According to the latest reports from Kazakhstan, anti-government protesters today seized the control of Kazakstan’s busiest air hub – Almaty International Airport, amid mass protests, initially triggered by a gas price hike, that eventually grew into a countrywide anti-government uprising.
While no visual evidence was immediately available from the airport due to a mass internet blackout said to be happening in Kazakhstan, local Telegram news channel Orda cited the Almaty Airport’s press service as confirming they were no longer in control of the location.
It claimed the media team had confirmed the seizure of the building by some “45 invaders.” but that there were no passengers in the terminal at the time.
Earlier, there had been reports that the Kazakh Army was protecting the Almaty International Airport’s perimeter, and footage of an alleged military cordon has been shared online. However, Orda sources reported that the military has since left the scene, and that the airport’s employees evacuated all remaining passengers. Staff are also said to have been evacuated to safety.
Online radar applications are showing that airlines travelling to Almaty are now being diverted away, with a Rossiya plane from Moscow changing course into Uzbekistan’s airspace and an Air Astana flight from Turkey rerouting away from the Kazakh city.
The apparent situation at the airport comes after demonstrators stormed the former presidential residence in Almaty before a fire started at the building. In response, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who is in the capital city of Nur-Sultan, vowed a strong response to popular uprising on the country’s streets.
“As the head of state and from now on as the chief of the Security Council, I intend to act as tough as possible,” Tokayev declared.
The protests began due to a rapid rise in liquefied gas prices, after the government removed price caps. In Kazakhstan, liquefied gas is a popular choice of motor fuel, and remote regions without central gasification heavily rely on it.
So far, the unrest has led to the resignation of the country’s cabinet and the government’s pledge to reinstate fuel price limits for six months.