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Protests in Mongolia caused by public anger at corruption – expert

Julian Dirkes, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia, believes that online conspiracy theories have little to do with the dissatisfaction of the Mongolian population with the difficult situation in the country's economy

TOKYO, December 6. /TASS/. The protests that have erupted these days in Mongolia are viewed by local observers from the standpoint of conspiracy theories and the confrontation of elites in the country, actively distributed and discussed on social networks, and not as real dissatisfaction of the local population with corruption and the so-called coal business. Julian Dirkes, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Asian Research wrote this in an article published in the Washington-based online publication Diplomat on Tuesday.

"Interpretations in Mongolia continue to focus on political conspiracies rather than actually addressing issues around corruption or the government’s puzzling strategy to stake its fiscal fate on coal at a time when the global energy transition and Mongolia’s potential role in it are pointing in very different directions," the expert wrote.

Dirkes noted that some observers are even suggesting that the protests were orchestrated by Mongolian President Khurelsukh Ukhnaa on the eve of the Mongolian People's Party congress to put pressure on the government of Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai.

However, in his opinion, such conspiracy theories, which are actively disseminated and discussed online, have little to do with the dissatisfaction of the Mongolian population with corruption and the difficult situation in the economy in the post-COVID period.

A protest rally was held on December 4 in Mongolia’s capital city demanding those responsible for exporting coal to China, bypassing customs control, be named. The demonstrators claimed that there were high-ranking officials among them. On Monday, the protesters gathered again and tried to block traffic along central streets, set aflame a straw Christmas tree in the central square and rushed to storm the government building. Those who managed to break into the building were detained by the police, but were released shortly afterwards. In response to the protests, the government set up a working group for dialogue with the demonstrators. The group is chaired by the head of the secretariat of the Mongolian government and leader of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party Dashzegviin Amarbayasgalan.

Also on Monday, the parliament held an emergency meeting at which the introduction of a state of emergency in the capital was discussed. However, after people peacefully left the government building area, the discussion was suspended and the legislature, which initially supported the cabinet’s initiative to introduce a state of emergency, spoke out that there was no need for this yet.