Kazakhstan detains nearly 1,700 more after violent unrest

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Kazakh officials say they have detained 1,678 more people in the past 24 hours over their alleged involvement in the unrest that rocked the former Soviet nation last week.

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MOSCOW — Kazakh authorities said on Wednesday they had detained 1,678 more people in the past 24 hours over their alleged involvement in the violent unrest that rocked the former Soviet nation last week when Kazakhstan gained independence three decades ago. .

In the additional detentions reported by authorities in the country’s largest city, Almaty, which was hit hardest by the unrest, the total number of arrests was around 12,000. More than 300 criminal investigations have been launched into mass unrest and attacks on law enforcement officers.

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Protests over rising fuel prices broke out in the oil and gas-rich Central Asian country on January 2 and quickly spread across the country, with political slogans reflecting widespread discontent over the country’s authoritarian government.

As the unrest escalated, officials attempted to pacify the protesters and announced a 180-day limit on fuel prices. The ministerial cabinet resigned, and the country’s former longtime leader Nursultan Nazarbayev was removed from the influential post of head of the National Security Council.

Nevertheless, over the next few days, demonstrations turned violent, killing dozens of civilians and law enforcement officers.

In Kazakhstan’s former capital and largest city, Almaty, protesters torched government buildings and briefly seized the airport. By last weekend the unrest had largely calmed down.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has blamed foreign-backed “terrorists” for the unrest and requested help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, or CSTO, the Russia-led military alliance comprising six ex-Soviet states. The bloc authorized the sending of 2,500 troops to Kazakhstan.

Tokayev said on Tuesday that the CSTO will begin withdrawing its troops this week as they have completed their mission and the situation in the country has stabilized.

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