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Kazakhstan says 164 were killed in a week of bloody protests only quelled after the threat to shoot demonstrators on sight and the arrival of Russian troops

Troops are seen at the main square where hundreds of people were protesting against the government, after authorities’ decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas, in Almaty, Kazakhstan January 6, 2022

REUTERS/Mariya Gordeyeva/File Photo

  • Official figures state 164 people have been killed in protests, up from the previous figure of 44.
  • The office of the Kazakh president has said about 5,800 people have been detained by police.
  •  Russian military units have entered to assist Kazakh forces in quelling the unrest.

Kazakhstan’s health ministry has confirmed that 164 people have been killed in violent protests that have erupted over the last week, AP reports. 

The figures, originally reported on the state news channel Khabar-24, represent a significant jump from the previous tally of 44. 

The ministry also said more than 2,200 people were treated for injuries. 

It is unclear how many of the 164 dead are citizens and military or police. 

The office of the Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has said about 5,800 people have been detained by police during the protests, according to AP. 

On January 7, Tokayev said in a speech: “I have given an order to open fire to kill [protesters] without warning.”

On the same day, Russian units went to the country to assist Kazakh forces in retaking the airport from protesters, the BBC reported.

Kazakhstan PROTESTSDozens have been killed in Kazakhstan after violent crackdown on fuel-price protests.

Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images (L), Vladimir Tretyakov/AP (R)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned against introducing Putin’s Russia into the conflict. “One lesson in recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave,” he said. Insider’s Alia Shoaib has the full story. 

What has caused the unrest?

The landlocked ex-Soviet republic of Kazakhstan,  the world’s ninth-largest country, possesses 3% of global oil reserves.

The protests began after the government removed a price cap on liquefied petroleum gas, hoping that a price hike would help fuel shortages. 

However, the move backfired after the price of fuel doubled, and many people couldn’t afford to gas their vehicles, and unrest erupted.

Riot police walk in smoke in KazakhstanRiot police walk to block demonstrators during a protest in Almaty, Kazakhstan on January 5, 2022.

AP Photo/Vladimir Tretyakov

The president reversed the price rise on Wednesday, according to Reuters, but this did not stop the protests.

Much of the fury from protesters is political, with Kazakhstan’s regime often being described as authoritarian. The country does have elections, but the leading party (Nur Otan) consistently wins with almost 100% of the vote, and there is essentially no political opposition, the BBC reports.

The country’s internet was blocked on Thursday, and remained blocked on Friday, the internet-monitoring company Netblocks said.

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