After serious unrest: Kazakhstan has a new head of government

Status: 11.01.2022 9:17 a.m.

After the unrest in Kazakhstan, the country has a new prime minister in Alikhan Smailov. Meanwhile, President Tokayev announced that the first soldiers of the CSTO military alliance would be withdrawn. The number of arrests rose to nearly 10,000.

After days of heavy riots in Kazakhstan, the Central Asian country has a new head of government. The parliament voted for Alichan Smailow, who already held the post temporarily after the dismissal of the old government a good week ago, as the state television reported.

President Kassym-Shomart Tokayev had recently proposed the 49-year-old as prime minister. The nomination was then unanimously confirmed by parliament.

Between 2018 and 2020, Smailov was Kazakh finance minister. In 2019, he was also first deputy prime minister in Asqar Mamin’s cabinet.

Almost 10,000 arrests

In the oil- and gas-rich ex-Soviet republic, which borders among other things on Russia, displeasure about the rise in fuel prices had turned into protests against the government. In addition to peaceful demonstrations, there were also violent riots, especially in the metropolis of Almaty.

Many people were killed and injured in the riots. The exact number of victims is still unclear. The media had reported at least 164 dead after the protests, citing the Ministry of Health. However, the Ministry of Information later withdrew the notice. According to Tokayev, there were 16 dead and more than 1,600 injured among the security forces. The number of civilian deaths is “currently under review”.

In addition, the number of arrests approached 10,000. According to the Tengrinews agency, the Interior Ministry said that around 9,900 people were taken into custody during the riots.

Tokayev wants to withdraw soldiers

In view of the unrest, Tokayev asked the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for support. The Russian-led military alliance then sent thousands of soldiers to the ex-Soviet republic. According to Tokayev, the first of them should leave Kazakhstan this week. In two days, the withdrawal should begin gradually, said the head of state in a speech in parliament.

“Complete order has been restored in Kazakhstan,” said the president. The search for “terrorists” continues. Tokayev said that among the attackers were militant Islamists from other Central Asian countries and Afghanistan as well as from the Middle East.

China and Russia want to prevent revolution

China also shares the Kazakh President’s assessment that the cause of the unrest was terrorist activities, Chinese state media reported on a telephone conversation between China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

China and Russia should “oppose the interference of external forces in the internal affairs of Central Asian countries” and prevent “color revolutions” and the “three evil powers” from causing chaos, the report said. China defines the “three evil forces” as religious extremism, territorial separatism and violent terrorism.

The government in Moscow also blames foreign forces for the unrest in its southern neighbor. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the alliance will not allow a “color revolution” to occur. He was referring to uprisings in other ex-Soviet republics, such as in 2013/14 in Ukraine.

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