Presence of CSTO forces in Kazakhstan - illegal, foreign experts say

Presence of CSTO forces in Kazakhstan - illegal, foreign experts say

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 8


Protests, which began due to the rise in fuel prices, continue in Kazakhstan since January 2, Trend reports.

The protests gradually escalated into riots, and the country’s government has been dismissed as a result.

A state of emergency has been introduced all across the country. In particular, a curfew is in effect in Mangistau and Almaty regions from 23:00 to 7:00 (GMT +6). The state of emergency will operate until 00:00 January 19.

On January 5, the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appealed to the CSTO in connection with the situation in the country. He called the protesters terrorist gangs and said that they underwent serious training abroad and their attack on Kazakhstan can and should be viewed as an act of aggression.

On January 6, the CSTO Collective Security Council decided to send the collective peacekeeping forces of the organization to Kazakhstan. The military of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were included in the peacekeeping contingent. Western experts consider the presence of CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) forces in Kazakhstan illegal and contrary to the charter of this organization.

According to the US expert and analyst Irina Tsukerman, the CSTO presence in the Central Asian country exceeds its legal authority and implies that the parties involved will try to advance an unsupportable theory to justify their presence that the domestic unrest was an act of provocation of foreign powers, such as Western countries.

The government of Kazakhstan described the protesters as "terrorists" and requested CSTO's assistance in handling the unrest. Claiming intervention by some foreign powers gave CSTO a convenient excuse to establish a long term or permanent presence in the strategically important energy-rich country, the expert pointed out.

Tsukerman said that all of these developments follow a well known playbook of interethnic and factional instigation by CSTO, which is based on the model once successfully utilized by the Soviet Union to create internal divisions within the various territories.

She noted that the episode of January 20, 1990, when the Soviet troops invaded Azerbaijan and pillaged and murdered locals is one of the historic precedents for the abuse of power and hegemonic ambitions.

According to former US ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza, in order to understand how legal was the introduction of the CSTO peacekeepers into Kazakhstan, it’s necessary to study the specifics of the CSTO charter clauses.

In accordance with the charter, if an act of aggression is committed against any of the participating States, all other participating States undertake to provide the necessary assistance, Bryza reminded.

"Thus, a legal obligation takes the form of a contractual one in the form of assistance to another participating country in the event of an external threat. The events in Kazakhstan are an internal affair of this country, while the CSTO intervention from a political point of view is difficult to justify," he said.

According to him, people in Kazakhstan talk about external aggression and a terrorist threat to justify the intervention of the CSTO.

"However the CSTO made a decision to bring peacekeepers to Kazakhstan based on the request of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev," he emphasized.

The former ambassador stressed that the intervention of the CSTO forces in Kazakhstan and the bloody events of January 20, 1990 in Baku have some common features.

"The introduction of combat units of the USSR army in Baku was approved by Moscow to suppress large-scale demonstrations of the popular masses. In the case of Kazakhstan, the intervention is carried out by the CSTO bloc," concluded Bryza.

The preliminary data says that damage inflicted to business in Kazakhstan as a result of the riots exceeds 88.1 billion tenge (approximately $200 million). In 10 regions of the country, about 920 affected business entities located at 1,091 facilities were identified. Of these, 856 entities are located at 1,027 facilities in Almaty.

The special services of Kazakhstan have detained Karim Massimov, the former chairman of the National Security Committee of the country, on suspicion of high treason. In a number of the regions, law enforcement structures continue operational measures to identify and arrest criminals. The number of detained persons as to date is 4,404.

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