OREANDA-NEWS. Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov, who earlier fled to Ukraine, has declared himself "leader of the opposition and protests" in Kazakhstan. This was reported by Reuters on 7 January.

According to him, protesters in Alma-Ata are turning to him with questions about how to act. The former Bank Turan Alem chief also stressed that he intended to return to Kazakhstan and lead an "interim government" if the protests in the country achieve the "right kind of coverage".

Ukrainian media reported on January 5 that the banker was co-ordinating the protest events in Kazakhstan. According to some reports, the man appealed to Kazakhstani citizens via social media, urging them to co-ordinate action.

Ablyazov also made an appeal on social media to Kazakh law enforcers. He warned that an Euromaidan would begin in Kazakhstan if the protests were suppressed.

The man was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in Kazakhstan, and in Russia he was also convicted in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison for fraud.

Protests that soon became riots began in Kazakhstan on January 2. City dwellers became disgruntled at the rising cost of liquefied gas, which went from 60 KZT (10 rubles) to 120 KZT (20 rubles) per litre.

The situation became especially tense in Almaty, where protesters stormed the administration building and set fire to the Prosecutor's Office and the offices of the ruling party. In addition, radical protesters armed themselves and began looting, destroying shops, pharmacies and banks in the city. Shots were reported between the military and protesters.

The president of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, noted that those who seized government offices were terrorist groups. He added that the bandits who organised the riots had received extensive training abroad.

Eighteen security officers were killed in the riots, two of whom were beheaded. The brutal actions of the attackers, the Alma-Ata commandant's office is convinced, are evidence of the terrorist and extremist nature of the bandit formations. The republic's National Guard also reported the deaths of two servicemen. The Kazakhstani Health Ministry said the rioters were also targeting doctors, and more than ten medics were injured.

Tokayev resigned as prime minister January 5 to head the Security Council. At a Security Council meeting, he called the situation an undermining of state integrity and said he had appealed to the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) for help in dealing with the terrorist threat. On January 6, a collective CSTO peacekeeping force headed for Kazakhstan. Russia was represented by units and units of the Airborne Troops.

On the morning of 7 January, law enforcers in Kazakhstan reported the detention of more than 3,000 rioters. They killed 26 of the armed criminals. Another 18 rioters were wounded.

Also on January 7, Tokayev issued an address to Kazakhstani citizens in connection with the riots. He said the Kazakhstani authorities have no intention of negotiating with terrorists. According to the president, Kazakhstan had to deal with armed and trained bandits.

The head of state stressed that the country's free media and "out-of-towners" were complicit in the events. He ordered the armed forces to open fire on the terrorists. Kazakhstani authorities are continuing a counter-terrorism operation, the leader added.

A state of emergency has been imposed nationwide until 19 January.