Kazakhstan’s government resigned on Wednesday as demonstrators set fire to the capital in protest of rising fuel prices in the oil-rich country. “Stones, sticks, gas, pepper, and Molotov cocktails were used,” according to a statement by the Interior Ministry. Protesters continued destruction and police were seen using water cannons and stun grenades against demonstrators. Local media reported the airport in the country’s biggest city, Almaty, was breached by protesters. Almaty’s police chief, Kanat Taymerdenov, said in a statement 120 vehicles have been burned, 500 civilians have been injured and dozens of businesses have been destroyed.“Calls to attack premises of civilian and military agencies are absolutely illegal. This is a crime and legal punishment may follow,” current President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in response to the protests.
Tokayev also said in a national television address on Wednesday that he will take control of the country’s Security Council. A state of emergency was declared. A two-week curfew, including a ban on mass gatherings, has been implemented for the city and surrounding areas in the western Mangistau province in response of protests. Previously, the autocratic method of governance has prompted international concern. The U.S. State Department’s 2018 human rights report noted Kazakhstan’s 2015 presidential election, in which Nazarbayev received 98% of votes cast, “was marked by irregularities and lacked genuine political competition.” Kazakhstan is a crucial partner of Russia but hasn’t asked Russia for help in regards to the situation in the country.