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All Malaysians, investments safe after unrest, says Kazakhstan

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© Provided by Free Malaysia Today A Collective Security Treaty Organisation peacekeeper stands guard in an area in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Tuesday following the recent unrest in the country. (AP pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Kazakhstan has assured Malaysia that its citizens and investments in the country worth billions of ringgit are safe after the recent unrest there.

There are more than 70 Malaysians in Kazakhstan and Malaysian companies have invested over US$1 billion (RM4.18 billion) in the country over the past 30 years.

At a press conference today, Kazakh ambassador Bulat Sugurbayev said he would be engaging Malaysian investors to reassure them that their interests were being looked after.

“We remain committed to working on enhancing market economy values, rule of law and investment protection,” he said.

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Bulat Sugurbayev.

Sugurbayev said all Malaysians in Kazakhstan were safe and that none had requested to return home yet.

Commenting on the recent unrest, he said the “darkest nights of Kazakhstan are over” after the city of Almaty was attacked in an attempted coup d’etat.

On Jan 5, he said, a peaceful demonstration that started three days earlier over fuel prices was hijacked by well-organised groups.

He said the protesters’ demands had been “heard and met” by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Jan 4 with an announcement of a temporary regulation on prices for gas and other critical products like food and utilities for 180 days.

He claimed violent and “destructive religious extremist” groups had destroyed critical infrastructure and isolated Almaty.

Internet and mobile services were shut down immediately to stop the extremist groups from communicating with one another, he said.

“The extremists also killed at random innocent people, attacked ambulances and firefighters and stormed hospitals,” he said. More than 160 people had died in the unrest, according to CNN.

Sugurbayev said the attempted coup could not have been carried out without the help of high-level officers, including security officials, adding that a probe for treason was under way.

He said the situation in Kazakhstan had now stabilised with the army and law enforcement combating the “terrorists”. The nation was receiving support from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) to counter these “radical Islamists and terrorists”.

He said the CSTO forces would be leaving the country in 10 days, after which the Almaty International Airport would reopen for flights. All the other airports in Kazakhstan remained open.