Protests in Kazakhstan against doubled fuel prices escalate to clashes with police

Protests in Kazakhstan’s biggest metropolis against rising fuel prices escalated to violence on Tuesday. Demonstrators in Almaty smashed and set fire to several police cars. Journalists at multiple news outlets reported the use of riot-control measures like stun grenades and tear gas against crowds at Republic Square, where as many as several thousand people gathered.

As protests grew in size, Internet access across Kazakhstan also faltered. Mediazona reported that the instant messengers Telegram, WhatsApp, and Signal all stopped working for locals. Two news outlets, KazTAG and Orda.kz, also reported that their websites were blocked after covering Almaty’s demonstrations.

There were also smaller skirmishes between law enforcement and protesters, with officers using batons to beat demonstrators, some of whom tried to grab away the batons. At least one officer was attacked, reports Sputnik Kazakhstan. A journalist working for Mediazona was also beaten while trying to film protesters destroying a police car. Demonstrators reportedly took the journalist’s phone and smashed it.

The price of liquefied petroleum gases like propane, butane, and propylene suddenly doubled after January 1 in Kazakhstan after the government ended state-set prices. In response to public outrage, officials have promised to reinstate fixed prices in the nation’s Mangystau Province (where today’s protests began) and in the city of Aktobe, but demonstrations have continued.

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