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Newsline: U.S. Consulate in Almaty closed amid riots

As many as 190 people were injured during the clashes in Kazakhstan’s largest city of Almaty, its public health department said on Wednesday. Amid the chaos, the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan said the American Consulate in Almaty would remain closed on Thursday, at least, with staff working remotely. In a statement posted online, the embassy urged Americans in the country to avoid areas where the demonstrations were playing out, and offered out-of-hours numbers for U.S. nationals to call for both the embassy and the consulate. (https://news.yahoo.com/rare-protests-draw-resignations-shake-143533661.html) Unprecedented protests have led to the de-facto resignation of one of the longest serving rulers of a former Soviet Republic. The president of Kazakhstan sacked his entire government and imposed a state of emergency across several regions on Wednesday in an attempt to curb the protests that have engulfed the country. Kazakhstan, a Central Asian nation of about 19 million people, is tightly controlled by its authoritarian government. The regime tolerates little opposition and has sought to quash dissent. Spontaneous demonstrations are illegal. The unrest erupted on January 2 in the western region of Mangystau over a dramatic increase in the price of liquefied natural gas, a popular fuel used for vehicles in the country. The price per liter suddenly doubled, going from about 12-14 U.S. cents at the end of 2021, to 28 cents in the new year. Authorities promised to bring the gas prices back under control, but the protests spread quickly across the country. By Tuesday, tens of thousands of protesters were taking to the streets, and clashes in some cities had turned violent.

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