NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday blamed Kazakhstan’s violent unrest on destructive internal and external forces, and said the Russian-led CSTO military alliance would not allow its member governments to be toppled in ex-Soviet “colour revolutions”.
He told an online meeting of the leaders of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation by video link that the deployment of CSTO troops had prevented armed groups from undermining the basis of power in Kazakhstan.
“Of course, we understand the events in Kazakhstan are not the first and far from the last attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of our states from the outside,” Putin said.
Thousands of people were detained and some public buildings were torched during mass anti-government protests last week.
“The measures taken by the CSTO have clearly shown we will not allow the situation to be rocked at home and will not allow so-called ‘colour revolutions’ to take place,” he said, referring to several popular ex-Soviet uprisings in the last two decades.
He said the CSTO contingent would be withdrawn once its mission was complete and when Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev thought they were no longer needed.
Putin made the comments after a speech by Tokayev, whose bravery he praised. The Kazakh leader said order had been restored but that the hunt for “terrorists” was ongoing.
Demonstrations started against a fuel price rise before erupting into a wider protest against Tokayev’s government and the man he replaced as president, 81-year-old Nursultan Nazarbayev.
“The threat to Kazakhstan’s statehood arose not because of spontaneous protests and rallies concerning fuel prices. It is because destructive internal and external forces took advantage of the situation,” Putin said.
(Reporting by Tamara Vaal; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn and Mark Trevelyan)