Russian paratroopers arrive in Kazakhstan to help quell unrest
Russian paratroopers have arrived in Kazakhstan to help quell mass unrest following a hike in fuel prices, Russian state media reported on January 6.
The Russian troops came as part of a "peacekeeping" mission by the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) - an alliance comprising Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev requested assistance from the alliance late on January 5 and it was quickly approved.
Protests began in the western oil city of Zhanaozen on January 2 but quickly spread to other cities across the country including Kazakhstan's largest city and its former capital Almaty. The trigger was a hike in the cost of LPG, used commonly as a vehicle fuel in Kazakhstan, which was implemented as part of the government's phased plan to end fuel subsidies. Growing discontent with the government has been reported as a contributing factor.
Kazakh security forces reported on January 6 that they had killed dozens of anti-government rioters in Almaty in an effort to take back control of the city. Some 12 members of the security forces have also been killed and another 353 injured.
Kazakhstan is a significant oil and gas producer in the former Soviet region. In 2020 it produced 1.81mn barrels/day of oil and 31.7bn m3 of gas. Some of that gas is exported to China and Russia.