Marks of violence still visible on Almaty streets after mass unrest
VIDEO SHOWS: CARS ON STREETS / BURNT VANS / DAMAGED ATMS / POLICE VAN ENTERING MORTUARY GATES
Burnt-out vehicles and buildings paid testament to days of violence in Almaty on Sunday (January 9) as Kazakhstan’s authorities said the situation was stabilizing after the worst political unrest in 30 years of independence.
Thousands have been detained and public buildings torched during mass anti-government protests over the past week.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev issued shoot-to-kill orders to end unrest he has blamed on bandits and terrorists.
Russian and state media reported 164 people were killed during the clashes, citing a government social media post. But health and police authorities did not confirm the figure, and the social media post was then deleted.
The internet has been restricted and telecoms patchy making it difficult to check figures and confirm statements.
No single group has emerged to speak for the protesters.
At Tokayev’s invitation, a Russia-led alliance of ex-Soviet states – the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) – sent troops to restore order, an intervention that comes at a time of high tension in Russia-U.S. relations ahead of talks this week on the Ukraine crisis.
What began a week ago with demonstrations against a fuel price rise exploded into a wider protest against Tokayev’s government and the man he replaced as president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The violence has dealt a blow to Kazakhstan’s image as a tightly controlled and stable country, which it has used to attract hundreds of billions of dollars of Western investment in its oil and minerals industries.
Police said 6,044 people had been arrested in connection with the unrest.