Kazakhstan unrest: Putin sends troops to quash riots as 18 killed with 3 beheadings

Kazakhstan’s officials have alleged that “foreign terrorists” caused violence in the country. The violence began as a protest against a fuel price hike on New Years Day

Protesters clash with police officers in Aktobe, Kazakhstan (

Image: via REUTERS)

Russian paratroopers have invaded neighboring Kazakhstan to quell riots that left hundreds dead and over 1,000 injured.

Gunshots could be heard within hours of their arrival as unidentified soldiers opened fire on cars and protesters.

In the capital, Almaty, morgues are filling, buildings have been set alight and Russian sources say 18 police officers were killed and three of them were beheaded.

Kazakh officials blame “foreign terrorists” for the worst violence seen there since the end of the USSR in 1991. But the opposition to the tough government seems to have come from local sources.

Burned-out cars are littered the streets of Almaty and protesters with batons and shields face the police.

A burnt out car in front of the mayor’s office building in Almaty
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Image:

REUTERS)

More than 2,200 people were arrested. There are huge queues for gasoline, residents are struggling to buy groceries, and the internet is down so people cannot access cash.

Tonight, amid violence across the Central Asian Republic, there were allegations that foreigners were denied entry.

The Russians arrived at the invitation of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as part of a “peacekeeping” mission from neighboring countries.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin
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Image:

RIA NOVOSTI / AFP via Getty Images)

Moscow fears consequences that could trigger violence in Russia.

The violence began on New Years Day after the government raised fuel prices.

On Wednesday demonstrators set fire to public buildings and shouted slogans against ex-President Nazarbayev.

Foreign Minister Liz Truss said: “We condemn the violence and will coordinate with our allies on further steps.”

A Foreign Office spokesman added: “Britain has close ties with Kazakhstan and it is important that its sovereignty is respected.”

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

Analysis by Chris Hughes

Vladimir Putin’s dramatic intervention in Kazakhstan could mean a breather for Ukraine, which is also facing an invasion by its troops.

Just 24 hours ago, the world was waiting to see if he would beat his pro-western neighbor after weeks of tension.

But now he has to act in the east to help his friends there, and his desperation is shown in his devastating use of force.

Former President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

Moscow fears another pro-Western uprising on its doorstep.

And if the revolt in the former Soviet state gains momentum, the Russians could get their own ideas.

And that is exactly what Putin fears most.

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