Protesters Zhanibek and Zhazira demonstrate outside the Kazakhstani embassy in London, Britain, January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
January 6, 2022
LONDON (Reuters) – Kazakh protesters in London have a simple message as Russia sent in paratroopers to quell an uprising after deadly violence spread across the former Soviet republic: “Don’t shoot.”
Dozens of people have been killed in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city, during the unrest. Reuters journalists on the ground said a presidential residence and the mayor’s office had both been set ablaze.
“We do not support foreign military forces in our country,” Sabyr, a 33-year-old Kazakh, told Reuters in London. He implored forces not to shoot at the protesters in Kazakhstan.
Sabyr, who declined to give his second name, was one of a small group of Kazakhs who gathered outside the Kazakh embassy in London late on Wednesday.
He held a placard with the slogan “Shal Ket” which means “old man out” – a reference to Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81, Kazakhstan’s paramount leader since Soviet times. Others held placards reading “Don’t Shoot” and “We are with you”.
“The protests are against tyranny, the tyranny of a dictatorship that has been unchanged for more than 30 years,” Sabyr told Reuters. “The people of Kazakhstan are struggling for their freedom.”
Nazarbayev, first elected president in 1990 as the Soviet Union crumbled, steered the vast steppe nation through independence, attracting foreign investment into the energy and metals sectors and balancing ties with powerful neighbours Russia and China. He stepped down as president in 2019.
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