Protesters in Kazakhstan fought deadly street battles with police, stormed government buildings and pulled down a statue of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, on Wednesday in what was essentially an overthrow of the country’s unloved elite.
Unconfirmed reports also said that Russian military planes had landed in Kazakhstan to rescue Mr Nazarbayev, 81, an ally of Vladimir Putin and self-styled Father of the Nation, who Russian media said needed to leave the country for “urgent medical treatment”.
Analysts said several private jets had taken off from Nur-Sultan, the capital, flying ministers and oligarchs to safety in Europe.
The internal affairs ministry said that eight security personnel had been killed and more than 300 injured in the unrest, without giving details of civilian casualties.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of former Soviet states, said that it would send peacekeeping troops as a temporary “stabilising” measure. The Kazakh leadership had requested assistance in overcoming “the terrorist threat”.