17 Dec 2011

State of emergency after Kazakhstan clashes

The Kazakh president has declared a state of emergency and curfew in western oil city of Zhanaozen. Violence erupted on Friday as hundreds of angry oil workers went on the rampage and clashed with police in Zhanaozen, a town in the Mangistau region of west Kazakhstan, where a ceremony was being held to mark the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence.


The presidential decree bans strikes and public protests, restricts freedom of movement around Zhanaozen and limits access to and from the city for 20 days. Reuters reported.

An independent source in Astana put the death count as high as 70, with more than 500 wounded, when police fired on protesters. The violence is a setback for Nursultan Nazarbayev, the authoritarian president of Kazakhstan, who hosted lavish independence day celebrations in Astana this week to burnish his country’s image as a global oil power and safe destination for foreign investment. Analysts said the unrest was likely to bring a security crackdown in Kazakhstan which is preparing to hold a parliamentary election next month.