Middle East

New violence in Kazakhstan where Russia sends troops overnight

Reuters / AFP Almaty / Moscow

New violence broke out in major cities in Kazakhstan yesterday after Russia rushed overnight paratroopers to quell a national uprising in one of the former Soviet allies closest to Moscow.
The energy-rich Kazakhstan, long seen as the most stable of the former Soviet Republic of Central Asia, is the largest in decades after days of protests against rising fuel prices escalated into widespread anxiety. Facing a crisis.
Armed protesters continued to fight government forces, officials said 748 guards were injured, 18 were killed, and two were cut off.
Burnout cars were scattered on the streets of Almaty, several government buildings were abandoned, and bullet casings were scattered on the grounds of the presidential residence, which was attacked and plundered by protesters on Wednesday.
“I didn’t know our people would be so scary,” Samal, a 29-year-old nursery teacher, told AFP near his residence.
Over 2,000 people have been arrested.
According to Reuters journalists, the city’s presidential residence and mayor’s office were both on fire and burnt-out cars were scattered around the city on the night of the opposition and the army’s conflict on the streets.
Military personnel regained control of the major airports previously seized by protesters.
A new battle took place in Almaty’s main square last night, alternating between troops and hundreds of protesters throughout the day.
Russia’s deployment was a Kremlin bet that rapid military force could secure benefits to Central Asian countries that produce oil and uranium by quickly quelling Kazakhstan’s 30 years of independence and worst violence. ..
Reuters reporters heard explosions and shootings as military vehicles and dozens of soldiers advanced, but shooting stopped again after dark.
Witnesses said witnesses had killed and injured people in a new shooting.
Oil production in Kazakhstan’s top field, Tengiz, declined yesterday, said its operator Chevron, as some contractors suspended train lines in support of protests.
The Internet has been shut down nationwide, making it impossible to measure the degree of anxiety.
Violence is unprecedented in a state firmly dominated by leader Nursultan Nazarbayev (81), who resigned as president three years ago but held the reins since the Soviet era.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokaev, the successor to Nazarbayev, called on the Russian army overnight as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-led military alliance. This includes the other five former Soviet nations.
He blamed the anxiety of foreign-trained terrorists he said had confiscated buildings and weapons.
“It undermines the integrity of the nation, and most importantly, it is an attack on our citizens who are urgently asking me to help them,” he said.
Moscow said it would consult with Kazakhstan and its allies on measures to support Kazakhstan’s “counterterrorism operations,” reiterating Tokaev’s allegations that the uprising was foreign-inspired.
Neither Kazakhstan nor Russia provided evidence to support it.
Moscow did not disclose the number of troops it was dispatching or the role they played, and could not determine how much the Russians were involved in Thursday’s anxiety.
The uprising, which began as a protest against rising fuel prices in the New Year, swelled on Wednesday when protesters sloganing Nazarbayev attacked and burned public buildings in Almaty and other cities.
Tokaev initially responded by dismissing the cabinet, reversing the rise in fuel prices, and moving away from its predecessor, including taking over the powerful security forces held by Nazarbayev.
However, these moves could not soften the crowd accusing Nazarbayev’s families and allies of accumulating huge wealth, while the 19 million nation remained poor.
Nazarbayev left the presidency in 2019 because the last Soviet-era Communist boss still dominated the former Soviet state.
However, he and his family maintained a post overseeing the security forces and political system of Nur-Sultan, a dedicated capital bearing his name.
He hasn’t been seen or heard since the anxiety began.
The swift arrival of Russian troops showed the Kremlin’s willingness to defend its influence in the former Soviet Union.
Since late 2020, Moscow has supported Belarusian leaders against the popular uprising, intervened to stop the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine eight years ago on Western vigilance. Reunited a large army near.
Deployment in Kazakhstan involves risks. Moscow could further offend protesters by exposing Kazakh authorities to their dependence on Russian muscles.
“They are Kazakhs, and Tokaev tries to defeat them with the Russian army, which wouldn’t look good for Moscow,” tweeted Tim Ash, an economist specializing in the region.
However, it is difficult to say how widespread support for protests is in countries where there is little systematic opposition, especially if demonstrators are blamed for violence.
“Thanks to God, the army has finally arrived,” Ali, the manager of the Holiday Inn Hotel near the main square in Almaty, told Reuters on the phone. “Last night, a looter came and broke the window of a nearby car.”
Western countries have so far largely restricted their response to the demand for calm.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Kazakhstan’s counterparts “and proposed a peaceful and respect-respecting solution to the crisis,” spokesman Ned Price said.
EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said Russia’s military intervention provided “a memory of the situation to avoid.”

http://www.gulf-times.com/story/707542/Fresh-violence-in-Kazakhstan-as-Russia-sends-troop New violence in Kazakhstan where Russia sends troops overnight

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