The National Security Committee of Kazakhstan informed about the detention of Karym Masymov, who until recently headed the institution. The official was charged with high treason.
On Wednesday, Masimov – who is believed to be the man of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev – was removed from the post of intelligence chief. Nazarbayev resigned as president in 2019, after almost 30 years in office, but he was still perceived as a figure shaping the country’s policy from behind the scenes, including by highly placed, trusted people – like Masymov.
At least dozens of people were killed in protests and clashes with the security forces that began in early January. Authorities refer to “terrorists” and the services are ordered to shoot without warning anyone who does not obey orders. Russian security forces are already in place. These are the largest anti-government riots in Kazakhstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union and independence.
Attacks on journalists in Kazakhstan
A journalist from the Russian independent television Dozhd ‘reported that he had been shot in Almaty. The incident took place near the morgue with a line of people trying to identify those killed during the protests of relatives.
Russian journalist Vasily Polonsky was shot in the leg after noticing that he was filming the arrest of a man by unknown persons. Dożd ‘notes that the armed men guarding the morgue who opened fire were not identified as service officers.
Kazakhstan’s interior ministry has so far detained over four thousand protesters. The ministry reports that 26 demonstrators and 18 security forces were killed as a result of the clashes. However, these data cannot be verified and it is very possible that the real number of victims is much higher. The Internet in the country is blocked, which makes it difficult to transmit information.
Kazakhstan has closed its borders to foreigners and journalists trying to get there report that they are not passed through the border.
Protests in Kazakhstan
Protests in Kazakhstan began on January 2 in the oil city of Zhangaözen after authorities raised the price of liquefied natural gas, which is the country’s most popular car fuel. Initially, the protesters only demanded a reduction in the price of the raw material. On January 4, the protests intensified and led to clashes with the police. The protesters demanded the resignation of the government and the resignation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev from the policy.
On January 5, President Kasym-Żamart Tokayev dismissed the government. First, a state of emergency was declared in individual cities, and then throughout the country. In Nur-Sultan [do 2019 roku miasto nazywało się Astana – red.], Almaty and Mangystau region from 23:00 to 7:00 there is a curfew.
During the clashes, the security forces used light and noise grenades as well as tear gas, and opened fire on demonstrators. Protesters attacked policemen and set cars on fire. Some of the security forces in some cities sided with the protesters.
Russian troops in Kazakhstan
The Kazakh law enforcement services have been ordered to shoot anyone who does not comply with the officers’ calls, especially those who are armed. The Kazakh Ministry of the Interior announced the detention of nearly 4,500 demonstrators, including foreigners.
At the request of President Kasym-Żomart Tokayev, soldiers from allied states associated in the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization flew to Kazakhstan. The secretariat of the organization announced that the contingent will amount to about 2,500 people. However, according to the Russian media, there are already over 2,600 soldiers from the ODKB countries in Kazakhstan. The Interfax agency wrote that Russia was continuing to deploy troops to Kazakhstan, using seventy Il-76 and five An-124 aircraft.
According to Interfax, citing local television, Russian armored vehicles began to patrol the streets of the city of Baikonur, with a space center leased by Russia.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington said the Kazakh authorities are able to establish peace on their own “with respect for protesters’ rights and law and order,” so it remains “unclear” why they would need outside help. He emphasized that recent history proves that once Russian troops have come to the territory of another country, it is difficult to force them to return to their country. NATO had previously expressed its concern about the situation.