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11 Jan 2022

RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

Kazakhstan: President announces Russia-led troop withdrawal

Kazakh president announces CSTO troop withdrawal, criticizes predecessor, 11 January 2022

Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev says troops from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will begin withdrawing from Kazakhstan in two days as the situation calmed following the deadliest violence in the ex-Soviet republic's three decades of independence from Moscow.

In a televised address to parliament...Toqaev said the CSTO troops will complete their withdrawal over the next 10 days now that order has been largely restored...

The CSTO military contingent arrived in Kazakhstan last week after the leadership of the oil-rich country asked the Russian-led bloc for military assistance when protests sparked by a fuel price hike turned deadly with security personnel and mobs clashing on city streets nationwide.

Toqaev claimed that "foreign-trained terrorists" were behind the protests in an attempt to overthrow the government. But analysts say there appears to be an internal power struggle between the president and followers of former leader Nursultan Nazarbaev, who has remained a powerful figure in the country since handpicking Toqaev as his successor in 2019.

Human rights experts from the United Nations...called on the Kazakh authorities to halt their "unrestrained use of force, including lethal force, against protesters"...

Toqaev...suggested for the first time that there was an internal power struggle in Kazakhstan, saying that "under the country's first president, very lucrative companies and internationally known rich people appeared"...