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A protestor attacks a Kyrgyz police officer during clashes near the main government buildings in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Wednesday, April 7, 2010.Ivan Sekretarev

Russia sent troops to Kyrgyzstan on Thursday to protect Russian citizens, including at its military base, after self-proclaimed new leaders took power in the Central Asian nation.

President Dmitry Medvedev told the leader of neighbouring Kazakhstan that Russia was sending "a group of Russian servicemen" to Kyrgyzstan, his office said in a statement.

Russia's top general said Mr. Medvedev had ordered paratroopers to be sent to protect personnel at Russia's Kant air base in the ex-Soviet republic, Russian news agencies reported.

"The President took the decision to send two companies of paratroopers," state-run agencies quoted armed forces chief of staff General Nikolai Makarov as saying.

"Around 150 [servicemen]have arrived at Kant," he said.

The Kremlin statement said the troops would provide security for "the families of Russian citizens" in Kyrgyzstan, as well as the Russian Embassy and other diplomatic facilities.

It did not say how many were being sent or when.

Meanwhile, ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev told Reuters on Thursday he did not want to believe Russia was behind the protests that chased him from power.

"I can't say that Russia is behind this," said Mr. Bakiyev, who also said he was in southern Kyrgyzstan. "I don't want to say that - I just don't want to believe it."

Mr. Bakiyev also said he had no plans to step down but offered to talk to the opposition leaders who have claimed control of Kyrgyzstan after Central Asia's bloodiest unrest in five years.

Kyrgyz opposition leaders said on Thursday they had taken control of power after clashes between security forces and protesters that left at least 75 people dead.

An leading opposition figure said Russia played a role in the events in the nation of 5.3 million, where the United States leases an air base to support operations in Afghanistan.