Collective Security Treaty Organization deploys peacekeeping forces in Kazakhstan
Forces include military units from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan
A Russia-led military alliance on Thursday sent its peacekeeping troops to Kazakhstan, where massive riots stemming from nationwide protests over high fuel prices have led to a state of emergency and the resignation of the government.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) said in a statement that the organization decided to send the peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan to stabilize and normalize the situation in the country.
Underlining that these forces consist of military units from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, it said there are military units of the Russian Airborne Forces among the peacekeeping forces of the CSTO.
It added that the peacekeeping forces were sent by the Russian Air Force planes.
Earlier, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev requested help from the CSTO, a military alliance that brings together six former Soviet republics and Russia to put an end to the riots in the country, which he described as “a terrorist threat.”
The European Union noted Tokayev’s decision on asking “assistance from the heads of CSTO to send peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan for a limited period of time in order to stabilize the situation,” Nabila Massrali, the spokeswoman for the EU diplomatic service said on Thursday at the European Commission’s daily news conference.
At the same time, she reminded that “such an intervention should respect the sovereignty and the independence of Kazakhstan.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, the bloc called on all sides involved in the unrest in Kazakhstan to show restraint and responsibility.
Belarusian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that they support the efforts of the Kazakhstan administration to restore normal life in the country. Belarusian soldiers are being sent to Kazakhstan within the CSTO peacekeeping force, it said.
"Belarus is fully ready to provide assistance to the friendly Kazakh people and will fulfill its alliance obligations," it stressed.
Protests in former Soviet country
The protests broke out on Jan. 2, when drivers in the city of Zhanaozen in the country’s oil-rich Mangystau region staged demonstrations against huge price hikes for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which later spread to the city of Aktau.
Supportive protests in the western cities of Atyrau, Aktobe, and Oral, where the country’s petroleum and natural gas reserves are located, spread to other corners of Kazakhstan and turned into public demonstrations.
As the protests spread across the country, Tokayev declared a state of emergency in the city of Almaty and the Mangystau region for Jan. 5-19 to maintain public security. He also imposed a curfew in Almaty, the country’s former capital, where thousands of people had taken to the streets.
While police used stun grenades and teargas to disperse the protesters, they responded with stones. Clashes were also reported between the police and demonstrators.
Tokayev accepted the government’s resignation in a presidential decree. Later, demonstrations reached a nationwide level, followed by a countrywide state of emergency.
The government also decided Wednesday to introduce price controls on LPG, gasoline, diesel fuel, and basic food products for 180 days.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar in AnkaraAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.