Refusing to retreat in the face of mass unrest, Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared today that law enforcement should target the “terrorists” and shoot to kill. Tokayev had earlier indicated that he was prepared to accept some of the demands of the protesters but simultaneously promised to crack down harshly on any continued unrest. The most rebellious segment of the populace has shown no sign of being appeased by the promises made thus far.
Kazakh president promises more violence
The already volatile situation in Kazakhstan could be getting much more violent in the coming days as both sides arm themselves and prepare for a fight.
Rioters have been clashing with security forced across the country and storming government buildings. Dozens have been killed or wounded on both sides and more than 3,000 have been detained, according to the government.
Earlier this week President Tokayev attempted to assuage the mob by accepting the resignation of his government, including the former president who is seen as still wielding much of the power.
Tokayev assured the public that he would move to enact price caps on fuel and that his new government would work to extend price caps to other consumer goods in the coming days.
Fuel prices sparked the riots initially, which quickly spread and radicalized as Kazakhs began to direct their anger towards the government as a whole.
The Central Asian country is largely still ruled by the governing class that had power during the waning days of the Soviet Union.
Neither side ready to give up yet
In addition to the shoot to kill order, Tokayev has called in “peacekeeping” support from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-led alliance of former Soviet states.
The organization has started to deploy troops in the country. Still, Tokayev claims that quelling the riots is a job for Kazakh law enforcement, rather than domestic or foreign military forces.
The government is certainly hoping to assure the world that order has been largely restored, as the president claims.
Internet access has been restored to parts of the country and transportation has resumed in major cities, including international flights.
The shoot to kill order, however, indicates that large swathes of the populace have not been appeased by anything offered so far by Tokayev.
Both sides are now positioning themselves for a fight which neither can afford to back down from at this point and the president’s order may only harden the resolve of his opponents.