Russian-led forces begin withdrawing from Kazakhstan

Peacekeepers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization attend a ceremony in Almaty.
Peacekeepers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization attend a ceremony in Almaty. Copyright Vladimir Tretyakov/NUR.KZ via AP
By Euronews with AFP
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The military alliance had deployed over 2,000 soldiers in Kazakhstan to support the government during unprecedented protests last week.

A Russian military alliance has begun withdrawing its troops from Kazakhstan following last week's unrest.

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Soldiers from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) were deployed to support the Kazakh government amid the deadly riots.

Protests over increased fuel prices had spread to wider political discontent in a number of cities across the former Soviet country.

But after the authorities regained control, the 2,000 Russian-led forces began to withdraw on Thursday.

"The peacekeeping operation is over ... the tasks have been accomplished," said Russian General Andrei Serdyukov.

The troops are scheduled to complete their departure on January 22, according to the CSTO.

Moscow says its soldiers have already been preparing their equipment to leave for several days and hand over to Kazakh forces.

"The CSTO contingent has provided all the necessary assistance to stop the crisis ... and we see that the situation is stabilising," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated.

At least 12,000 people have been detained after unprecedented violence rocked Kazakhstan this month, leaving dozens of people dead.

The most serious riots took place in Almaty amid gunfire, looting, and the burning of official buildings.

But public transport and services have reopened in the economic capital, as well as commercial flights at Amaty's international airport.

Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has labeled the unrest a foreign "terrorist" attack and has launched an offensive against his influential predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev.

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One of Nazarbayev's key allies, Karim Massimov, was arrested on Saturday for high treason after being sacked as head of the country's intelligence services.

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