Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said his country defeated a coup attempt following widespread unrest last week.
In a speech at an online meeting of the Russian-led military bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Tokayev said that order has now been restored in Kazakhstan, but the hunt for “Terrorists” continued.
“Under the guise of spontaneous protests, a wave of unrest erupted … It became clear that the main objective was to undermine constitutional order and seize power. We are talking about an attempted coup, ”he said.
After Mr. Tokayev’s speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the unrest in Kazakhstan had been exploited by “destructive internal and external forces” and insisted that the Russian-led CSTO military alliance would not allow no other forces to destabilize the country.
The events were not the first and would not be the last attempt to interfere in the region, he said, and he insisted that the CSTO would not allow further “color revolutions” , a reference to several uprisings in the former Soviet Union or country under Soviet control in recent decades.
He added that the deployment of Russian troops had prevented armed groups from undermining power bases in Kazakhstan and that they would be withdrawn once their mission was completed.
Meanwhile, China has announced its readiness to increase “law enforcement and security” cooperation with neighboring Kazakhstan, and help oppose interference from “outside forces.” .
Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the comments during an appeal to Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
“The recent unrest in Kazakhstan shows that the situation in Central Asia is still facing serious problems, and it proves once again that some outside forces do not want peace and quiet in our region,” the ministry said citing Mr. Wang to Mr. Tleuberdi.
Experts believe China is worried about instability in its neighboring country, which could threaten energy imports and Belt and Road projects (China’s strategy for developing global infrastructure) as well as security in its western region of Xinjiang, which shares a 1,770 km (1,110 mile) border. with Kazakhstan.
Protests against rising fuel prices began a week ago before escalating into a larger protest against Mr Tokayev’s government and the man he replaced as president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81 , who ruled from 1990 to 2019.
Protests were reported across the country, but appeared to be most severe in the former capital, Almaty. Violent clashes took place between demonstrators and police.
President Tokayev announced a shoot-to-kill order as protests escalated, a move criticized by the United States. He also denounced the people in the streets as “terrorists”, a claim denied by ordinary Kazakhs, who said they were protesting because of genuine anger against their leaders.
It was reported on Monday that the internet had been restored in Almaty after a five-day outage.
The protests were the worst experienced in Kazakhstan since its independence 30 years ago.
The country’s health ministry said on Sunday that 164 people had been killed in the civil unrest, including three children.
Kazakhstan’s interior ministry said a total of 7,939 people have been detained across the country. The National Security Committee, the Kazakh counter-intelligence and counterterrorism agency, said on Monday that the situation in the country had “stabilized” and was “under control”.
The uprising in Kazakhstan rocked an already unstable region and is the latest example of unrest in a country bordering Russia. In 2020, protests took place after Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, claimed victory in a contested presidential election. And talks are due to start this week on the security situation in Ukraine.
Mr. Tokayev said the large-scale “counterterrorism” operation would soon end, as well as the CSTO mission.
“The main blow was directed against [the city of] Almaty. The fall of this city would have paved the way for a takeover of the densely populated south and then of the whole country, ”he said. “Then they planned to take over the capital.”
Mr Tokayev defended his decision to invite Russian-led troops to the country and said doubts over the mission’s legitimacy stemmed from a lack of information.
Kazakhstan will soon provide proof to the international community of what happened, he said. The authorities declared today (Monday) a day of mourning for dozens of victims of the unrest, which has been marked by unprecedented violence.