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Russia-led troops begin pullback from Kazakhstan

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The decision to dispatch troops was a first for the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), an alliance of ex-Soviet states often touted by Russia as a NATO equivalent, following an urgent plea from Kazakhstan's leadership."The peacekeeping operation is over," said Russian General Andrei Serdyukov, commander of the contingent that included troops from Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan."We must come home. We've completed our mission," Putin told Shoigu during their meeting.The move sparked concerns that Moscow would leverage the mission to shore up influence in Kazakhstan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier warned that "once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to leave".The financial hub of 1.8 million people was devastated during clashes between security forces and government opponents that gave way to a spree of looting.One strategic complex the troop contingent was guarding was Almaty airport, which was reportedly seized by government opponents last week.Last week's violence erupted on the back of rallies over a rise in fuel prices and against a background of deteriorating living standards and endemic corruption.Putin hinted that the violence was reminiscent of "colour revolutions" instigated with foreign help and at least 12,000 people have been detained, police said, with at least three journalists reportedly under arrest.- 'Provoked by West' -"I see these events as a kind of Orange Revolution provoked by the West," Shaimukhambetov said, referring to political protests that erupted in Ukraine in 2004.Tokayev this week launched an attack on his long-ruling mentor and predecessor Nazarbayev, 81, who was a focal point for protests and widely viewed as Kazakhstan's main player  prior to the crisis. The status of another former deputy head of the committee, Nazarbayev nephew Samat Abish, remained unclear, despite the presidential press service announcing another official in his place last week.Neither Nazarbayev or his immediate family have made public appearances since the crisis began, although his press secretary has claimed he was in the capital.The 58-year-old is at her home in Almaty recovering from the coronavirus, media reported Thursday, citing her assistant. bur-cr-jbr/acl/pvh…

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Continue Reading News Story. Published by Canada Central Press Syndicate. For feedback write to Amnon Jakony, Founding Editor/Publisher - amnon [at] Thanks for reading.

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