Wednesday, January 26

Russian troops arrive in Kazakhstan to suppress protests


Correspondent in Moscow

Updated:

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While in Kazakhstan the numbers of deaths and injuries in clashes between protesters and the security forces are gradually increasing, the troops sent by Russia to the Central Asian country to suppress the protests are already on the ground. This is reported by the secretariat of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODKB in its acronym in Russian), a military bloc made up of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.

“Advanced units of the ODKB forces have already begun to carry out their mission in Kazakhstan,” reads the statement released today by the organization. It is also indicated that the tasks of the contingent, composed mainly of Russian military personnel (paratroopers) but also belonging to the armies of Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, consist of «Protect buildings and other state and military facilities, as well as, in general, assist the authorities with the aim of stabilizing the situation »

The ODKB calls the troops sent to Kazakhstan “peacekeepers” and the Kazakh President, Kasim-Zhomart Tokáyev, he labels the protesters as “terrorists”. The press release from the Moscow-led defensive bloc does not specify the exact number of Russian military personnel included in the contingent.

The Telegram channel ‘Baza’ reports that the Russian units come from the airborne regiment stationed in the vicinity of the Russian city of Orenburg, very close to the border with Kazakhstan. According to the publication, forces of the 11th Brigade deployed in Kamensk-Shajtinski could also be sent, together with the rebel republic of Lugansk, in eastern Ukraine.

Tokáyev asked on Wednesday for help from the ODKB countries, whose statutes establish that the organization must intervene when any of its members see their security threatened. The incumbent president of the ODKB, the current president of Armenia, Nikol Pashinián, declared on Wednesday that Kazakhstan faces precisely a threat to their “security and sovereignty” caused, in his opinion, by “external interference”.

He assured that “the collective peacekeeping forces (…) will be in Kazakhstan for a limited period of time, until the situation in this country stabilizes and normalizes.” In the same terms, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zajárova, spoke of a military operation on Kazakh soil “limited in time” and explained that the contingent includes, in addition to the Kazakh forces, units of “Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan ‘.

Unrest

The riots began last Sunday in the towns of Aktáu, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, and Zhanaozén, motivated by the rise in gas prices, to later spread to other cities. The epicenter of the revolt right now is in Almatí, the old capital and the main economic center of the country.

After a night of clashes, vandalism against official buildings, some set on fire, and looting of shops and department stores, a “great anti-terrorist operation” began this morning in Almatí. The city police, according to the Russian agency Interfax, claim to have killed “dozens of participants in the disorders,” many of whom, according to the agents, tried to assault official estates or police stations with the intention of seizing weapons of fire.

The Echo of Moscow radio ensures that in Almatí “eyewitnesses report shootings in different parts of the city.” Through loudspeakers, the Police ask the population to confine in your houses and avoid moving on the streets. The state of emergency and the curfew were established on Wednesday by the Kazakh president throughout the country.

Speaking to the public channel of Kazakhstan ‘Jabar-24’, the Deputy Minister of Health, Azhar Guiniat, affirmed that there are “dozens of deaths”, also within the forces of order, and more than a thousand wounded, of the that 400 are hospitalized and 62 in intensive care units.

Tokáyev dismissed the Government on Wednesday and ordered a reduction in gas pricesMeasures that, however, have not been sufficient to stop the disturbances, since they now include demands of a political nature such as a radical change of course, reforms and real democracy.

The protesters have destroyed a statue erected in honor of the former president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who kept much of his power in the shadows, and demand that he leave, that he step away from command and also withdraw his clan members. Nazarbayev, whose name is also that of the country’s capital, formerly Astana, has just lost, by order of Tokayev, the post of president of the Security Council of the republic.

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