The situation in Kazakhstan has been brought under control

The forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) began to leave Kazakhstan, where they were on a peacekeeping mission. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the peacekeepers managed to restore law and order, and now the government of Kazakhstan will have to resolve the remaining issues “in a calm manner” and “in dialogue with society.” At the same time, both the Russian president and Kommersant’s interlocutors in the CSTO countries admit that the first use of the organization’s forces in a real crisis should be analyzed and, if necessary, changes should be made to the work procedure.

Gone not too early and not too late

“The first units loaded their equipment and personnel onto the aircraft of the military transport aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces and flew from Almaty airport to the point of permanent deployment,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday evening. It was about paratroopers from the Ivanovo region.

In general, the withdrawal of the CSTO forces should be completed on January 19. “Tomorrow we are withdrawing all the forces of our colleagues from Armenia, Tajikistan, Belarus with 14 sides. Kyrgyz colleagues leave, taking into account the fact that they are nearby (leave Kazakhstan.— “b”), on its own. Then, within five days, the withdrawal will be carried out as the objects of the remaining peacekeeping forces are handed over,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian leader made it clear that he was pleased with the operation. “The fact that with the help of the CSTO forces it was possible to restore the situation, law and order is being restored, this is very important,” Mr. Putin said. “This will allow the leadership of the Republic of Kazakhstan to resolve issues of a socio-economic, political nature in a free, calm manner, in dialogue with society.” .

When, at a solemn ceremony in Almaty, journalists asked CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas if the allied forces were in a hurry to complete the operation, which began only on January 6, he answered in the negative. “The situation here is completely taken under control by law enforcement agencies, so the task is completed,” he reported. And he noted that the first mission of the CSTO will be the subject for studying and identifying problems in the work of the organization: “In a calm atmosphere, we will analyze the actions of the peacekeepers. If any adjustments are needed, we will make adjustments to our legal framework.”

“Symbolism and Political Meaning”

Experts interviewed by Kommersant in the CSTO countries have already shared their ideas. Thus, according to Kazakh political scientist Eduard Poletaev, the peacekeeping mission helped to rid the CSTO of the labels that were previously attached to it – for example, that it is an “instrument of Russian occupation.” “In fact, this organization, for the first time in 30 years of its existence, has shown its adequacy,” the expert noted. “The CSTO has always been perceived primarily as an organization that, in the event of an attack by militants from Afghanistan, will be able to coordinate the forces of the participating states and organize resistance. Since the past events were qualified as terrorism, the CSTO, according to the mandate, had the right to make such decisions. A precedent has been created, and if something like this happens again, there will be no more talk about the occupation.”

Kubatbek Rakhimov, who has served as an adviser to several prime ministers of Kyrgyzstan, is convinced that the experience of the past mission should be “institutionalized”.

“The need to change the format of the work of the CSTO is overdue, the statutory documents require revision. But they only need to consolidate what de facto already exists,” he told Kommersant. “In Kazakhstan, the CSTO forces defended strategic facilities. This can be written in the order of actions of the organization in case of instability in the country or a border conflict. This is how France acts during conflicts in the zone of its interests in Africa. Indeed, the CSTO should not be a tool for maintaining the power of an autocrat, which many fear. But if a mechanism is worked out so that in the event of a crisis, the allied forces take control of the infrastructure, this will cool many hotheads.”

The first peacekeeping mission of the CSTO made popular the opinion that the organization is focused primarily on internal challenges, while it is reluctant to respond to external threats – for example, from Azerbaijan against Armenia. True, Alexander Iskandaryan, director of the Yerevan Caucasus Institute, urged not to draw far-reaching conclusions so quickly. “Firstly, we are well aware that Russia is the driving force behind the CSTO and it was she who carried out the operation in Kazakhstan,” the Armenian expert told Kommersant. “Secondly, it was not a military operation. Symbolism and political meaning were important here. But even this process is not completed.

“It would be stupid to consider the actions of the CSTO member countries without taking into account the internal addressee,” Farrukh Salimov, an associate professor at the Tajik National University, admitted in an interview with Kommersant. “Of course, this step caused not only condemnation, but also fear among all opposition forces in the countries of the organization . There were many statements that the CSTO does not have the mandate to conduct such operations inside the country, that the mission will be a warning to all those who disagree.” But it will be possible to assert that this is true only if the investigation of what happened in Kazakhstan leaves many questions unanswered, summed up the interlocutor of Kommersant in Dushanbe.

Find the guilty

Law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan consider the incident as a conspiracy of internal and external forces. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Kazakhstan, 412 people were arrested, and 494 more criminal cases (in particular, for participating in riots, murders and involvement in terrorism).

In turn, the National Security Committee (KNB) reported on the course of investigative actions against the person who, on January 4, was in charge of this department – Karim Masimov. If earlier he was accused only of treason, now new articles have been added to the case – the forcible seizure of power and abuse of office. Two deputies of Mr. Massimov, who were arrested the day before, Anuar Sadykulov and Daulet Yergozhin, are also suspected of this.

Yermukhamet Yertysbayev, a former adviser to the country’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is not surprised that the security forces are being blamed for the events.

“It is well known that many high-ranking KNB officers “protected” this or that business, and the country’s security issues were in tenth place for them,” he told Kommersant. Yergozhin, for example, came to the civil service from business. Many honest officers informed me that not all is well in the department.” Mr. Yertysbaev drew attention to the fact that “he publicly spoke on his YouTube channel about the danger of extremism in the country, about foreign agents of influence, about potential threats.” “I believe that this KNB should be disbanded and a completely new body should be created – the Security Service of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” he added.

At the same time, the Kommersant interlocutor does not share the popular idea that a confrontation is developing between Mr. Nazarbayev and the current president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. “For starters, the conspirators would like to scare the head of state so that he would leave the country and leave,” suggested Mr. Yertysbaev. “Almaty is extremely convenient and is located in a mountain range. This is a densely populated city of two million people, which has always opposed Nursultan Nazarbayev in elections – always the lowest turnout and the largest percentage against him. Again, a lot of gun shops, a lot of malls where you can attract robbers and looters.”

Despite the complexity of the incident, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Channel One on Thursday that the causes of the crisis were “roughly understandable” to Moscow. True, he did not go into details, deciding only to cross out some versions: “One part of theorists speculates that this is all arranged by the West in order to weaken our positions before the negotiations in Geneva and Brussels, others accuse us of having provoked this to break into Kazakhstan and take control of it. It’s all from the evil one.” According to the minister, “Kazakh authorities are conducting a thorough full-fledged investigation, and they will announce the results when this investigation is completed.”

Kirill Krivosheev; Alexander Konstantinov, Nur-Sultan; Arshaluys Mgdesyan, Yerevan

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