Kazakh leader asks local authorities to make his birthplace and former capital Almaty "look even better than before" after days of violent clashes between police and rioters damaged the city.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has arrived in the former capital, Almaty — the city that suffered the most in recent demonstrations — and instructed authorities to renovate the country's largest metropolis and "make it better."
In a meeting with authorities at the operational headquarters on Wednesday, Tokayev said he came to personally assess the scale of the "terrorist attack" on the city, according to the statement from the presidency.
He instructed the government commission, along with the Almaty municipality, to restore infrastructure facilities as soon as possible, including buildings of state bodies, law enforcement and special structures, as well as video surveillance systems.
"You know, Almaty is my hometown. This is where I was born and studied. Now we are faced with the task of rebuilding this city in the shortest possible time. This is a matter of honour for me as president and as a citizen of our state," he said.
"I have no doubts that the city will be rebuilt, and the government's task is to make the city look even better than before. We need to work very well," Tokayev said.
Withdrawal of Russian-led forces
Tokayev underlined that the gradual withdrawal of Russian-led peace forces, members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), from the country will start on Thursday.
"An organised withdrawal of the CSTO peacekeeping contingent begins tomorrow," he said.
CSTO forces consist of military units from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Noting that he had negotiations with the leaders of the respective states, Tokayev thanked the contingent command for work done during the protests and its aftermath.
"The very presence of the CSTO peacekeeping contingent in Kazakhstan, including in Almaty, played a very important role in terms of stabilising the situation in our country," he said.
"Of course, this was of great psychological importance for repelling the aggression of terrorists and bandits. The mission is assessed as very successful," he added.
Medals for killed servicemen
Tokayev also met the relatives of police officers and servicemen killed in the "tragic events" in Almaty.
The president expressed his condolences and talked with family members of killed security forces, as well as pointed out that the state will provide them with "all kinds of support."
He presented medals to relatives of dead security forces, noting that they were awarded for their "courage and dedication" in the performance of their military and official duties, and for actions to protect the interests of the state.