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Kazakhstan gets new prime minister, with foreign troops set to leave

The parliament of Kazakhstan elected Alikhan Smailov as the new prime minister on Tuesday.

The 49-year-old official previously served as Kazakhstan’s finance minister from 2018 to 2020. In 2019, he became the first deputy prime minister in the Cabinet which was dismissed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during last week’s violent protests in the country that began over spiraling fuel prices.

Foreign troops are also set to withdraw from the country, Tokayev told parliament on Tuesday. “The main mission of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) troops has been completed,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sent troops across the border into Kazakhstan to help quell the unrest, accused external forces of orchestrating the riots: “The events in Kazakhstan are not the first and far from the last attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of our states from the outside.”

After days of fierce demonstrations in the resource-rich Central Asian nation, during which Tokayev ordered the police and the army to shoot protesters on sight, around 9,900 people have been arrested.

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