NUR SULTAN, Kazakhstan
Amid rising mass protests, Kazakhstan on Wednesday decided to introduce 180-day price regulations on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), gasoline, and diesel fuel, as well as basic food products, in order to contain swelling prices in the country.
In a meeting with the relevant institutions on the socio-economic situation in the Central Asian country, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took additional stabilizing measures.
“(It is necessary) to introduce state regulation of prices for socially significant foodstuffs. This will be decided by (the regional heads) depending on the socio-economic situation in a particular region,” said a statement by the Presidency.
The new measures also postponed for a year a decision to move the sale of LPG completely to online trading platforms. This decision was to be put into effect as of January 2022 in the country of 19 million people.
A moratorium was also introduced on the prices of home utilities, along with a rent subsidy for low-income residents.
Tokayev also ordered the establishment of a public fund, financed by private and public sources, to boost the healthcare system and help children.
200 detained for disrupting public order
Meanwhile, the Kazakh Interior Ministry announced that over 200 people were detained for disrupting public order during demonstrations that erupted across the country on Tuesday.
The ministry revealed that 37 police vehicles had been damaged, 95 officers injured, and one car torched during the protests.
Police remain deployed on the streets of Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, where massive rallies were held.
Holding the government responsible for the protests launched against a recent hike in LPG prices, Tokayev on Wednesday approved the resignation of Prime Minister Askar Mamin and his ministers.
According to a decree, First Deputy Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov was appointed as interim prime minister. Though the decree is effective immediately, the members of the Cabinet are expected to continue their duties until a new government is formed.
As protests spread across the country, Tokayev declared a state of emergency in the city of Almaty and the oil-rich Mangystau region in the west between Jan. 5-19 to maintain public security. He also imposed a curfew in Almaty, the country’s former capital, where thousands of people had taken to the streets.
While police used stun grenades and teargas to disperse the protesters, they responded with stones. Clashes were also reported between the police and demonstrators.
The government has also restricted access to social media applications, including Facebook and Telegram.
The protests broke out on Jan. 2 when drivers held demonstrations against an increase in LPG prices in the city of Zhanaozen in Mangystau, which later spread to Aktau city.
Supportive protests in the western cities of Atyrau, Aktobe, and Oral, where the country’s petroleum and natural gas reserves are located, spread to other areas of Kazakhstan to turn into countrywide public demonstrations.
Turkiye following protests in Kazakhstan
Turkiye said in a statement on Wednesday that it is closely following the protests in Kazakhstan.
"We attach importance to the stability of friendly Kazakhstan. We wish peace and tranquility for the brotherly people of Kazakhstan. We firmly believe that Kazakhstan Administration will overcome this crisis," the Foreign Ministry said.
It added: “We trust the common sense of the people of Kazakhstan and wish that these events would calm down very soon."
Ankara also wished a speedy recovery to those injured in the protests, the statement added.
*Writing and contributions by Jeyhun Aliyev and Seda Sevencan from Turkiye