Foreign minister: Kazakhstan events violation of fundamental freedoms

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center).
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) has expressed her concern over the recent events in Kazakhstan, adding she hopes order will be restored in that country by the authorities, while restoring the fundamental freedoms of protestors.

Speaking at the government's regular Thursday press conference, Liimets said: "What we are seeing, unfortunately, is a violation of both freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, where protesters have been detained."

"Social media channels have been closed, the internet has been offline. The public is not being guaranteed the opportunity to express their views. The situation is very turbulent," the foreign minister went on.

"Politically, we are monitoring the situation with concern and, of course, we consider it important that all fundamental freedoms are respected in the country - freedom of assembly, freedom of expression both online and offline," she added.

The protests are the result of dissatisfaction, ostensibly due to rising fuel prices, but also the result of more deep-seated tensions in Kazakh society, Liimets said.

Also appearing at Thursday's press conference, defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) said that the Russian Federation, whose military has been involved in violent clashes on the streets of Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, has been creating the narrative that the west is behind the discord.

"We don't really know today who is behind these riots," Laanet said.

"We understand that the members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization who have come to help Kazakhstan are Russia and Belarus," Laanet continued, adding that this is being followed by the claim that all security instability is the fault of the west.

The situation also endangers the Baltic States and the Baltic region, Laanet added, with the deployment of Russian and Belarusian troops to Kazakhstan likely to further complicate and already complicated global security picture.

"In fact, it creates such what could be called a lack of security, one where we do not understand exactly what Russia wants to do and whither it is directing its military acumen. It is very helpful for Russia when it creates new hotbeds in the current fog," Laanet said.

Foreign minister Liimets said that Estonian citizens and residents currently in or traveling to Kazakhstan should keep an eye on the ministry's country warnings, and avoid crowds.

The embassy in Astana will provide consular assistance to those in distress where needed, she added.

Russian paratroopers have been deployed in Kazakhstan on what the Russian state media calls a peacekeeping mission amid violent clashes between protestors and the country's security forces, which started at the weekend and have ostensibly been expressions of dissent over rising fuel prices and also the rule of president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, as well as the long-serving former president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The government collapsed on Wednesday.

Around a dozen people have been killed in Almaty, the former capital, according to official reports.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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