Kazakhstan ambassador: We are defending our democracy

January 9, 2022 - 21:29

TEHRAN — In an exclusive interview with Tehran Times on Sunday, Kazakhstan's ambassador to Tehran Askhat Orazbay said that the Kazakh government has immediately responded to the demands of the citizens, and the government has a “clear political will and a desire to resolve disputes through dialogue.”

 On January 2, demonstrations against the increase in retail prices for liquefied petroleum gas began in the Mangystau region in western Kazakhstan. The protesters demanded price reduction to the previous level and the solution of some other socio-economic issues.
Orazbay told the Tehran Times that upon the instruction of the Kazakh President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the government promptly responded to the demands of citizens and took measures to reduce gas prices, as well as imposed a moratorium on price increases for socially important food products, fuels and utilities.
He stressed that all persons previously detained during unauthorized actions were released.
After meeting the demands of the protesters in the Mangystau region, demonstrations with similar demands began in all major cities of the country.
“On January 4, 2022, President Tokayev urged citizens not to succumb to provocations against the background of rallies against the increase in gas prices, to strive for mutual trust and dialogue. The president instructed the government and local authorities to find peaceful solutions to problems through dialogue with all interested parties based on respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens,” the diplomat noted.

He added that these actions demonstrated a clear political will and a desire to resolve disputes through dialogue, confirming the commitment of the authorities to the concept of a “Listening State.”
“Unfortunately, the protests in a number of major cities were used by terrorist, extremist and criminal groups to escalate the situation and violent actions. In this regard, the President ordered to take urgent measures to prevent riots and introduced a state of emergency throughout the country,” the ambassador noted. 
Orazbay added that despite the undertaken measures, further escalation of violence was caused by “massive armed attacks on administrative institutions, police stations, military bases, civilians, including medical workers, firefighters and journalists.”
“The most difficult situation has developed in the city of Almaty, where terrorists seized the Mayor's office, the local residence of the President of Kazakhstan, city police departments, the National Security Committee and the Prosecutor's Offices, some TV and radio stations,” he noted.

Terrorists have also seized the Almaty International Airport with local and foreign aircraft with passengers on board, the diplomat asserted. 
“The analysis of the situation showed that Kazakhstan was subjected to armed aggression by well-coordinated terrorist groups trained abroad. According to preliminary data, there are persons among the attackers who have experience of combat participation in ‘hot spots’ on the side of radical Islamist groups. Terrorist groups appeared due to the activation of the so-called ‘sleeping cells.’ Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan were not ready for such massive and coordinated attacks in the different regions of the country simultaneously,” Orazbay told Tehran Times. 
The diplomat noted that while the initial rallies in Western Kazakhstan were peaceful and accompanied by demands of a socio-economic nature, the participants in the subsequent mass riots did not put forward any specific economic or even political demands. 

“They had no intention to negotiate with the authorities, but were aimed at violent overthrow of the constitutional order,” he reiterated.
According to the diplomat, due to the sharp aggravation of the situation in the country, President Tokayev assumed the post of Chairman of the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 

“On January 6, he ordered the launch of a counter-terrorism operation in the country aimed at eliminating threats to national security and protecting the lives and property of citizens of Kazakhstan,” he added. 
Orazbay noted that objectively assessing the situation, the president had to appeal to the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with a request to send peacekeeping forces to help stabilize the country. 
“The legal basis for the deployment of Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the CSTO in Kazakhstan are Articles 2 and 4 of the Collective Security Treaty, the Agreement on Peacekeeping Activities, and the request of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the provision of necessary assistance.
The mandate of the peacekeeping forces includes protection of strategic facilities and helping Kazakhstan law enforcement services. The main actions against terrorist groups are carried out by law enforcement agencies and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” he added. 
Currently, peacekeepers from all CSTO member states, totaling about 2,500 people, are arriving in Kazakhstan.
According to the diplomat, the collective peacekeeping forces of the CSTO remain on the territory of Kazakhstan temporarily and will leave the country after the stabilization of the situation at the first request of the Kazakh side. 
“President Tokayev instructed law enforcement agencies to form an investigative group to conduct a large-scale investigation and bring all those responsible to justice. The results of the investigation upon its completion will be presented to the international community,” he added. 
He also noted that Kazakhstan ensures the security and protection of foreign diplomatic missions in the country, as well as personnel and property of foreign companies and investors. 

“The situation will soon be stabilized and there will be no changes in the economic policy and investment climate of the country, all our obligations remain in full,” Orazbay remarked. 
According to the diplomat, the temporary restriction of Internet access in the country is caused by a counter-terrorist operation to block communication between members of terrorist groups.
“On January 7, 2022, in his address to the people of Kazakhstan, President Tokayev stated that a counter-terrorism operation was continuing in the country. The police, the National Guard and the Armed Forces are carrying out large-scale and coordinated actions to neutralize terrorist and criminal groups. It is important to note that peaceful protesters are not subjected to any persecution,” he reiterated. 
He also said that it is important to emphasize the unity of the people of Kazakhstan at this difficult time. 

“Citizens support the measures taken by President Tokayev to restore peaceful life and initiate creation of people's squads to protect social facilities,” he remarked. 
“We are defending our democracy and Constitution from Islamist radicals and terrorists,” the diplomat emphasized. 

Ambassador also noted that unfortunately, there are human casualties, both among law enforcement officers and military personnel, as well as the civilian population. 

“This is a huge tragedy for us, the relatives of the victims and the entire Kazakh people,” he added. 
“Due to a large number of casualties and losses of lives as a result of tragic events in a number of the regions of the country, President Tokayev declared January 10, 2022 a day of national mourning,” the diplomat concluded. 

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