Russia-led troops pull out of Kazakhstan

A Russia-led military bloc began pulling its troops out of Kazakhstan on Thursday (January 13) - marked by this withdrawal ceremony.

It comes after a week-long deployment amid an explosion of unrest in the Central Asian nation.

Authorities claim the country's former security chief was suspected of attempting a coup.

Russia said the withdrawal of the troops would be completed on January 19, earlier than previously announced.

Their deployment had been criticized by Western leaders alarmed by a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine.

Moscow has denied allegations it plans to invade but said security talks this week had hit a dead end and threatened unspecified consequences.

It was unclear how many troops out of about 2,500 sent were leaving immediately.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev asked for assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization or CSTO last week....

...after what started as a peaceful protests, triggered by a sharp increase in car fuel prices, turned violent in many big cities.

The Kazakh authorities announced the completion of what they called an "anti-terrorist operation" in most of the country on Wednesday, although they have yet to declare its biggest city Almaty fully secure.

The authorities have detained almost 10,000 people over the unrest, saying some of the protesters were foreigners trained by Islamist militants.

Tokayev has said this justified CSTO involvement.

Some Kazakhs have echoed a comment by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Kazakhstan might have a hard time getting rid of Russian troops after letting them in.

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