Police in Kazakhstan’s largest city of Almaty have fired stun grenades at more than 1,000 protesters marching towards the main city administration building, as rare protests that began over a sharp rise in fuel prices continued in parts of the country.
Amid the unrest, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday accepted the resignation of the government and imposed states of emergency in affected areas.
The protests began after the government lifted price controls on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at the start of the year. Many Kazakhs have converted their cars to run on LPG because of its low cost. Sporadic protests are banned in the former Soviet state.
The government said the regulated price was causing losses for producers and needed to be liberalised. But Tokayev has now ordered acting cabinet members and provincial governors to reinstate price controls on LPG, and broaden them to gasoline, diesel and other “socially important” consumer goods.
He also ordered the government to develop a personal bankruptcy law and consider freezing utility prices and subsidising rent payments for poor families.
In addition to replacing the prime minister, Tokayev also appointed a new first deputy head of the National Security Committee who replaced Samat Abish, a nephew of powerful ex-President Nursultan Nazarbayev.