Kazakhstan tries to calm protests over energy prices

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  • Demonstrators were angered by the rise in the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG). 
  • The protests erupted over the weekend in the town of Zhanaozen. 
  • Protesters have set up camps and are calling for talks with president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. 


Kazakhstan's president on Tuesday tried to calm rare protests in the streets, sending officials to a western province in response to the demonstrations over a hike in energy prices.

The Protests erupted over the weekend in the town of Zhanaozen in the oil-rich western Mangystau region, and have since spread to the regional hub of Aktau on the country's Caspian Sea coast.

Demonstrators are angered by the rise in the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the ex-Soviet country.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Twitter that a government commission, which includes members of his administration, had "begun work" in Aktau.

"The commission is instructed to find a mutually acceptable solution to the problem that has arisen, in the interests of the stability of our country," Tokayev said.

"Law enforcement agencies have been instructed to ensure that public order is not violated. Demonstrators must show responsibility and willingness to enter dialogue," he added.

Videos on social media showed police encircling protesters in Aktau on Monday evening.

The authorities announced a price cut for LNG, putting it at 50 tenges (0.1 euro) per litre in the region, but that was not enough to end the protests.

Protesters have set up camps and are calling for talks with Tokayev, according to local media reports.

Zhanaozen was the scene of the country's deadliest unrest since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, when at least 14 striking oil workers were killed in 2011 as police crushed a protest over pay and working conditions.

Tokayev took office in 2019, handpicked as a successor by the Central Asian country's founding leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.

But Nazarbayev, who is 81 and had who ruled Kazakhstan since 1989, retains control over the country as chairman of the security council and "Leader of the Nation" -- a title that affords him unique policymaking privileges as well as immunity from prosecution.


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