President of Kazakhstan says he has weathered attempted coup d’etat

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said Monday that after the most violent unrest since the collapse of the Soviet Union, his country had survived a coup attempt coordinated by what he called a “single center”.

Speaking to an online meeting of the Russian-led military alliance CSTO via video link, Tokayev said that order has now been restored in Kazakhstan, but the hunt for “terrorists” is continuing.

“A wave of unrest broke out under the guise of spontaneous protests … It became clear that the main objective was to undermine the constitutional order and seize power. We’re talking about an attempted coup, ”he said.

Demonstrations against fuel price hikes began a little over a week ago, before a broader protest against Tokayev’s government and the man he was replacing as president, 81-year-old Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“The main blow was against (the city) Almaty. The fall of this city would have paved the way for a takeover of the densely populated south and then the whole country, ”he said. “Then they planned to conquer the capital.”

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Tokayev said a large-scale “counterterrorism” operation would end soon, along with a CSTO mission which he said included 2,030 soldiers and 250 pieces of military equipment.

Tokayev defended his decision to invite Russian-led troops into the country, saying that doubts about the legitimacy of this mission were due to a lack of information.

Kazakhstan will soon provide evidence of what has happened to the international community, he said. 16 members of the security forces were killed, the number of civilian victims is still being checked, he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in defending Kazakhstan from what he described as a foreign-backed terrorist insurgency and promised the leaders of other ex-Soviet states that the Moscow-led alliance would protect them too.

He said at the virtual summit that the CSTO had managed to “prevent the undermining of the state’s foundations, the complete deterioration of the internal situation in Kazakhstan and block terrorists, criminals, looters and other criminal elements”.

“Of course we understand that the events in Kazakhstan are not the first and by no means the last attempt to interfere from outside in the internal affairs of our states,” he said. “The measures taken by the CSTO have clearly shown that we will not allow the situation at home to be shaken.”

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