US warns 'world is watching' Russian conduct in Kazakhstan

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WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Thursday (Jan 6) warned Russian troops deployed to Kazakhstan against taking control of the former Soviet republic's institutions, saying the world would watch for rights violations.

"The United States and, frankly, the world will be watching for any violation of human rights," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

"We will also be watching for any actions that may lay the predicate for the seizure of Kazakh institutions."

Price said he will "leave it to the government of Kazakhstan" to explain the rationale for inviting in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

The group's current chairman, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, said the alliance was responding to a request due to "outside interference."

Without addressing the allegation, Price renewed a call for Kazakhstan to take up the causes of the unrest, which was sparked by rare mass protests triggered by fuel prices.

"We hope that the government of Kazakhstan will soon be able to address problems which are fundamentally economic and political in nature," Price said, calling the US a "partner" of the Central Asian nation.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier on Thursday called his counterpart, Mukhtar Tleuberdi, and pushed for both a peaceful resolution and respect for media freedoms.

Blinken "reiterated the United States' full support for Kazakhstan's constitutional institutions and media freedom and advocated for a peaceful, rights-respecting resolution to the crisis," Price said.

Price said Blinken also used the call to discuss concerns about Russian troop movements near another former Soviet republic - Ukraine.

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