The protests against Kazakhstan’s authoritarian government, sparked by rising fuel prices and anger at ex-President Nursultan Nazarbayev, seem destined to become far deadlier.
Like the Tiananmen Square massacre three decades ago in China, the government has seemingly abandoned further dialogue with protesters calling for liberalization.
Indeed, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced today that anyone who “does not surrender will be destroyed” in a televised address.
Besides giving the authorities the power to “shoot to kill without warning,” Russia and five former Soviet allies, known as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), have deployed security forces to the Central Asian country.
The Hill reports on the reaction from Washington:
White House press secretary Jen Psaki commented on Russia’s involvement in the situation while speaking on Thursday with reporters during a White House briefing, saying “we have questions about the nature of this request and whether it has — it was a legitimate invitation or not.”
“The world will, of course, be watching for any violation of human rights and actions that may lay the predicate for the seizure of Kazakh institutions, and we call on the CSTO collective peacekeeping forces and law enforcement to uphold international human rights obligations in order to support a peaceful resolution,” she added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke to Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi on Thursday in which he emphasized “the United States’ full support for Kazakhstan’s constitutional institutions and media freedom and advocated for a peaceful, rights-respecting resolution to the crisis.”