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Putin says Russia-led alliance will foil foreign plots to stoke unrest in Kazakhstan

File photo of Kazakh security forces trying to counter violent protesters

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the recent protests in Kazakhstan was stoked by virulent internal and external forces, insisting that the Russia-led military alliance would not permit them to destabilize the country.

In his remarks on Monday, Putin stressed that the latest unrest was not the first or the last attempt to interfere in the region and that the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) would not allow "color revolutions" to reemerge, referring to several foreign-sponsored upheavals in former Soviet republics over the last decade.

The Russian president also pointed out that the deployment of CSTO forces had thwarted a plot by armed groups to undermine the basis of power in Kazakhstan and that they would be pulled out following the completion of their mission.

Putin’s latest remarks on Kazakhstan came two days after he and his Kazakh counterpart, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, discussed steps to “restore order” in the country, following violent protests that were triggered by a sharp rise in fuel prices in the Central Asian nation.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Kremlin said the two leaders held a "lengthy" phone conversation to discuss the ongoing unrest, adding that they "exchanged views on the measures taken to restore order in Kazakhstan."

Tokayev also informed Putin "in detail" about the situation in the country, "noting that it is developing towards stabilization," the Kremlin noted. 

The Kazakh president on Monday said his country had faced an attempted coup d'etat coordinated by what he described as "a single centre" a week after it underwent a huge unrest following a major hike in fuel prices.

"Armed militants who were waiting in the wings joined the protests. The main goal was obvious: the undermining of the constitutional order, the destruction of government institutions and the seizure of power. It was an attempted coup d'etat," he underlined.

Addressing an online meeting of the CSTO by video link, Tokayev also declared that order had now been restored in Kazakhstan, but that the hunt for "terrorists" remained in progress.

He added that a large-scale "counter-terrorism" operation would soon end along with a CSTO mission that he said involved 2,030 troops and 250 pieces of military hardware.

The Kazakh said his country would soon provide proof to the international community about what had happened, adding that 16 security personnel had been killed, and a number of civilians killed during the unrest, which was being investigated.

Dozens have been killed in the unrest and the interior ministry stated earlier on Monday that nearly 8,000 people had been arrested in operations executed by several branches of Kazakh security services.

Moreover, Kazakh authorities reiterated on Sunday that the situation has been stabilized and that President Tokayev is firmly in charge after the week-long unrest that rocked Central Asia’s largest country.

“The situation has been stabilized in all regions of the country,” said the presidential office in a statement detailing the security briefing chaired by Tokayev, adding that law enforcement agencies had managed to seize back control of administrative buildings and that vital services were being restored.

Mass protests began in Kazakhstan's western province of Mangistau on January 2, after the government decided to lift price controls on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) — a move that roughly doubled gas prices in a matter of days. Protests then engulfed other parts of the country.

Tokayev declared a two-week state of emergency on Wednesday that included a curfew, movement restrictions, and a ban on mass gatherings in the major cities of Almaty and Mangistau. 

Rioters torched and ransacked public buildings in several cities, prompting Tokayev to issue orders on Friday to end the unrest, which he has blamed on 20,000 “armed bandits."

The deadliest outbreak of violence in 30 years of independence in Kazakhstan is regarded as an attempt by foreign parties to provoke “color revolutions” in the ex-Soviet country, modeled on the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia and the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, which Russia has blamed on the West.

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