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Russia warns against outside meddling in Kazakhstan, urges dialogue

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (file by AFP)

Russia has reacted to the ongoing unrest in Kazakhstan, warning against any outside interference into the internal affairs of the Central Asian nation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Kazakhstan could solve its own problems and it was important that no one interfered from the outside. He also urged "dialogue" in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan as unprecedented unrest spun out of control over an energy price increase.

Kazakhstan had not requested Russian help to deal with the unrest, Peskov said. 

Separately, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement it was closely monitoring the situation in its southern neighbor and counting on the "soonest possible normalization."

"We hope for the earliest possible normalization of the situation in the country, with which Russia is linked by relations of strategic partnership and alliance through fraternal, human contacts."

"We support a peaceful solution to all problems within the legal and constitutional framework and through dialogue, not through street riots and violation of laws," it added.

The ministry said this was precisely the aim of the steps taken by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev "to stabilize the situation and resolve existing problems quickly, including those contained in the legitimate demands of the protesters."

The Kazakh president has already ordered to reinstate energy price caps, but that has failed to appease the people on the streets. The unrest started on Sunday after the government almost doubled fuel prices. More than 200 protesters have been detained so far. A two-week state of emergency is now in place in large swathes of the country.

In Almaty, Kazakhstan's financial capital, police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse crowds of thousands of people who had gathered in the city's main square on Tuesday. The president has claimed the situation was improving in protest-hit cities and towns. President Tokayev has also blamed the violence on domestic and foreign provocateurs.

Russia has been acutely sensitive to unrest in former Soviet republics it regards as part of its sphere of influence. And in the past has accused the US-led West of stoking so-called revolutions in countries such as Georgia and Ukraine.

The latest protests shook the country's image as a politically stable and tightly controlled nation — an image it has used to attract hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment in its oil and metals industries.

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