Friday, January 21, 2022

Russia deploys troops to Kazakhstan as mass protests grip country

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In view of the unrest in Kazakhstan, Russia has deployed soldiers to the Central Asian country, state news agencies reported on Thursday.

Paratroopers have been sent as part of a peacekeeping force, several Russian agencies reported on Thursday, citing the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, CSTO, a Russian-led military alliance of former Soviet states.

The military alliance had already declared during the night that it would comply with Kazakhstan’s request for help.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote on Facebook that the soldiers should be sent for a limited period of time to stabilise and normalise the situation in the country.

Kazakhstan had asked the alliance for help to restore order after riots erupted during rare mass protests over high energy prices.

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In response, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dismissed the government before the military intervened in the city of Almaty late Wednesday.

Tokayev called the unrest “an undermining of the integrity of the state.”

Dozens have been killed in riots in Kazakhstan’s economic metropolis Almaty, reports said on Thursday.

People tried to storm various police buildings during the night, the Kazakh TV station Khabar 24 quoted a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry as saying, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.

Dozens of attackers were eliminated, the report said.

Their identities are now being established, which suggests that there may have been casualties.

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Internet sites belonging to the Kazakh media could not be reached from outside the country on Thursday morning.

The exact situation was therefore unclear, so far, the authorities had only officially confirmed eight policemen and soldiers killed.

There has been no information on civilian casualties so far.

On Wednesday night, the military intervened.

Since then, operations have been underway in various parts of the city of Almaty against demonstrators, who are reportedly also armed.

Residents have been asked to stay in safe places and avoid the streets.

The largest wave of protests in years was triggered by resentment over significantly increased fuel prices at petrol stations in the oil and gas-rich former Soviet republic with more than 18 million inhabitants.

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They turned into anti-government protests.

dpa/NAN

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