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Putin’s troops help secure Kazakhstan in wake of massive protests

Kazakh forces, backed by Russian-led troops, are pressing ahead with operations to restore control after crushing the biggest protests in the central Asian nation in decades.

About 5,800 people, including foreigners, have been detained since the demonstrations erupted, and law enforcement is carrying out raids throughout the country, the Kazakh presidential administration said on its website Sunday. Dozens have been reported killed, and the real number is thought to be much higher.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared victory in a bloody confrontation with people protesting widespread corruption and poverty in what is the most serious challenge to Kazakh leadership since independence in 1991. Troops from the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization have secured key infrastructure, according to the administration.

Kazakh authorities arrested Karim Massimov, a key ally of the country’s first president and the former head of the National Security Committee, and other unidentified officials on Jan. 6 on suspicion of treason, the committee said in a statement Saturday. Massimov served twice as prime minister under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who turned the presidency over to Tokayev in 2019 while retaining much of his political and economic power. Nazarbayev, 81, hasn’t been seen in public since the protests exploded this week.

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“Massimov’s arrest fits into the narrative that these protests exposed a power struggle among the elite, said Kate Mallinson, the founder of Prism Political Risk Management in London. “The fact that Tokayev asked the Russians for help is a sign that he doesn’t have the support of the security services.

Nazarbayev voluntarily handed over his last major government post, head of the Security Council, to Tokayev as the situation intensified, state television reported, citing his spokesman Aidos Ukibay on Sunday. Nazarbayev remains in the capital of Nur-Sultan and in contact with Tokayev, Ukibay said earlier on Twitter.

Putin Sends Message to West as His Troops Turn Kazakh Tide

The protests, sparked by a doubling in the price of a popular motor fuel in an oil-producing region in western Kazakhstan, quickly spiraled into nationwide anti-government demonstrations accompanied by widespread looting and violence. Thousands took to the streets and seized government buildings and airports in the country of 19 million, which is as large as western Europe and rich in oil and minerals.

Dozens of protesters and police were killed and hundreds wounded in the clashes, as Tokayev gave a shoot-to-kill command to re-establish order. With the country under an information blackout, and internet and messenger services remaining largely blocked, the death toll is likely vastly underreported. Some videos on social media showed troops firing automatic weapons in Almaty, the largest city, where the president claimed 20,000 “bandits had attacked government buildings. Tokayev has blamed much of the violence on foreign influences.

Russian paratroopers helped to retake Almaty’s airport, according to the Defense Ministry in Moscow, which said 75 aircraft flew its forces to Kazakhstan after Tokayev appealed for aid. Russia placed an officer who led military operations in Syria and Ukraine in charge of the deployment by troops from the CSTO, which also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Tokayev accepted his government’s resignation and removed several top security officials including Massimov on Jan. 5, in the biggest government shakeup since he assumed power. He pledged to stay in Nur-Sultan “whatever happens.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken with Tokayev several times since Thursday, according to a Kremlin statement Saturday. Tokayev said the situation in Kazakhstan was stabilizing and asked for a meeting of CSTO leaders. The alliance will hold a video conference on Jan. 10, the Interfax news service reported Sunday.

Russia has no intention of speaking about the situation in Kazakhstan at upcoming talks with the U.S. in Geneva about NATO expansion, Deputy Foreign Ministry Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax on Sunday.

While Tokayev has said the CSTO deployment will be short term, appealing to the Russians for help could undermine his domestic authority if he is seen as sacrificing Kazakh sovereignty, according to Mallinson.

“It will be hard for Tokayev to stay in power for long without co-opting the Nazarbayev-era elite, Mallinson said. “They have so much wealth that he can’t afford to alienate these structures.

Read more:

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Almarai signs an MoU with the Authority of People with Disabilities to train and employ them.

Almarai Company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Authority of People with
Disabilities to train, qualify and employ persons with disabilities. This came on the sidelines of
the First International Labor Market Conference, organized by the Ministry of Human Resources
and Social Development on December 13 – 14, 2023, at the King Abdulaziz Convention Center
in Riyadh.

The memorandum was signed by the Chief Human Resources Officer of Almarai Company,
Fahad Mohammed Aldrees, and the CEO of the Authority of People with Disabilities, Dr.
Hisham bin Muhammad Al-Haidari.

“This agreement comes within the framework of the company’s social responsibility program, as
Almarai employs more than 500 people with disabilities, which is one of the most suitable work
environments for them.” Fahad Aldrees said. Pointing out that Almarai has the “Silent Line”,
which is one of its production lines that is designated for people with hearing disabilities.

It is worth mentioning that Almarai supports over 300 charity organizations annually across the
kingdom that operate in the field of community development.

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Central Phuket Shopping Center Prepared Surprises This Christmas & New Year 2024

Central Phuket Shopping Center, the luxury lifestyle landmark o Phuket, invites everyone to celebrate Christmas and New Year 2024 in The Great Celebration 2024 Campaign. Joining hands with global partner ‘The Pokémon Company’, Central Phuket bring over Pokémon, the super cute character popular around the world, for all locals and international fans. The special campaign launch presents a procession of cute ‘Pikachu’ alongside with the giant Christmas tree for the first time in Thailand.
This December, Central Phuket prepared many activities for shoppers when visiting Phuket! Experience the “Surprise of the Day” with free Cotton Candy for our little ones, a sweet and fluffy treat, a special gift from Central Phuket. Bring your kids to enjoy this sweet treat every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of December. Don’t miss the Christmas Carol that
everyone loves, little Santas spread freshness by singing together in the Christmas Carol activity. Plus, Christmas Live Music, the festival of joy is back! Celebrate Christmas in a luxurious and classy atmosphere, enjoying the music that will bring us joy. Also, there will be Christmas Troop, Santa Claus is coming to town! The Santa troop will spread happiness throughout Central Phuket. Lastly, Cake Workshop, workshop activity with Chef Sebastien’s IRON CHEF Thailand teaching how to make Christmas Vanilla Cake. A special activity for the Christmas season. Moreover, Central Phuket provides special promotion exclusively for international tourists throughout December 23 – January 24 including:

1) Get Free! Tourist welcome discount package valued up to THB 10,000.
2) Receive THB 100 Gift voucher when spending up to THB 2,500 per receipt.
3) Get to buy ‘Happy Holiday Collections’ special price: Pokémon 2-in-1 pillow blanket, tumbler, travel bag set, and keychain. Visit redemption counter for the price.
4) Exclusive for Grab Users get discount code up to 25% off* when traveling to participating Central Shopping Centers.
5) Receive famous Elephant Pants when spending over THB 5,000 in shopping center.
6) Get Free! H&M THB 100 gift voucher when booking any accommodations in Phuket with Agoda. Terms and conditions apply.

Central Phuket is a home of global luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent. Exclusive for this season, Louis Vuitton launches a pop-up store located at Central Phuket. The design is inspired by the story of Damier or Checkerboard, the brand’s signature pattern. This classic pattern was created by Louis
Vuitton and his son Georges Vuitton in 1888 and has always been part of the design of Maison’s iconic items and concepts. Find clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories for men at the Pop-up Store from Louis Vuitton at Central Phuket, 1st floor, from today until 31 March 2024. And with over 500 renowned fashion brands and lifestyle shops ranging from local to international
well-known brands covering all categories, international shoppers will be able to find what they are looking for in Central Phuket.
Central Phuket is located in the heart of one of the world’s most famous beach cities, Phuket and await to welcome both locals and international visitors this holiday. Also, don’t miss one of the most joyful New Year Count Down events in Phuket city at Central Phuket Shopping Center on December 31, 2023.

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Saudi Fund for Development Provides $100 Million Development Loan for the Rogun Hydropower Project

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Chief Executive Officer, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, signed a new development loan agreement with the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Kahhorzoda Fayziddin Sattor, through which SFD is contributing $100 million USD to fund the Rogun Hydropower Project, a landmark initiative that will enhance energy,
food, and water security, and foster sustainable development in the country. The signing was attended by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Waleed Al-Reshiadan, and the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Akram Karimi, alongside other officials from both sides. SFD’s development loan will help contribute towards a more sustainable and equitable food and water future for Tajikistan, while driving the country’s energy transition and climate resilience. The project aims to contribute to the national energy security and will help advance sustainable
development in the Republic of Tajikistan, by providing the renewable electricity supply to meet local demand and expand electricity production domestically and regionally, producing 3600 MW of energy. The loan agreement will also finance the construction of a 335-meter-tall dam, which will enhance irrigation capabilities and bolster agricultural activities across the country. Additionally, the project will improve flood protection through the construction of four hydraulic
tunnels for diversion and drainage. It will also provide clean and drinkable water to people through desalination, and help advance socio-economic development, by creating both direct and indirect jobs.
Importantly, this project also supports the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); specifically, SDG 2, Zero Hunger, SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy.
On this occasion, the CEO of SFD, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, said: “Today’s signing marks a major milestone in our shared journey towards a more sustainable future. With this landmark development loan, SFD is not just supporting Tajikistan’s energy future, but also its sustainable development and the well-being of its people. The Rogun Hydropower Project is a beacon of
hope for a bright future that is powered by clean, renewable energy. It will propel Tajikistan towards environmental stewardship and prosperity.”

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