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Afghan War Veterans Oppose Kazakh Participation In ISAF

Kazakh troops in an amphibious vehicle while crossing the Ili river during military exercises outside Almaty in August 2010
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh veterans of the Soviet-era war in Afghanistan are protesting a parliament decision to send troops to serve with the NATO-led international force in Afghanistan (ISAF), RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The statement, issued by Kazakhstan's Coordination Council of Public Organizations uniting veterans of the war in Afghanistan, says that "sending even one single Kazakh soldier to Afghanistan would propel our young Republic into a large regional military conflict and pose a threat to the security of our citizens both inside and outside Kazakhstan. That would split Kazakhstan's Islamic community and destabilize interethnic and interreligious harmony within the country."

The veterans also demand the immediate dissolution of the Kazakh parliament for "its decision to send a Kazakh military contingent to Afghanistan," and they call on all Kazakh citizens to support them.

On May 18, the Mazhilis, the lower chamber of parliament, ratified Kazakhstan's agreement with NATO on participating in ISAF.

Astana is offering as many as four servicemen variously described as being "officers" or "medics."

The agreement will come into force after it is approved by the the upper house, the Senate, and signed by President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

Read more in Russian here