Protesters storm Kazakhstan's largest airport after torching presidential residence
Protesters breached Kazakhstan's largest airport Wednesday, sending staff fleeing and disrupting flights, BBC reports.
They also set fire to Kazakhstan's presidential residence Wednesday as protests continued to intensify. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has threatened to "to act with maximum severity" against rioters. Kazakhstan also appears to be experiencing an internet blackout.
The central Asian nation's interior ministry claims that eight law enforcement officers and national guard members have been killed in the unrest and over 300 injured. No casualty figures for the protesters have been released.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Tokayev announced Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Askar Mamin and his cabinet and installed an acting cabinet in its place.
Protests erupted Sunday and quickly spread throughout the country after the government announced that the price of liquified petroleum gas (LPG), which many Kazakhs use for automotive fuel, would nearly double in the country's western Mangistau region.
Tokayev announced late Tuesday that he was reimplementing the price controls on LPG, which hold the going rate to less than half the market price. It appears, though, that this was too little too late. Protesters had begun demanding political reforms, chanting "Old man out!" in reference to former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, an authoritarian leader who remains influential behind the scenes.
Tokayav succeeded Nazarbayev in 2019 after an election international observers regarded as highly corrupt. The party to which both belong holds more than 80 percent of the seats in Kazakhstan's parliament.
Tokayev removed Nazarbayev from his Security Council chairmanship Wednesday, but the move appears to have done nothing to quell the protests, Reuters reported. Tokayev himself now chairs the Security Council.
According to Yahoo! Finance, Russia, which maintains close ties to Kazakhstan, has so far ignored Tokayev's pleas for help.