Kazakhstan: Military alliance begins with withdrawal

Status: 01/13/2022 9:59 a.m.

The Russian-led military alliance sees its mission accomplished and is withdrawing its troops from Kazakhstan. After the fatal clashes, the situation appears to have calmed down. The fate of those arrested remains unclear.

One week after the transfer of its troops to the ex-Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, which was shaken by bloody unrest, the Russian-led military alliance CSTO initiated the withdrawal. The alliance handed back “socially important objects” to the Kazakh authorities, as the Russian Defense Ministry announced. The soldiers had completed their mission and were now preparing their military equipment for loading into transport aircraft of the Russian Air Force. The emergency services would then return to their bases.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), in which four other former Soviet republics are allied in addition to Russia and Kazakhstan, sent more than 2,000 soldiers to Kazakhstan at the request of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev after the mass protests last week. On Tuesday, Tokayev announced that the CSTO “peacekeeping forces” would gradually withdraw from Thursday.

Tokayev’s visit to Almaty

The Kazakh government has been talking about a stabilizing situation in the country for days. The authorities have now opened the airport in the metropolis of Almaty, which has been closed for a week, to passenger traffic. The Kazakh aviation authority announced that national and international flights are again possible daily between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Air traffic had ceased last week after violent protests and the siege by radical groups. Control of the airport was quickly restored – the authorities then used it to relocate the CSTO troops.

The state of emergency continues to apply in the city itself. It is also still unclear when foreigners are allowed to re-enter. The Kazakh government had closed the borders of the ex-Soviet republic because of the tense situation in the country.

Tokayev visited Almaty on Wednesday for the first time since the fatal clashes began in the country. He promised to repair the damage in the largest city and financial metropolis of the oil-rich country. “The task now is to rebuild the city as quickly as possible,” said the head of state.

The fate of those arrested is unclear

More than 10,000 people were arrested during the protests and the violent clashes. Again and again relatives wait in front of the prisons in the hope of finding out something about the fate of those arrested.

Some visited morgues to see if a loved one was among those who have died in the unprecedented violence in the country. The authorities have refused to see relatives and lawyers, according to human rights activists, and have provided little information. Official figures put the death toll at 164. Tokayev said hundreds of civilians and members of the security forces were killed and injured. To date, more than 300 criminal investigations have been launched into the riot. Human rights activists warned that the authoritarian-led ex-Soviet republic must guarantee them a fair trial.

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