MOSCOW (Reuters) – Peacekeepers from a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states will be sent to Kazakhstan to help stabilise the country following mass protests, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Facebook on Thursday.
He said the decision to deploy peacekeepers for a limited period had been taken in response to an appeal from Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and “in view of the threat to the national security and sovereignty of the Republic of Kazakhstan caused, inter alia, by outside interference”.
Tokayev had earlier asked for help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Pashinyan did not say how many peacekeepers would be sent, or when they would arrive.
Around Kazakhstan – five times the size of France with a population of nearly 19 million – protests killed eight police and national guard troops on Tuesday and Wednesday, Russia’s state-owned Sputnik agency quoted the Kazakh interior ministry as saying.
Initially angered by a fuel price rise, protesters have been storming buildings and chanting against Tokayev’s predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev who retained wide power despite quitting in 2019 after a nearly three-decade rule.
Interfax news agency quoted Leonid Kalashnikov, head of a Russian parliamentary committee that deals with relations with the Commonwealth of Independent States, as saying the peacekeepers would stay “until the situation stabilises”.
(Reporting by Mark Trevelyan and Maxim Rodionov; Editing by Leslie Adler and Alistair Bell)