Protesters stormed government buildings and set them ablaze, and dozens of people were killed in clashes with the country's security forces
The withdrawal comes only a week after the troops were deployed to the ex-Soviet nation on the request of its president, who was seeking to quell extremely violent mass protests over a hike in gas prices. Russian paratroopers were deployed to Kazakhstan as part of a peacekeeping force that included troops from four other former Soviet republics. (AA) Over 2,000 Russia-led troops have begun withdrawing from Kazakhstan after being deployed when peaceful protests over an energy price hike turned into unprecedented violence claiming dozens of lives.
The “collective peacekeeping forces … are starting to prepare equipment and materiel” for the departure Russia's defence ministry said on Thursday.
They will be loaded “into the planes of the military transport aviation of the Russian aerospace forces and returning to the points of permanent deployment,” the ministry added.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has said the phased withdrawal of the foreign troops would take no more than 10 days .
Concern had mounted that Moscow could leverage the mission to shore up its influence in Kazakhstan.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier warned that “once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to leave”.
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The decision to despatch peacekeepers was a first for the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).
The organisation is often touted by Russia as a NATO equivalent, but previously was reluctant to interfere in unrest in Central Asia – a region with long historical ties to Russia.
Tokayev had framed the clashes as a coup attempt assisted by local and international terrorists , and asked for the Russia-led bloc's help .
Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin hinted that the violence was reminiscent of “colour revolutions” instigated by foreign meddling.
While authorities have described the violence as the work of foreign “terrorists”, the protests had erupted on the back of peaceful demonstrations over a rise in fuel prices.
The unrest emerged from a background of deteriorating living standards and endemic corruption.
Protesters stormed government buildings and set them ablaze, and dozens of people were killed in clashes with the country's security forces.
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Source: TRTWorld and agencies