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Government says situation in Kazakhstan has 'stabilized'

Officials from Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry announced Sunday that the situation in the Central Asian country has "stabilized" and that all government buildings have been secured, Reuters reported.

According to The Washington Post, the government is also attempting, without evidence, to blame the attacks on foreign terror groups and to push back against what they call the "false impression that the Kazakhstan government has been targeting peaceful protesters." President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told soldiers to "shoot to kill without warning" during a televised address Friday.

During a week of unrest kicked off by an increase in the price of liquified petroleum gas, protestors burned the country's presidential residence and stormed its largest airport, which remains closed. At least 26 demonstrators and 18 law enforcement officers were killed, and more than 5,000 people have reportedly been detained.

Kazakhstan remains under an internet blackout.

Authorities also announced that several "strategic facilities have been transferred under the protection of the united peacekeeping contingent of the [Collective Security Treaty Organization] member states," a contingent made up mostly of Russian troops.

Observers have warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use the unrest in Kazakhstan as an opportunity to expand Russian power over the former Soviet republic. "I think one lesson in recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to leave," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday.

Kazakh authorities announced Saturday that Karim Massimov, a former two-time prime minister and until recently head of the country's counterintelligence agency, had been arrested and charged with high treason.

Massimov was seen as a close ally of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the authoritarian leader who ruled Kazakhstan from its independence in 1991 until 2019 and remained influential behind the scenes even after stepping down. Tokayev, who came to power as Nazarbayev's chosen successor, removed Nazarbayev from his chairmanship of Kazakhstan's Security Council on Wednesday.