By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
ALMATY (Worthy News) – Troops of a Russian-led military alliance are withdrawing troops from Kazakhstan, officials said, after a weeklong deployment amid violent protests against the autocratic government.
Forces of the Collective Treaty Security Organization, a group resembling the NATO alliance, which includes Russia and five other former Soviet states, began handing over “strategic facilities,” said the Russian Defense Ministry.
Some 2,500 forces, mainly arriving from bases in Russia, were guarding the buildings and local authorities, officials said.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev asked the troops to help stabilize his oil-producing Central Asian country as political unrest left some 164 people dead and thousands injured.
The mainly Muslim country, which declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, producing 1.6 million barrels of oil a day.
What began around the New Year with protests against fuel price hikes turned into rallies expressing wider discontent towards the perceived authoritarian leaders.
A least one military transport plane with Russian troops on board has already departed from the airport in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, according to video footage from the scene.
The Russian defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, said at a meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin on Thursday that the withdrawal should be completed by next Wednesday.
The European Union and the United States were closely watching the situation, with officials expressing concerns over both the violence and the arrival of Russian troops in the region.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.