Kazakhstan Leader Orders Security Forces to ‘Kill Without Warning’

The President of Kazakhstan ordered security forces to “open fire to kill without warning” in order to crush ongoing protests in the country that have left dozens dead. 

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gave a defiant public address on Friday, saying that the unrest that began earlier in the week was masterminded by well-trained “terrorist bandits”, both domestic and from outside of Kazakhstan. 

Protests began in the oil-right country due to rising fuel prices and then broadened into an overall call for political reform. The protests escalated and turned violent during the week, with intense clashes between security forces and protesters in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty.

The government declared a state of emergency and called upon Russia to send in its “peacekeeping” troopers from Moscow.

In his public address, Tokayev claimed the situation had stabilized in Almaty, but that terrorists were still damaging both state and private property and using weapons against citizens. He said that he, therefore, gave the order to law enforcement and the military to “kill without warning.”  

The speech was an attempt to undermine the narrative that the protests were a popular uprising. Tokayev said instead blamed well-organized enemies carrying out “terrorist attacks” for the protests turning violent. Protestors speaking with international media said his characterization was false, and he was trying to hide the truth about the popular protests. 

The initial public anger began over the rise in fuel prices, but when it expanded to overall calls for political reform, broadened to include protesting against corruption, poverty, unemployment, and poor living standards in the country, despite the fact it is oil-rich. 

Experts say that the Kazakh government is highly detached from reality, and does not understand what is happening on the ground. They say that there is no way through which to protest in the country besides taking to the streets. 

The protests mark the biggest challenge to the autocrat’s rule yet, and the largest the country has seen since it became independent in 1991. 

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