After protests, what debt will Kazakh leaders owe Russia?

The protests that erupted in Kazakhstan last week, some of the bloodiest in the country’s history, came less than a month after Kazakhs celebrated three decades of independence from the Soviet Union. Now, as the dust clears from days of unrest that killed more than 200 people, Kazakhstan may once again find itself pulled into the Kremlin’s orbit.

What remains unknown is the price tag for the Russian-led intervention that helped quell the protests.

Demonstrations over a doubling of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) prices began peacefully on January 2, in the western town of Zhanaozen. Western Kazakhstan is rich in oil and gas, but the local population sees little benefit. Most of the cities in the region have poor infrastructure and a lower quality of life than in the biggest city, Almaty, and the capital, Nur-Sultan. 

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