Jan 6, 2022
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Alma-Ata on fire: CSTO will tough to pacify protesters

In the photo: protesters against the rise in fuel prices.

In the photo: protesters against the rise in fuel prices. (Photo: Yerlan Dzhumaev / TASS)

Apparently, in the near future, the first peacekeeping operation in the history of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will begin – an operation in Kazakhstan, engulfed in mass unrest.

In his speech at a meeting of the Kazakh Security Council, the President of the Republic Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stated that he turned to the leaders of the countries of this military organization for help. He said the state faced external aggression as the riots were staged by “terrorist gangs … trained abroad.” Formerly Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots Leonid Kalashnikov stated that the military contingent can be introduced into the territory of Kazakhstan in accordance with the charter of the bloc and this does not require the approval of the Russian parliament. According to him, “there is a charter of the CSTO, special forces of the CSTO, they are in constant readiness, are being trained, including for such situations.” He also said that the main task of the peacekeepers will be to ensure the security of facilities and infrastructure.

On the night of January 6, the head of the Collective Security Council (coordinating body of the CSTO) Nicole Pashinyan said that the member countries of the association decided to send collective peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan. They will remain in the republic until the situation stabilizes. In this regard, the aviation regiment of the military airfield in the Orenburg region was put on alert to send a contingent from Russia. According to the telegram channel Baza, the 11th separate guards engineering brigade, stationed in the city of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, is being prepared for the transfer.

Also, a company of special forces of the 76th airborne division, as well as a company of the 45th special forces brigade of paratroopers, will go to Kazakhstan, REN TV reports. In addition, on high alert from the 2nd and 24th special forces brigades of the Central Military District. They can be reinforced by the battalion of the 55th Mountain Brigade of the Central Military District.

Meanwhile, mass unrest continues in Kazakhstan. There is still calm in Nur-Sultan, but the administrative buildings have been taken under increased security. An armored personnel carrier is located near the capital’s airport, military and police officers armed with firearms are on duty.

Photo gallery
Photo: protesters near the burning building of the akimat.  Protesters against the rise in fuel prices broke into the akimat building and set it on fire.26 Shots at the presidential residence in Alma-Ata, the city hall and the airport were taken by storm: What is happening now in Kazakhstan
Photo: protesters near the burning building of the akimat. Protesters against the rise in fuel prices broke into the akimat building and set it on fire. (Photo: Valery Sharifulin / TASS)

In Alma-Ata, which became the center of unrest, the power was in the hands of the protesters. According to mass media, in the evening of January 5 and in the morning of January 6, automatic fires were heard in various districts of the city. To organize a rebuff, the authorities attracted airborne troops, as well as cadets of military schools. As stated by the vice mayor Yerzhan Babakumarov, an anti-terrorist operation began in the city.

The participants in the riots acquired weapons – the weapons rooms of the local administration of the National Security Committee and the buildings of law enforcement agencies were looted. Their arsenal was also replenished with weapons taken from law enforcement officers, some of whom went over to the side of the protesters. The building of the city hall of Almaty was taken by storm and plundered by looters. Computers, some household appliances, valuable things were taken out of it. After that, a barricade was erected on him. In addition, many trade establishments were looted in the city, in particular, the Moscow shopping center, from which, according to the Zakon telegram channel. Kz, the goods were taken out by cars. As for the disseminated information about interruptions in electricity and water supply, they, according to the Deputy Mayor of Almaty, do not correspond to reality.

It became known about the death of two Kazakh servicemen during the battles for the Almaty airport. Details of the combat operation and the death of the military are not given. According to Babakumarov, the air harbor has been vacated and is being transferred to a regular mode of operation. At the same time, the airport accepts aircraft “on request only”. According to preliminary information, in this mode it will work until 21:00 on January 6. In the future, it is possible that the special mode of operation will be extended. As for the airport in Aktau, it does not work yet and, apparently, remains in the hands of the rioters.

As for the versions about possible initiators of mass unrest in Kazakhstan, a number of politicians put forward a version about the involvement of Western countries in them. Leader of the Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov noted in his telegram channel that “the collective West will do everything to destabilize the situation along the Russian borders,” stressing, however, that the riots were provoked by the Kazakh government.

White House spokesman Jen Psaki rushed to deny accusations of involvement of the United States in what is happening, saying that Washington “calls on the authorities of Kazakhstan to show restraint, and protesters – to express their demands peacefully.”

As noted by “SP” a senior researcher at the Center for Post-Soviet Studies, IMEMO RAN Stanislav Pritchin, “Foreign interference in events cannot be ruled out, but in this case it is rather limited – after all, the disturbances are more of a social nature.” However, the rapid increase in the scale of protests, the presence of clear contacts between their organizers in various cities allows us to assert that unrest cannot be called spontaneous in any way.

It is possible that the roots of the current unrest should be sought in the contradictions between the Kazakh clans, originating in the zhuzes – tribal unions of Kazakh clans. It is the clan associations, according to a number of observers, in Kazakhstan are much stronger than political parties and other public structures.

Back in December 1986, after the well-known riots in the Kazakh SSR, the CPSU Central Committee received analytical notes with a proposal to study the role of regional clans as instigators of those events. After all, the top of the clans, concerned about preserving their power, may well turn to foreign special services for assistance. However, the party leadership did not attach any importance to such signals at that time. And it seems that no proper lessons have been learned from the events of 35 years ago in Moscow.

During the reign Nazarbayeva Kazakh clans were under the thumb of Elbasy. However, with his departure, the grip of the central government weakened and inter-clan conflicts erupted with renewed vigor. And in this regard, the fall of the monument to Nazarbayev in Taldykorgan is very symbolic.

Of course, the CSTO troops will restore order for a while. However, internal contradictions in Kazakhstan will not go anywhere. And the Russian leadership should not forget about this either.

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