Soldiers fire at protesters on main square of Kazakhstan’s largest city, Russia paratroopers arrive in Kazakhstan

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There were reports on Thursday of soldiers firing at protesters and cars on the main square of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry denied a media report on Thursday that the entry of foreigners into the country had been suspended, the Sputnik news agency quoted it as saying.

Earlier, the RIA news agency had quoted the Kazakh embassy in Uzbekistan as saying that Kazakhstan had temporarily suspended entry for foreigners amid widespread protests

Kazakhstan has been hit by protests this week. Police said they had killed dozens of rioters in the main city Almaty. State television said 13 members of the security forces had died.

Russia said on Thursday it would consult with Kazakhstan and other allies on possible further moves to support a “counter-terrorist” operation there and unblock critical infrastructure.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement: “We regard the recent events in a friendly country as an attempt, inspired from the outside, to undermine the security and integrity of the state by force, using trained and organized armed formations.”

Russia has already sent paratroopers to Kazakhstan as part of a peacekeeping force after the Central Asian country was hit by the biggest wave of unrest there since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

The collective peacekeeping forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have been sent to Kazakhstan at the request of the Kazakh president Tokayev amid a wave of unrest in the country. The advanced units from the Russian contingent have already begun to fulfill their tasks.

According to the organization, the peacekeeping forces included subdivisions of the Armed Forces of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Police in Kazakhstan have detained about 2,000 people in the country’s biggest city Almaty, TASS news agency quoted the interior ministry as saying on Thursday.

Police earlier said they had “eliminated” dozens of rioters after the country was hit by its worst unrest since gaining independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

The European Union called on Russia on Thursday to respect Kazakhstan’s sovereignty and independence as Russia sends in paratroopers to quell an uprising after deadly violence spread across the former Soviet republic.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive, also urged restraint on all sides.

“The violence must be stopped. We are also calling for restraint from all parties and a peaceful resolution of the situation. Now obviously, the EU is ready and willing to support a dialogue in the country,” an EU spokesperson said. 

Photo – A still image taken from a handout video made available by the Russian Defence Ministry’s press service shows Russian servicemen boarding a military aircraft on their way to Kazakhstan, at an airfield outside Moscow, Russia, 06 January 2022. EPA-EFE/RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE HANDOUT

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