Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his troops credit for helping restore order and preserve the authoritarian regime in Kazakhstan after a week of unrest sparked by what he described as a terrorist uprising backed by foreign powers .
Stores began to reopen as traffic returned to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, Reuters news agency reported. Clean-up crews continue to remove debris from streets, still littered with wrecks of burnt cars, after security forces clashed violently with anti-government protesters last week.
For the first time since Wednesday, the internet was on for several hours. Meanwhile, the area near the mayor’s office was under the control of security forces. Police searched cars at checkpoints, Reuters said.
Russian paratroopers were sent to Kazakhstan last week at the head of a regional peacekeeping mission to protect “strategic installations” following violent protests that have wrecked and burned down public buildings. More than 140 protesters were reportedly killed in clashes between government forces and protesters in cities across the country, and thousands more were arrested.
The deployment of Russian military forces in Kazakhstan comes just as Moscow is embroiled in a tense standoff with the West over the gathering of troops along its border with Ukraine. While Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev claimed on Monday that the protests were fueled by unidentified foreign agitators, the first protests in western Kazakhstan focused on a sharp rise in fuel prices and quickly spread to other cities of the vast Central Asian country.
Mr. Putin on Monday adopted the description of the protests by the Kazakh regime and hailed the government’s apparent victory in suppressing the unrest.
“Of course, we understand that the events in Kazakhstan are not the first and far from the last attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of our states from outside,” Putin said, according to Reuters.
Moscow said they would offer military assistance to the leaders of other former Soviet states facing similar uprisings. Mr Putin told a virtual summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization – an alliance of ex-Soviet states that sent Russian and allied troops to Kazakhstan – that the mission in Kazakhstan prevented the “degradation complete the internal situation “there and blocked terrorists, looters” and other criminal elements “.