Kazakh President Declares January 10 as National Day of Mourning

NUR-SULTAN – January 10 has been declared the National Day of Mourning for those who lost their lives in massive unrest that swept across Kazakhstan.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed the decree on Jan. 8, reported his press office. 

The meeting of the operational headquarters at Akorda on Jan. 9. Photo credit: Akorda.

On Jan. 8 and Jan. 9,  Tokayev met with the country’s Prosecutor General, Chair of the National Security Committee, acting ministers of internal affairs and defense. He told them to take under control of the restoration of administrative, social buildings, and communal facilities in Almaty and other regions that were damaged under attacks from armed groups that the government said were terrorists with foreign training. 

Some troops of the Kazakh law enforcement agencies were redeployed from Nur-Sultan to Almaty to take part in the anti-terrorist operation due to the arrival of the contingents of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) collective peacekeeping forces to the capital. 

Tokayev also instructed his government to ensure the coordinated and efficient work of the agencies involved and stabilize the situation in the interests of people. 

“The President clearly explained the situation. Now it’s entering a stabilizing phase. All state institutions have been released and the anti-terrorist operation is in its final stage. The CSTO collective peacekeeping forces have a supportive mission here,” said Deputy Director of the Kazakh Institute of Strategic Studies (KazISS) Sanat Kushkumbayev in an interview to Kazinform news agency.

The expert reiterated that the CSTO forces are not directly involved in the anti-terrorist operation but help to maintain public order and security. Their mission is limited in scope and scale. They will return to their countries once the active phase of the anti-terrorist operation is completed. 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that the protestors destroyed more than a hundred large trade stores and banks, destroyed more than 400 vehicles, including 346 cars of the internal affairs bodies in Almaty. Photo credit: Tengrinews.

As of Jan. 9, 1,300 law enforcement officials and internal affairs officers were injured during the mass unrest in Almaty, according to Acting Minister of Internal Affairs Yerlan Turgumbayev. At least 5,800 people were detained, among them a large number of foreign nationals.

Turgumbayev said that people who gathered for mass protests in Almaty did not put forward any demands and did not negotiate with the police. According to him, some 20,000 people changed into uniforms of law enforcement officers and opened fire on security officials and people. The ministry has no reports about victims among civilians. 

The situation in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan is stable, said the head of the city’s Police Department Yerzhan  Sadenov. There are checkpoints installed around the city checking people entering the city. 

The President instructed the government to create a special commission on repairing the damage from the unrest in certain regions.

Kazakhstan declared a state of emergency to ensure public safety and protect the rights and freedoms of people in the country from Jan. 5 to Jan. 19 after the fuel protests were held nationwide. 

The state of emergency includes a curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., temporary restrictions on movement, and a ban on mass gatherings. 

The protests broke out on Jan. 3 in Western Kazakhstan’s Mangystau Oblast after a double spike in price for liquid petroleum gas, widely used in the region, to 120 tenge ($0.27) per liter. People demanded the restoration of the price cap to 50 tenge ($0.12) – a demand which the government fulfilled on Tuesday evening. Protests then quickly spread to other cities including Almaty, Nur-Sultan, Shymkent, Aktobe, and Atyrau. 

The internet remains shut down across the country.

“Access to the internet remains limited because terrorist groups use it for their communication, coordination, and plan of actions,” said Kazakh Minister of Digitial Development, Innovation, and Aerospace Industry Bagdat Musin. 

People can now access banking apps and some news websites as well as the Akorda website without the internet. 

The airport in the capital continues its work. But the airport in Almaty, which was damaged by the terrorists, suspended its work until further notice. It was expected to resume its work today. 

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