The government announces a new policy that will increase fuel prices. Street protests break out. An unprepared administration cracks down with excessive force. That amplifies public anger, which boils over into calls for greater democratic rights.
It’s the story of Kazakhstan, where the end of price controls for liquified petroleum gas (LPG) — a popular, affordable fuel — in early January sparked the country’s largest protests since the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago. But the Central Asian republic’s current political crisis closely mirrors a growing series of similar mass protests around the world, all linked to increased taxes or reduced subsidies on fossil fuels in recent years.