Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

Kazakhstan observes a National Day of Mourning today.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced the national day last week after protests in Almaty left 26 demonstrators and 18 law enforcement officials dead. Protests began when the cost of LPG—a common auto fuel—doubled after officials removed its price cap. Protests have since transformed into broader anti-government demonstrations. Russia deployed peacekeepers to quell protests on Wednesday, but the conflict rapidly devolved on Friday when President Tokayev ordered peacekeepers and police to kill protestors without warning.

Protestors are tired of Kazakhstan’s oligarchs monopolizing the nation’s resources and banking for their own personal benefit. Currently, only 162 Kazakhs hold 55% of the nation’s total wealth.

President Tokayev has denied that protestors have legitimate cause for concern, instead labelling them terrorists. He then arrested former spy chief Karim Masimov for treason. Masimov may have played a role in the protests as he has presidential ambitions and significant political clout.

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Expect calm in the streets as Russian peacekeepers continue their mission with absolute authority. When peacekeepers leave, it is likely protests or attacks will reemerge as Tokayev refuses acknowledge the nation’s issues. To this end, some armed groups have already begun forming and calling for action.

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