Kazakhstan’s president has officially ordered security forces to shoot to kill, warning that individuals who refuse to surrender will be “eliminated.”
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has given his security forces the green light to use deadly force against the anti-government protesters currently demonstrating on the streets throughout the country.
In a nationally televised address, Tokayev stated that he had ordered “law enforcement and the army to shoot to kill without warning” if further disturbances were to occur.
He claimed that the order was being given because 20,000 “bandits” had attacked the largest city and the country’s financial capital, Almaty, and destroyed state property.
Tokayev also referred to the anti-government protesters as “terrorists” and “militants.”
These protests have been occurring throughout Kazakhstan all week, and dozens of people have been killed. The demonstrations began as a protest against the near-doubling of fuel prices, but as they spread across the country, the movement began to reflect a broader discontent over Kazakhstan’s authoritarian rule.
They began rather peacefully, but descended into violence and escalated sharply on January 5th.
The governments of several countries have called for Tokayev to hold talks with the protesters, as he is the only remaining member of government that has not resigned in response to the protests. He refused, saying the very idea of talking to them would be “nonsense.”
“What negotiations can be held with criminals, murderers?” Tokayev said during his remarks.
According to Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry, by January 7th, security forces had already killed 26 protesters during the unrest, while 26 protesters were wounded, and more than 3,800 people have been detained.
A total of 18 law enforcement officers were reported killed and over 700 injured, according to the government.
Tokayev is begging for assistance from a Russia-led military alliance: the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and is claiming that “foreign actors” and “independent media” had helped incite the turmoil.
Several theories have developed on social media, including that the CIA helped initiate the upheaval as a way to distract from the possible war in Ukraine and the foreign and domestic policy failures of the Biden administration.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has dismissed allegations by Tokayev that the United States had anything to do with the unrest, referring to it as “crazy Russian claims.”
“We’re monitoring reports of protests in Kazakhstan. We support calls for calm, for protesters to express themselves peacefully and for authorities to exercise restraint,” she said.
“There are some crazy Russian claims about the US being behind this. Let me just use this opportunity to convey that as absolutely false, and clearly a part of the standard Russian disinformation playbook,” Psaki added.