Kazakhstan President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev confirmed on Wednesday that the more than 2,000 Collective Security Treaty Organization (CTO) troops in the country will begin a phased withdrawal from tomorrow.
Tokayev had already announced the withdrawal of soldiers from the Russian-led military alliance — which includes the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan — during his speech yesterday at the Kazakh Parliament, but the CTO said in the same day that I had not received a notification.
“Tomorrow begins the organized withdrawal of the CTO peacekeeping contingent. I have spoken with the leaders of the corresponding countries,” Tokayev said during a visit to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city and the epicenter of the violent protests that shook the country last week. .
The Kazakh president asked the military alliance for help on the 5th, three days after the start of the protests, initially motivated by a sharp rise in the price of liquefied gas.
The demonstrations took on political overtones, fueled by citizens’ discontent with elites and corruption, and quickly turned into violent riots, being repressed by Kazakh forces in an “anti-terrorist” operation, as the government described it.
The protests have so far resulted in 164 people dead, nearly 1,000 injured and 10,000 arrested.
Tokayev, who on Tuesday said that without CSO help the Kazakh government could have completely lost control over Almaty and the capital Nursultan, declared today that the very presence of the alliance’s peacekeeping contingent in Kazakhstan “had a very important role in stabilizing the situation”.
“Of course, it was of great psychological importance to repel the aggression of terrorists and bandits,” he added.