Today, clashes between anti-government protesters and state forces in Kazakhstan have forced Central Asia into an unexpected crisis. Kazakhstan has about 19 million people and is the ninth largest country in the world. After years of smaller protests, this week’s protests began on January 2, sparked by a rise in fuel prices, but spread rapidly across the oil-rich country, where an authoritarian government has enriched cronies, ignored the economic needs of the people, and rigged elections so that only pro-government candidates can win.
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