Russia sent paratroopers into Kazakhstan on Thursday to help put down a countrywide uprising after deadly violence spread across the tightly controlled former Soviet state.
Police said they had killed dozens of rioters in the Central Asian country’s main city Almaty. State television said 13 members of the security forces had died, including two found decapitated.
A presidential residence and the mayor’s office in the city were both ablaze, Reuters journalists said. By Thursday afternoon, the city’s airport, seized earlier by protesters, was under firm control of military personnel. Burnt out cars littered the streets.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has appealed for an end to the violence, calling on the parties involved to resolve the situation with respect for the law and human rights.
According to the ministry, there are currently about 30 Czech citizens in the country.
The uprising, which began as protests in the west of the country against a New Year’s Day fuel price hike, had swelled dramatically on Wednesday, when protesters stormed and torched public buildings in Almaty and other cities.
The swift arrival of Russian troops demonstrated the Kremlin’s strategy of rapidly deploying force to safeguard its sphere of influence in the ex-Soviet Union.
Since late 2020, Russia has shored up the leader of Belarus in the face of a popular uprising, halted a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and, to the alarm of the West, massed again near Ukraine, which Russia invaded eight years ago.
Western countries have called for calm. Neighbour China called the events an internal matter for Kazakhstan.