Increased Oil Prices Lead to Conflict in Kazakhstan


Rachel Piazza, Staff Writer

At the start of 2022, Kazakhstan saw the most violent protests in its 30-year history. What started as a mere demand for lower oil prices exploded into an intense string of protests that displayed tensions that had been brewing in the peaceful country for years. 

In fact, Kazakhstan was considered a level one country by the U.S. Department of State, which is the best possible safety rating and is lower than countries such as France and Germany. This was previous to COVID-19, which caused almost all countries to receive a level four ‘do not travel’ status. 

Kazakhstan, a former member of the Soviet Union, has had a mostly peaceful existence since its creation in 1991. Known for its fossil fuel deposits and mineral reserves, Kazakhstan holds a higher standard of living than most countries with only 4.3% of people below the poverty line, according to the CIA World Factbook.

But this has not kept tensions from brewing. 

Although the protests did start over gas prices, that was not the reason for the violence. Despite supposedly being a presidential republic, Kazakhs complain that they lack a true democracy, the New York Times says. 

One of the key requests of protestors is to establish an election system for regional leaders, who are currently appointed by the president. 

As Kazakh leaders call on Russia for assistance, it is uncertain if Putin will take advantage of the former member of the Soviet Union. Either way, this conflict starting from a mere price hike is unlikely to leave the country and its political systems unscathed.