Kazakhstan leader orders security forces to ‘kill without warning’

(CNN) — Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has ordered security forces to “kill without warning” to stop violent protests that have brought the former Soviet republic to a standstill.

In a defiant public address on Friday, Tokayev said the riots that began earlier this week as protests against rising fuel prices had been masterminded by well-trained “terrorist bandits” both inside and outside the country.

Tokayev said the situation had “stabilized” in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, and the “introduction of the state of emergency is paying off.”

The impressive military deployment that Russia will send to Kazakhstan 1:09

“But terrorists continue to damage state and private property and use weapons against citizens,” he said. “I gave the order to law enforcement and the army to open fire to kill without warning.”

The speech attempted to undermine the narrative that the demonstrations were the product of popular unrest that became increasingly destructive and deadly. Tokayev said the violence was the product of a well-coordinated enemy, armed with sleeper cells carrying out “terrorist attacks” and “specialists trained in ideological sabotage, skillfully using disinformation or ‘falsehoods,’ and capable of manipulating people’s moods.” .

“His actions showed the presence of a clear plan of attacks on military, administrative and social facilities in almost all areas, consistent coordination of actions, high combat readiness and bestial cruelty,” Tokayev said. “They need to be destroyed.”

The demonstrations are the biggest challenge yet to the autocrat’s rule, with initial public anger over rising fuel prices expanding into broader anger against the government over corruption, living standards, poverty and unemployment in the oil-rich nation, according to human rights organizations.

Protesters in Almaty reportedly stormed the airport, forced their way into government buildings and set fire to the city’s main administrative office, local media reported. Dozens were reported dead and hundreds more injured in clashes there on Thursday.

Tokayev, in his speech, highlighted that peaceful protest was legalized in 2020 to promote democracy. However, he said calls from abroad to find a peaceful solution were “nonsense”.

“What kind of negotiation can there be with criminals, murderers?” Tokayev added.

Tokayev said a contingent from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance made up of former Soviet states, arrived in the country “for a short period of time” to carry carry out defense and support functions.

The Kazakh leader thanked the heads of the CSTO countries for their support and expressed “special thanks” to Russian President Vladimir Putin for “reacting very quickly and, most importantly, in a friendly manner to my request.” of a CSTO contingent.

He also thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping, the presidents of the other CSTO member countries, the presidents of Uzbekistan, Turkey, and “the leaders of the UN and other international organizations for their words of support.”

CNN’s Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report

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