Russia withdraws its soldiers deployed in Kazakhstan

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian troops deployed to Kazakhstan for violent protests that rocked the country have returned to Russia, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said.

The soldiers were part of a peacekeeping mission for the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of six former Soviet nations led by Russia. The bloc approved the dispatch of a contingent of more than 2,000 troops on January 5 at the request of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The demonstrations began on January 2 in the west of the country as a result of the sharp increase in fuel prices, but soon spread to the rest of the nation, which experienced a scene of violence for several days. Protesters seized government buildings and set them on fire, and dozens of people were killed in clashes with security forces.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that all its planes carrying soldiers were back in the country. It was unclear if troops from bloc nations were still on Kazakh soil.

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