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Large scale protests are being held across Kazakhstan. Protesters are running in the streets disturbing peace and tranquility in the nation. Protesters have burnt the government offices and harmed public properties.
Anger was brewing inside people for so many years but this time the rise in LPG prices, flipped the lid. Protesters are destroying the statues of erstwhile president Nursultan.
Why did these protests begin?
Government suddenly doubled the price of LPG gas in winters which caused tensions in people. People cannot afford such high prices.
People in Kazakhstan are already facing a financial crisis because COVID has badly ruined trade and tourism in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is a middle east country. This country has been a peaceful country since the beginning. Its area is just 10% less than the area of India. It has a population of almost 20 million people. So basically, it's a large empty country due to its cold climate. It has large oil and natural gas reserves. 90% of vehicles in Kazakhstan use LPG. Also LPG is used for cooking and other purposes.
Protest actually began against the hike in LPG prices but soon it turned out to be a protest for economic growth of the country. The people in Kazakhstan now want to end the ongoing dictatorship for 3 decades.
A normal person who earns 42,500 tenge cannot pay 120 tenge for a liter of LPG. Also, the increase in LPG prices has raised inflation in the country.
Also amid brewing tensions between Russia and European countries, Russia can stop providing gas to these countries which will cause similar tensions in many other countries like Hungary, Poland and many more.
The protests initially started in a city of Kazakhstan, called Zhanaozen. But now the protests have rapidly spread across the country.
Why did the government increase prices?
Due to lack of funds, Kazakhstan government cannot provide subsidized LPG gas to people. Government has handed over the responsibility of regulating prices to private companies by going to the open market operations. It has raised the prices of LPG and tensions with people.
How did the government react to these protests?
The Kazakhstan government has ordered its troops to fire without warning which is proof of how sharply the situation is deteriorating in Kazakhstan.
Now many European countries especially Germany has condemned the Kazakhstan government for this order by issuing a statement by its spokesperson - "violence can never be an appropriate response". Also Germany has advised Kazakhstan to de-escalate tensions and reach a peaceful solution.
On the other hand, Chinese President Xi Jinping has supported the Kazakhstan government and appreciated its decision to use violence against protesters.
What is the history and significance of Kazakhstan?
Kazakhstan has been governed by just two people till date. One of them is Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, who is a Kazakh politician who served as the first President of Kazakhstan, in office from 24 April 1990 until his formal resignation on 20 March 2019. And another one is
Kassym-Jomart Kemelevich Tokayev, who is a Kazakhstani politician and diplomat and currently serving as the President of Kazakhstan since 12 June 2019.
These two people have handled Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has no proper democracy, it was separated from the USSR and Nursulatn handled it for so many years. New president Kassym-Jomart is also said to be the puppet and real power lies in their political party Nur Otan. Nur Otan has a poor and corrupt image among the people.
Is Russia supporting Kazakhstan?
The whole country is in turmoil due to these protests. Many neighboring countries have started sending help to the Kazakhstan government to mitigate the tensions. Russia has sent 3000 soldiers to Kazakhstan. Similarly, 500 soldiers from Belarus, 200 soldiers from Tajikistan, 150 soldiers from Kyrgyzstan and 100 soldiers from Armenia are deployed in Kazakhstan to help the government to curb these protests.
Are these protests funded?
The USA's secret agency has suspected that Russia is behind these protests in Kazakhstan. Russia has the motive to build the USSR again by merging the countries which were once part of the USSR. Russia has said that it has helped Kazakhstan because of their treaty of CSTO. CSTO(Collective Security Treaty Organization) is an intergovernmental organization consisting of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. But Russia had not helped Armenia in the Armenia - Azerbaijan conflict, this raises the suspicion on Russia.
On the other hand, Russia has claimed the same about the USA. Russia has said that the USA has conspired these protests to demolish the government of Kazakhstan and soon the USA will try to do the same in Russia to shake Putin's government too. The USA has dismissed the claims by calling it - "crazy Russian claims".
What will be the impact on India due to this all?
Kazakhstan produces 1.6 million barrel oil per day. Disruption in its oil production will have a global impact on oil prices. Kazakhstan produces 40% of the world's uranium. If the protests continue, it might hike the prices of nuclear energy in the world. India imports 80% of its uranium from Kazakhstan only. India and Kazakhstan had recently renewed their deal for 2020-24 for uranium supply. These protests can cause inflation in the Indian market also.
India has invited the presidents of all 5 middle east countries as chief guests on republic day celebrations. Now, the arrival of the president of Kazakhstan is in doubt.