Kazakhstani Troops Caught Wearing Unsanctioned Blue U.N. Peacekeeping Helmets During Crackdown

Authorities in Kazakhstan have drawn new criticism over their crackdown on anti-government protesters after pictures emerged showing members of the country's security forces wearing blue helmets emblazoned with the acronym "UN." The United Nations has since expressed concern over the use of personnel wearing these helmets, who are assigned to U.N.-backed Kazakhstani peacekeeping unit, for internal security missions. U.N. and Kazakhstani officials have both confirmed that the international body has not sanctioned any peacekeeping mission in the country, though a Russian-led security bloc has been in the process of sending thousands of troops to this Central Asian country ostensibly for that purpose.

Vladimir Tretyakov, a photographer working for Kazakh news outlet Novosti Kazakhstana, took the photographs of members of this dedicated peacekeeping force, known as the Kazakhstan Battalion (KAZBAT), manning checkpoints in the country's largest city of Almaty on Jan. 6, 2022. That was a day after the largest protests in years against Kazakhstan's dictatorial regime, triggered by a hike in state-subsidized fuel prices and further exacerbated by other long-standing grievances, morphed into major civil unrest across the country.