10 Jan 2022 09:01

Situation stabilizes across all regions of Kazakhstan - Tokayev

NUR-SULTAN. Jan 10 (Interfax) - The situation in all the regions of Kazakhstan has stabilized and the operative situation is now under control, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was told during a meeting of the operative headquarters on Sunday.

"It was noted that the situation is now stable in all the regions of the country, and the operative situation is now under control. Law enforcement forces have liberated all the administration buildings that were occupied earlier. The functional of communal facilities and critical infrastructure systems is being restored," Tokayev's press service said in a statement on the Kazakh presidential website.

All city halls in Kazakhstan have been liberated from militants and the police have ensured their security, the Kazakh Interior Ministry told Interfax.

As many as 125 criminal cases have been opened, and some 5,800 people, many of them believed to be foreigners, have been taken to police since disorders began in the country earlier this month, it said.

Tokayev chaired a meeting of the operative headquarters on Sunday. Kazakhstan's prosecutor general, the National Security Committee head and acting interior minister spoke at the meeting.

Vital infrastructure

Tokayev said he has decided to resume Internet service in certain regions of Kazakhstan.

"As the situation has stabilized, I have decided to resume Internet service in certain regions of the country for particular periods of time. I believe that this decision will have a positive effect on the life of our citizens," Tokayev said.

Unhampered access to the Internet does not mean that people are free to post insinuations, slander, insults or inflammatory calls, he said.

"In the event of publication of such materials, we will take measures to identify and punish their authors," Tokayev said.

Resident of the Kazakh capital and Almaty have been experiencing problems with Internet service.

Nur-Sultan residents say connection remains unstable and they are unable to access some resources. Mobile phone service is also unreliable.

Internet service was available in the Kazakh capital for the latest time between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on January 6.

Khabar said on Thursday that Internet service was temporarily limited in Kazakhstan for security reasons.

Meanwhile, the re-opening date for the international airport of Almaty has yet to be set.

"Almaty's international airport is closed for an indefinite period, according to the air port's press service," local media reported.

Flag carrier Air Astana said earlier flights had been cancelled until January 7 due to the absence of Internet service.

Meanwhile, automated teller machines (ATMs) in Kazakh regions where the situation is currently stable are stocked with a sufficient amount of cash, the National Bank of Kazakhstan said on Telegram.

"In accordance with the head of state's order to ensure the stability of the financial system, the National Bank of Kazakhstan reports that second-tier banks are maintaining the sufficient amount of cash in automated teller machines in the country's regions where the situation is stable," the bank said.

Shoot on sight

Tokayev had earlier ordered the army and law enforcement officers to shoot terrorists on sight.

"Terrorists are still damaging state and private property and using weapons against citizens. I have given an order to law enforcement officers and the army to use deadly force [against terrorists] without warnings," Tokayev said during a televised address to the nation on Friday.

Kazakhstan encountered an attack by well-trained, armed foreign terrorists, Kazakh Tokayev said.

"Calls have been made abroad, urging the sides to sit down for talks on a peaceful settlement of the problem. This is ridiculous. There could be no talks with criminals, killers. We have had to deal with armed, well-prepared militants, both local and foreign. These are no one but militants and terrorists," Tokayev said.

"It is crucial to understand why the government has failed to notice stealth preparations for terror attacks and sleeper cells. Their operations demonstrated the existence of a clear plan targeting military, administrative and social sites in all regions, coordinated actions, high combat preparedness and brutality. Besides militants, the operations involved specialists trained to commit ideological sabotage," the president said.

Terrorists were involved in at least six waves of attacks on Almaty, and some of them spoke foreign languages, Tokayev said.

"Gangsters and terrorists very well trained, organized and commanded by the special center. Some of them were speaking non-Kazakh languages," Tokayev said.

"There were at least six waves of attacks of terrorists at Almaty, total amount of them 20,000," he said. "They were beating and killing police officials and young soldiers, setting administrative buildings on fire, looting private premises and shops, killing secular citizens, raping young women. In my basic view: no talks with the terrorists, we must kill them," Tokayev said.

Tokayev said he will not negotiate with terrorists because they are committing the most terrible crimes against the people of Kazakhstan.

"The analysis of the situation showed that Kazakhstan is facing an armed act of aggression well prepared and coordinated by perpetrators and terrorist groups trained outside the country," Tokayev wrote on Twitter .

Human cost

A total of 164 people have been killed during recent mass riots in Kazakhstan, the national operative headquarters said on Telegram on Sunday, citing the country's Health Ministry.

The recent unrest left 103 people dead in Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty, 21 in the Kyzylorda region, 10 in the Jambyl region, and another eight in the Almaty region.

Tokayev has declared January 10 a day of mourning for the victims of riots in Kazakhstan.

More than 2,000 people have sought medical assistance since mass riots began in Kazakhstan this month, state-run television channel Khabar 24 said.

"Totally, 2,265 people have sought medical assistance due to the mass riots. Almaty is leading by the number of such patients at 1,100, followed by the Almaty region with 300, and the Jambyl and Kyzylorda regions with 200 each," the TV news channel said.

The number of people detained during the riots has climbed to 5,969, including foreigners; security forces are continuing clearance operations, Khabar 24 reported.

"The Interior Ministry's updated data on detentions: 5,969 people have by now been detained for participation in mass riots, including foreigners," a TV presenter said.

Security forces are continuing clearance operations. The situation has stabilized across all the regions of Kazakhstan, as was noted during an operative headquarters meeting, the TV presenter said.

Former PM Masimov

Former Prime Minister and former head of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan Karim Masimov has been detained on suspicion of high treason, the National Security Committee said on Saturday.

"The National Security Committee has initiated a pre-trial inquiry into high treason under Article 175 Part 1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on January 6, 2022," the security service said in a statement released on Saturday.

"Former Chairman of the National Security Committee Masimov and other persons were detained on suspicion of this crime and placed at a temporary detention facility," the statement said.

Other details shall not be disclosed in the interests of the investigation, it said.

Masimov was dismissed from his post on January 6.

Masimov attended the January 6 meeting of the National Security committee chaired by Tokayev.

Yermukhamet Yertysbayev, a former advisor of first Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, said earlier that "the coup plotters" behind the riots in Kazakhstan wanted to overthrow President Tokayev.

"In my opinion, the coup plotters had a goal of overthrowing President Tokayev and doing what happened in Ukraine at one time," he said. It would have been impossible to succeed in such "coup without traitors at highest levels of power, especially in law enforcement," he said.

"I have exclusive information [...] that, for instance, there was an order to lift the perimeter and call the security guards off 40 minutes before the attack on the [Almaty] airport," Yertysbayev said.

"All those guilty will be punished. [...] It is essentially high treason," he said.

Masimov, aged 56, headed the National Security Committee since 2016. Over the years, he held the posts of Kazakh prime minister, head of the presidential administration, and a presidential aide.

Masimov was Kazakh prime minister in 2007-2012, from April 2014 to April 2015 and then was reappointed after the early presidential election and held this post until September 2016.

In total, Masimov was in office as Kazakh premier for seven years.

Tokayev also relieved Azamat Abdymomunov of his duties as deputy secretary of the Security Council.

"Abdymomunov Azamat Kurmanbekovich has been relieved of his duties as deputy secretary of the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan in accordance with an order of the head of state," the Kazakh president's press service told Interfax.

Meanwhile, Nazarbayev's nephew Samat Abish continues to hold the post of first deputy chairman of the National Security Committee.

"He is still employed as a first deputy chairman," the press service said.

There are two positions of first deputy chair of the committee, and Abish occupies one of them, it said.

Information started circulating on social networks on Friday that Abish was no longer a first deputy chairman of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan because he had been allegedly detained. The National Security Committee denied this information and said it is false and intended as a provocation.

Nazarbayev himself is in the capital of Kazakhstan, Nur-Sultan, and maintaining contact with Tokayev, Nazarbayev's spokesperson Aidos Ukibay told Interfax on Saturday.

"Elbasy [Nazarbayev's title of the leader of the nation] is in the capital of Kazakhstan, the Nur-Sultan city. We urge everyone not to spread deliberately false and speculative information. Elbasy is holding a number of consultative meetings and is in direct contact with President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev," Ukibay said.

"Nursultan Nazarbayev also had several phone calls with the heads of the states that are friendly to Kazakhstan," Ukibay said.

"Elbasy calls on everyone to unite around the president of Kazakhstan in order to overcome the current challenges and ensure the integrity of our country," he said.

CSTO peacekeepers deployed

Meanwhile, a peacekeeping contingent of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has been deployed near Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan, and in Almaty, a CSTO representative said on Saturday.

"One could say that all CSTO national contingents have now safely arrived and proceeded to fulfilling missions. They are largely concentrating around the capital and inside the capital of Kazakhstan, and in the most dangerous region, Almaty, which the president of Kazakhstan says was effectively subjected to six waves of various extremist attacks," Igor Panarin, a CSTO secretariat advisor on political cooperation, said on the YouTube channel SolovyovLive on Saturday.

"Their first and foremost function is to protect important state facilities," Panarin said of the peacekeepers' mission.

On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that CSTO troops will not be involved Kazakh law enforcement and security operations.

"As per agreement with Kazakhstan, CSTO peacekeepers will not be involved in local law enforcement and army operations to restore law and order in the country," the ministry said.

"Units of the peacekeeping contingent are fulfilling the task of protecting critical facilities, aerodromes, key social infrastructure," it said.

By sending their peacekeepers to Kazakhstan, CSTO countries are acting within international norms, a CSTO representative said

"These actions were not just swift and well-coordinated, they were done absolutely lawfully," Igor Panarin, an advisor on political cooperation at the CSTO secretariat, said on the YouTube channel SolovyovLive on Saturday.

"All actions were well-coordinated, with a normative-legal international status," he said.

"When the president of Kazakhstan appealed regarding a threat of outside interferences, this triggered these two articles [2 and 4 of the collective security treaty]," Panarin said.

CSTO soldiers will take no part in the hostilities against militants in Kazakhstan; they are on a peacekeeping mission, first deputy chief of the Kazakh presidential administration Dauren Abayev said.

"There have been many questions regarding the CSTO. Please note that a peacekeeping contingent of the CSTO member states has been deployed. This is a peacekeeping mission. CSTO soldiers are not involved in the hostilities, they are not killing militants," Abayev said on the state-run television channel Khabar 24.

"A peacekeeping mission should not be confused with the deployment of collective rapid response forces. The military part of the operation that cleared the city on January 6 was carried out by the Arystan, Arlan and Berkut units and the Defense Ministry," he said.

There are up to 2,500 CSTO peacekeepers currently in Kazakhstan and this number will be increased if necessary, CSTO spokesman Vladimir Zainetdinov told Interfax on Friday.

The contingent is led by Russian Airborne Troops commander Col. Gen. Andrei Serdyukov.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Russia has committed troops from its 45th separate special-forces brigade of airborne troops, 98th airborne division and 31st separate air assault brigade of airborne troops. The exact official number is unknown.

Armenia sent 100 peacekeepers to guard strategic facilities only, the Armenian defense ministry said.

Belarus sent a company of troops from its 103rd Vitebsk airborne brigade of special operations forces.

Last Friday the Russian Defense Ministry said its military transport aircraft had flown Tajik peacekeepers to Kazakhstan.

Leaders link-up

A video link-up of CSTO leaders is being prepared for Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax on Sunday morning.

"Yes. We're preparing for Monday," Peskov told Interfax when asked whether such a video link-up might happen on January 10.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the emergency session of the Collective Security Council, which is due to be held under the chairmanship of Armenia via video link-up, the Kremlin press service said on Sunday.

"The session's agenda will include "the situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan and measures to normalize it," the Russian presidential press service said in a statement.

Tokayev earlier informed Putin that the situation in the country is stabilizing, but hotspots of terror attacks remain.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that the attack on Kazakhstan goes in the same vein as the pressure applied on Russia along its entire border.

"Kazakhstan has seen an attempt to attack post-Soviet states along the perimeter of Russia. They seek to drown Russia in blood," the Belarusian state-run news agency BelTA quoted Lukashenko as saying in a church he visited on Orthodox Christmas.

"Let me say this again: if Russia falls we will find ourselves down in a snap. They will simply step over us. As I say, they will grind and spit us out. So, we should preserve the center of our civilization, the center of our Orthodoxy and more than that at all costs. The lands that currently make up the Russian Federation. That's the whole philosophy. I want you to understand that," Lukashenko said.

Energy sector operating normally

Kazakhstan's energy sector is operating normally, extraction of oil and gas has not been halted, the Kazakh Energy Ministry said.

"The energy sector of the country is operating normally. Oil and gas extraction has not been halted. A certain reduction in oil and gas output has been observed in Tengiz due to restrictions on import of the manufactured goods," the press service said.

All three oil refinery plants are operating in a stable and normal fashion and have enough oil reserves, it said.

Kazakhstan's oil refineries are operating normally, supplies of fuel and lubricant materials and liquefied gas are stabilized, the Ministry said.

"Operations of the gas station network are resuming in the regions and cities of Kazakhstan where the situation is stable. Supplies of fuel and lubricant materials and liquefied gas are stabilized. Oil refineries are operating normally," it said.

Six companies suspected of unreasonably raising liquefied gas prices in Kazakhstan are under investigation, Khabar 24 said.

"The agency has announced an inquiry into six wholesale distributors of liquefied gas. Their actions exhibit signs of price fixing and abuse of the dominant market position, and they will face large fines if their culpability is confirmed," it said.

An investigation has been launched in regard to KazMunayGas, KazGerMunay, CNPC-AktobeMunaiGas and Kazakhoil, it said.

Kazakhstan's Agency for the Protection and Development of Competition has also launched an investigation against 180 entrepreneurs working in retail trade of liquefied petroleum gas, the agency said.

"Of them, 85 are in the Mangistau region, 14 are in the Karaganda region, 22 are in the Atyrau region, 22 in the Akmola region, 12 in the Kyzylorda region, four in Nur-Sultan, five in Shymkent, four in the Kostanay region, four in the North Kazakhstan region, five in the Turkestan region, two in the Zhambyl region, and one in the Almaty region," it said.

Antimonopoly investigations have been initiated on the basis of signs of collusion in the formation and maintenance of prices of liquefied petroleum gas in all regions of the country, it said.

It was reported earlier that an investigation was underway against six Kazakh companies selling liquefied gas on suspicion of baselessly inflating prices.

Tokayev on January 6 ordered the country's financial regulators to take measures to restore the stable operation of banks after the situation stabilizes.

Tensions escalated in Kazakhstan on January 2, following rallies against a gas price hike in Zhanaozen in the Mangistau region of western Kazakhstan. Rallies developed into mass protests across the country that made economic and political demands, and the protesters clashed with law enforcers in Almaty on January 4 and 5. The Kazakh president dismissed the government in the morning of January 5. A nationwide state of emergency was then declared.