Russia Legislator Expects Kazakh Mission to Last Only a Few Weeks
(Bloomberg) -- Russian troops will likely be needed in Kazakhstan for only a few weeks to help quell protests but the deployment will be a test for the Moscow-led alliance that’s sending them, according to a senior legislator.
“I think it will end in a few weeks, not months,” Leonid Kalashnikov, chairman of the committee in Russia’s State Duma responsible for relations with other ex-Soviet states, said in a telephone interview Thursday. “Kazakhstan has faced this situation before,” he said, referring to 2011 protests that authorities crushed without resorting to foreign help.
“This mission will in large part determine the fate of the CSTO,” he said, referring to the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the six-member alliance which early Thursday agreed to Kazakhstan’s request to send troops to help it deal with protests that had spread across the country.
Russia stepped in to support Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko amid massive anti-government protests there in 2020, but that operation wasn’t conducted under the auspices of the CSTO.
The latest demonstrations started in western Kazakhstan over the weekend over fuel-price rises but rapidly spread across the country, tapping into deep discontent over falling living standards and the country’s repressive political system. Government troops killed dozens of protesters in a crackdown overnight in Almaty, the former capital and largest city.
There was no immediate word on how many troops the CSTO is sending, but Russian news agencies said the first ones arrived early Thursday and began operations.
Konstantin Kosachyov, a senior member of the upper house of Russia’s parliament, said the forces would focus on guarding government and military installations and local law-enforcement but it would be up to Kazakh authorities to restore order.
In a Facebook post, he blamed terrorist groups from Afghanistan and the Middle East for the violence in Kazakhstan but provided no evidence for that claim.
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