Home LATEST NEWS Russian-led forces begin withdrawal from Kazakhstan

Russian-led forces begin withdrawal from Kazakhstan

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A solemn departure ceremony bringing together soldiers from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (OTSC), a military alliance led by Moscow, took place in the morning in Almaty, the main Kazakh city, according to AFP journalists.

The peacekeeping operation is over […], the tasks have been completed, welcomed Russian General Andrei Serdyukov, commander of the contingent comprising 2,030 Russian, Belarusian, Armenian, Tajik and Kyrgyz soldiers.

These men had been deployed to the former Soviet republic on January 6 and must complete their departure by January 22, according to the CSTO and the Kazakh authorities.

According to Moscow, the military began to prepare their equipment for the return and to hand over to the Kazakh forces the sites which they had been providing security for several days.

The CSTO contingent provided all the assistance necessary to stem the crisis […] and we see that the situation is stabilizingKremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Kazakhstan, a country reputed to be stable, was shaken last week by violence never seen since its independence in 1991. It left dozens of dead and hundreds injured, pushed for the deployment of the military contingent and led to the arrest of ‘at least 12,000 people.

The most serious violence took place in Almaty with exchanges of fire, the looting of shops and the burning of official buildings.

On Thursday, the funeral of a member of the security services killed during the violence was held in Almaty in the presence of dozens of soldiers and to the sound of a funeral march, according to AFP.

In Almaty, the situation was gradually returning to normal, with the resumption of public transport and the reopening of most shops and restaurants.

A construction worker walks past the charred facade of a building while eating a sandwich.

Workers are preparing to cover the charred facade of the town hall with huge tarpaulins for repair work.

Photo: The Canadian Press / AP / Sergei Grits

Civilian flights resume in Almaty

In addition, Almaty airport, closed since last week after being ransacked, welcomed its first civilian flight on Thursday.

The riots were called assaults terrorists foreign by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who has not, however, provided concrete evidence to this effect.

The violence had, however, erupted after demonstrations on January 2 against rising fuel prices, against the backdrop of years of declining living standards and endemic corruption among the country’s elites.

The version of events put forward by the Kazakh authorities has in any case received the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other countries in the region.

A sign of their close collaboration, MM. Putin and Tokayev had another telephone interview on Thursday, in which the Kazakh president thanked Russia for its support, the Kremlin said.

The Kazakh authorities have still not published a precise human toll of these events, while rioters and law enforcement officers clashed with automatic weapons, suggesting a very high number of victims.

In the wake of these deadly clashes, the President of Kazakhstan also launched an offensive against his powerful predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, as well as his allies and members of his family who control entire swathes of the economy and remain very influential in the mysteries of the diet.

Mr. Tokayev thus accused his mentor of having favored the emergence of a rich caste dominating this state overflowing with hydrocarbons, an unprecedented criticism of the one who holds the honorary title of Head of the Nation.

The Kazakh president, who has spent his entire career in the shadow of Mr. Nazarbayev, also announced that the elite who have been enriched for 30 years will have to supply a fund intended for pay a tribute to the Kazakh people.

One of Mr. Nazarbayev’s allies, Karim Massimov, was also arrested on Saturday for high treason after being sacked from the head of the intelligence services.

The latter announced Thursday that two deputies of Mr. Massimov had also been arrested, suspected of having acted to seize power by force and D’abuse of office.

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