In pictures: Kazakhstan protests escalate
Scores of people have been killed and injured in the unrest. Now, embattled President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has asked a Russian-led military alliance for help.
Mass protests hit streets
Protests were first triggered by a dramatic rise in the price of fuel. Within a matter of days, the unrest spread throughout the oil-and-gas-rich former Soviet republic of 18 million, morphing into a broad, anti-government protest wave.
Leadership under pressure
To placate protesters, fuel prices were cut. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (pictured above in 2019) on Wednesday dismissed the government. Countrywide protests, however, continue unabated.
Military deployed to Almaty
President Tokayev has announced a state of emergency, leading to nationwide nighttime curfews, limits to where people may move and a ban on gatherings. Tokayev has also called on the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russia-led military alliance, to provide help.
Pent-up anger, large-scale destruction
On Wednesday, thousands of people stormed the city hall and other government buildings in Almaty, Kazakhstan's most populous city and commercial center. Several government buildings reportedly went up in flames. Protesters also briefly took control of Almaty airport.
Casualties and fatalities
According to government reports, at least 18 security offices have been killed. Authorities also say "dozens of attackers" have been "eliminated," meaning scores of civilians have been killed as well. Over 1,000 people have reportedly been injured. Almost 400 were sent to hospitals around the country for treatment, according to Deputy Health Minister Azhar Guiniyat.
Large-scale protests are unusual in Kazakhstan, which remains under authoritarian rule. President Tokayev, who succeeded long-time ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2019, faces the gravest crisis of his tenure. The 81-year-old Nazarbayev is said to retain considerable influence in the country, and is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian troops dispatched
Russia has already sent paratroopers (pictured here departing from near Moscow) as part of a wider CSTO peacekeeping mission. Other CSTO member states include Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Authorities have said foreign troops will help protect key state and military sites.