Kazakhstan: What a BBC correspondent saw in the violence-ravaged city of Almaty

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When you look at Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, it looks like a scene from the Day of Judgment.

As I drove through the city on Friday morning, I noticed that the air was heavy with the smell of burnt tires. There are very few people on the streets. Many do not dare to go out of the house.

Important places in the city were the center of mass protests. There are now army and police roadblocks.

As we approached the main square in the city of Almaty, the soldiers shouted and barred us from approaching and fired blank shots into the sky.

I have been to Almaty regularly for several years. Normally this huge city is bustling. There is plenty of green space in town. There is plenty of food and drink.

But many Almaty shops and banks are now closed. They have been looted. It will take some time to return to normal.

Most of the damage in Almaty was in the vicinity of the main square. This is the first time protesters have gathered here since the protests began.

The office of the nearby media was attacked and the mayor’s office was set on fire.

The color of the building is now black. Still, black smoke could be seen rising from there.

Some people were seen taking pictures with the camera of the mobile fan.

Some of the residents I spoke to said they were shocked and angry. Such violent protests are rare in Kazakhstan. They are amazed at the speed with which this violence has spread.

Some, however, said they were happy with the arrival of troops from Russia and other countries. They hope that this will improve the law and order situation.

One woman said the government should have cracked down on them from the very beginning.

“It simply came to our notice then that they would not have been able to use force from the beginning,” he said.

While angry about the violence, some people have sympathy for the protesters. Many people who joined the protests came from the countryside. Their income is low and they are struggling to make ends meet.

“We understand their demands,” said a 22-year-old cook who worked. “

Almaty residents face a food crisis. The supermarkets are closed now. The shops that are open only trade in cash. It is very difficult to withdraw money from an ATM. There is no internet connection in the city. Even getting a taxi on the road is difficult.

It is difficult to know what is happening in other parts of the country due to the lack of internet and phone. There are so many rumors circulating that it is difficult to know which is true and which is false.

All previous demonstrations in Kazakhstan were largely at the local level. None of them attacked the airport.

Most recently, the protests began in protest of rising fuel prices. But there was widespread dissatisfaction with the government.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s first president since independence, ruled the country for a long time. After his resignation in 2019, the Kazakhs hoped that the new president, Qasim-Jomart Tokayev, would bring about major changes in the country.

But they were disappointed. In one of these cases, the capital Astana was renamed Nur-Sultan. This incident proves that the power remains in the hands of the people of the previous government.

Now the situation in Kazakhstan is quite calm and control of the country is apparently in the hands of the government.

But even though the protests have stopped, for now, dissatisfaction remains. As a result, any spark could ignite the protest again.

For more update: click here

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