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Kazakhstan crisis reveals risk to autocrats from high fuel costs

Strongmen stretch fiscal limits to rein in domestic energy prices

A burned car is seen in front of the mayor's office building which was torched during protests triggered by fuel price increase in Almaty, Kazakhstan.   © Reuters

MOSCOW/HOUSTON, U.S. -- The deadly unrest rocking Kazakhstan this week offers a warning to strongmen worldwide on what could happen if they fail to shield citizens from soaring energy prices.

Touching off the violent protests was Kazakhstan's decision to lift the price caps on liquefied petroleum gas, used in part to fuel vehicles in the country. The move, taken to prop up LPG producers, roughly doubled the price, according to Russia's TASS news agency.

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