Press Release on the Situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan

Press Release on the Situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan

In 2021, the global market saw a significant increase in natural gas prices. The increase in this regard by commercial producers of its export from Kazakhstan has aggravated its deficit in the domestic market, which has been observed for a number of years, due to the very low price of this product for Kazakhstani consumers.

To correct the existing imbalances and create conditions for the formation of a market price for gas based on supply and demand in the domestic market, on January 1, 2022, Kazakhstan introduced a new system of wholesale gas sales through electronic trading platforms. The new market mechanism caused an immediate, almost twofold increase in the retail price for liquefied petroleum gas - from 50-60 to 110-120 tenge per liter.

Due to the fact that most of the road transport in Mangistau region uses this type of fuel, many residents of the region considered such damage to their households' budgets unacceptable, as a result of which some residents of Zhanaozen went out on January 2, 2022 to unauthorized protests.

In view of the wide resonance in the Kazakh media and social networks, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan K.Tokayev publicly reacted to them through his personal Twitter account and instructed the Government of Kazakhstan “to consider the situation from the point of view of economic feasibility, in the legal field”. At the same time, it was separately indicated that “citizens have the right to publicly express their demands to local and central authorities, but this should be done in accordance with the legislation, in particular, with the law on peaceful assemblies”, without violating public order.

Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan A.Mamin in the morning of January 3, 2022 announced that "the Government will implement a package of measures to regulate the price of liquefied petroleum gas." The head of the Kazakh Government noted that the owners of retail gas sales networks will be checked for violations of the antimonopoly legislation. It was also announced that "systemic measures will be implemented to ensure long-term price stability and prevent speculative surges in gas prices by establishing price corridors." The Minister of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan M.Mirzagaliev also spoke to the media with an explanation of the situation and the search for a solution to the issue that had arisen.

Nevertheless, a part of the Mangistau region residents in the amount of several hundred people gathered on January 3 and 4, 2022 in the central squares of Aktau (the administrative center of the region) and Zhanaozen, demanding to ensure a reduction in retail prices to 50 tenge per liter. It should be noted that the police officers who ensure law and order in the city did not use force against the protesters. The dialogue with them was conducted personally by Deputy Prime Minister E.Tugzhanov and Akim (governor) of the region N.Nogayev. Nevertheless, some of the protesters committed illegal actions in the form of blocking traffic on the roads of the city and region and threats to drivers, including those intending to purchase fuel.

To continue the dialogue with the participants of the protest actions and to find a solution to the problem that arose, the Government, on the instructions of the President, formed a state commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister E.Tugzhanov, which began work in the Mangistau region. The Republican operational headquarters has been created to "search for a mutually acceptable solution to the problem in the interests of stability in our country." As the Head of State emphasized on Twitter, for his part, "the demonstrators must show responsibility and readiness for dialogue."

As a result of negotiations with representatives of the protesting citizens in the afternoon of January 4, 2022, it was announced that the Commission decided to reduce the price to 50 tenge per 1 liter of gas. In addition, the demand of the protesters for the release of persons previously detained for violations of law and order in the previous two days was satisfied.

In addition, actions in support of the demands of the protesters in the cities Zhanaozen and Aktau on January 4, 2022 took place in the cities Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent, Atyrau, West Kazakhstan and a number of other regions of the country. Their organizers and participants were warned by local government authorities in connection with a violation of the legislation on peaceful assemblies, which requires prior notification to local executive government bodies.

It should be noted that in Kazakhstan, President K.Tokayev is implementing the concept of "Hearing State", which is based on the consistent strengthening of the mechanisms and practice of dialogue between state bodies and civil society. Legislation on peaceful assemblies has been liberalized. At the same time, in cases of violation of law and order and the presence of a threat to the safety of citizens and society, law enforcement agencies have the authority to take the necessary measures to ensure compliance with the laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Unfortunately, in the cities Aktau and Almaty on the evening of January 4, 2022, protest actions escalated into riots, leading to cases of attacks on civil servants and law enforcement officers, buildings of local executive bodies. At the same time, the actions of the law enforcement forces were extremely restrained, which made it possible to avoid human casualties and serious injuries.

In connection with the aggravation of the situation, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan K.Tokayev made a video message in which he called on citizens participating in protest actions not to succumb to provocations from inside and outside, and to avoid participating in further violations of law and order.

On the night of January 5, 2022, in order to ensure public safety, restore law and order, protect the rights and freedoms of citizens, President K.Tokayev signed decrees on the introduction of a state of emergency in the Mangistau region and the city of Almaty from January 5 from 01:30 a.m. for a period until 12:00 a.m. on January 19, 2022.

The state of emergency introduces a number of temporary restrictions on the movement of citizens and the activities of individuals and legal entities in the interests of public safety. The Government of Kazakhstan hopes that its introduction will allow the resumption of a broad constructive dialogue between state bodies and protesters.

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan  

5 January 2022

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