Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

President Tokayev says ‘counter-terrorism’ operation will end soon after days of bloody protests.

After more than 160 people died in the most violent unrest since Kazakhstan’s independence more than 30 years ago, its president on Monday described protests as an “attempted coup” as Russia claimed victory in defending its Central Asian neighbor.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said during an online meeting of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) that order has been restored in the vast, Central Asian nation.

Numerous civilians and more than a dozen security forces personnel were killed last week as disagreements that began over fuel prices rose while nearly 8,000 people were arrested.

“Under the guise of spontaneous protests, a wave of unrest broke out. It became clear that the main purpose was to undermine the constitutional order and to seize power. We are talking about an attempted coup, “Tokayev said at his request to the CSTO, which sent troops to Kazakhstan as the crisis unfolded.

The Kazakh president, who blamed the unrest on foreign-trained “bandits and terrorists”, said a large-scale “counter-terrorism” operation would end soon, along with the CSTO’s deployment, which he said included 2,030 troops and 250 pieces. military counted. hardware.

He also defended his decision to invite Russiantroops led to the country and said doubts about the legitimacy of that mission stemmed from a lack of information.INTERACTIVE- KAZAKHSTAN CSTO

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Tokayev, saying the military alliance of former Soviet states had prevented “terrorists, criminals, looters and other criminal elements” from undermining the base of power in Kazakhstan, saying that its troops would be withdrawn as soon as his mission is complete. .

“Of course we understand that the events in Kazakhstan are not the first and far from the last attempt to interfere from the outside in the internal affairs of our states,” he said. “The measures taken by the CSTO have clearly shown that we will not allow the situation to be shaken at home.”

He said the CTSO would not allow “color revolutions” to take place, a reference to several popular revolutions in former Soviet countries over the past two decades, including Ukraine and Georgia.

Days of unrest

The Kazakh protests over a fuel price rises before turning into wider, anti-government riots, driven by dissatisfaction with the political influence employed by the former longtime president, 81-year-old Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The most violent clashes between protesters and security forces took place in the country’s largest city, Almaty, where more than 100 people are believed to have been killed.

“The biggest blow was directed against Almaty. “The fall of this city would have paved the way for a takeover of the densely populated south and then the whole country,” Tokayev told the CSTO.

“Then they planned to seize the capital,” he added, referring to Nur-Sultan, who bears Nazarbayev’s first name.

Tokayev said Kazakhstan, a tightly controlled former Soviet state, would provide evidence to the international community about what exactly happened.

He has yet to provide any evidence to support his claim that external actors were involved in the unrest.

Al Jazeera’s Robin Forestier-Walker, a Central Asian expert reporting from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, said: “Many questions are being asked, namely where is the real evidence that terrorist groups are operating … Instead, think many people that it was perhaps more an internal matter, and an elite power struggle for control of Kazakhstan.

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