Putin rebuilding Soviet Union: Russian troop deployment has ‘eerie echoes’ of dictatorship

Kazakhstan erupts in protest as flashbangs used to disperse protesters

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Kazakhstan is a former Soviet republic that has seen riots break out in recent days over fuel prices. Prices doubled for everyday citizens attempting to fill up their vehicles with liquid petroleum gas over the weekend.

These demonstrations then took on a new life as anti-governmental dissent, with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev petitioning the Collective Security Treaty Organisation for help.

The Collective Security Treaty Organisation, headquartered in Moscow, is an alliance that includes several states of the former Soviet Union.

Mr Tokayev claimed the unrest was led by unspecified “terrorist bands”, and did not offer evidence to corroborate the claim.

Russian paratroopers, or “peacekeeping forces” arrived in Kazakhstan after reports of civilian and police casualties in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty.

They are the most widespread protests to be sparked in the Central Asian country since it became independent over thirty years ago.

Recent figures from the Kazakh police say just shy of 2,300 demonstrators have been arrested.

Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia and a professor of political science at Stanford University, took to social media to draw parallels between the arrival of Russian paratroopers in Kazakhstan this week and the Soviet forces which marched into then-Soviet states during the twentieth century.

He wrote that the CSTO intervention had “eerie echoes of Hungary 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968”.

He added in a separate tweet: “The UN Security Council is the venue to discuss the possibility of peacekeepers in Kazakhstan, not the CSTO.”

In 1956, Hungary went through what is often termed the Hungarian Revolution, when independent Communist politician, Imre Nagy, came to power.

He pursued a line of Hungarian independence from the rule of the Soviet Union, which was, at the time, led by Nikita Khrushchev.

Khrushchev, who had denounced a number of qualities of the regime of Josef Stalin, had sparked a feeling of increased freedom around political debate.

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It snowballed in Hungary until unrest became violent in October 1956.

Soviet forces then invaded to squash the protesters.

Leonid Brezhnev, mirroring the actions of his predecessor, sent Soviet tanks rolling into Czechoslovakia to crush the nascent Prague Spring in 1968.

The communist leader of Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubček, had pursued liberal reforms veering away from the Moscow line.

This has alarmed senior Kremlin figures who counted on the Eastern European country as a staunch Cold War ally.

For those watching the advance of what is reportedly 1,500 Russian-led troops into Kazakhstan this week, they may experience no small amount of déjà vu.

In a televised address, Mr Tokayev gave “special thanks” to Vladimir Putin for sending the forces, and thoroughly dismissed the idea of negotiating with protestors.

He asked: “What kind of talks can we hold with criminal and murderers?”

He added: “We had to deal with armed and well-prepared bandits, local as well as foreign. More precisely, with terrorists.

“So we have to destroy them, this will be done soon.”

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