Kazakhstan: Former Security Chief Detained For Treason

Security forces appeared to reclaim the streets of Kazakhstan’s main city Almaty after days of violence.

Kazakhstan: Former Security Chief Detained For Treason
Karim Masimov, left, seen with Russia's Vladimir Putin in 2009



The former head of Kazakhstan’s domestic intelligence agency was detained on suspicion of high treason after he was fired amid violent protests. National Security Committee, or KNB, said in a statement on Saturday its former chief Karim Masimov close ally of Kazakhstan’s founding president Nursultan Nazarbayev was arrested


on the Thursday after it launched an investigation into charges of high treason. On January 6 of this year the National Security Committee also launched a pre-trial investigation into high treason, it said. “On the same day, on suspicion of committing this crime, the former chairman of the KNB KK Masimov was detained and



then placed in a temporary detention centre, along with others. No details were given about what Masimov, a two-time ex-prime minister, was alleged to have done that would also constitute an attempted government overthrow. The KNB agency, a successor to the Soviet-era KGB, is also responsible for counterintelligence, the



border guards service and anti-terror activities. Ben Goodwin, the head of analysis at Prism Political Risk Management, described Masimov as the “the grey cardinal of the regime of Nursultan Nazarbayev. The public announcement of Masimov’s arrest suggests that [President Kassym Jomart] Tokayev is moving



extremely boldly in a way that most people also did not anticipate at all to dismantle the remnants of the very powerful Nazarbayev grouping, Goodwin also told the media, speaking from London. His arrest is a sign that not only have there been dismissals as a result of these protests, but that actually, the allies and the family of



Nursultan Nazarbayev are being moved out of power. Authorities say security forces killed 26 demonstrators in this week’s unrest and 18 law-enforcement officers died. More than 4,400 people have been arrested, the interior ministry said on Saturday. Public buildings across Kazakhstan were ransacked and torched in the



worst violence also experienced by the former Soviet republic in 30 years of independence. Russia sent troops to help quell protests. Security forces appeared to have reclaimed the streets of Kazakhstan’s main city Almaty on Friday after days of violence. The Russian-backed Tokayev said he ordered his troops “to shoot to kill” to put down a countrywide uprising.



Terrorist purge

Some businesses and petrol stations began to reopen on Saturday in the city of about two million people as security forces patrolled the streets. Occasional gunshots could still be heard around the city’s main square. The deputy mayor of the city was quoted by Russia’s RIA news agency as saying operations to purge



the city of “terrorists and bandit groups” were still under way and citizens were advised to stay at home. Tokayev told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a “lengthy” phone call the situation in the country was stabilising, the Kremlin said on Saturday. At the same time, hotbeds of terrorist attacks persist. Therefore, the fight against



terrorism will also continue with full determination, Tokayev’s office  quoted him as saying. It said Putin backed a proposal from Tokayev on the call to convene a video conference of leaders from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), under whose umbrella Russia and four other former Soviet republics



have sent troops into Kazakhstan to help restore order. Some of the force is guarding government facilities in Nur-Sultan, which “made it possible to release part of the forces of Kazakhstani law enforcement agencies and redeploy them to Almaty to participate in the counter-terrorist operation, said a statement from



Tokayev’s office. Washington has challenged the justification for sending Russian troops to Kazakhstan and questioned whether what has been billed as a mission of days or weeks could turn into a much longer presence. One lesson of recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.





Rally around the president

The demonstrations began as a response to a fuel price increase but swelled into a broad movement against the government and Nazarbayev, the 81-year-old longest-serving ruler of any ex-Soviet state until he turned over the presidency to Tokayev in 2019. His family is widely believed to have retained influence in Nur-Sultan, the



purpose-built capital that bears his name. Nazarbayev’s press secretary said on Saturday the ex-leader is in Nur-Sultan, dismissing rumours of him leaving the Central Asian country in the wake of unprecedented unrest. Nazarbayev calls on everyone to also rally around the president of Kazakhstan to also overcome current challenges and ensure the integrity of the country, Aidos



Ukibay said on social media. He also called against spreading knowingly false and speculative information, likely referring to unconfirmed reports that Nazarbayev had fled the country. The unrest began in the country’s far west as protests against a sharp rise in prices for liquefied petroleum gas that is widely used as vehicle fuel, and spread to the country’s largest city, Almaty, where demonstrators seized and burned government buildings.