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Kazakhstan arrests former security chief, president in consultation with Putin According to Reuters


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Karim Massimov, Chairman of Kazakhstan’s National Security Council meets with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan in Zhongnanhai, Beijing, China April 8, 2019. Kenzaburo Fukuhara / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

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By Olzhas Auyezov and Tamara Vaal

ALMATY (Reuters) – Kazakhstan’s former intelligence chief has been arrested on suspicion of treason, the state security agency said on Saturday, as the former Soviet republic is rocked by unrest. worst in 30 years.

Karim Massimov’s detention was announced by the National Security Committee he heads until he was sacked by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev this week as violent protests swept through the Central Asian nation.

Tokayev told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a “long” phone call that the country’s situation was stabilizing, the Kremlin said.

It said Putin supported a proposal from Tokayev for a call to convene a video meeting of leaders from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), under the auspices of Russia and four countries. Other former Soviet republics sent troops to Kazakhstan to help restore order.

Dozens of people have died, thousands have been detained and public buildings across Kazakhstan have been set ablaze over the past week in the worst riots to hit the major oil and uranium producer since… The country became independent in the early 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Tokayev ordered his troops to shoot to end what he called attacks by bandits and terrorists.

He said Friday that the state was “sleeping” as instigators prepared to launch attacks on the largest city, Almaty, and across the country. Massimov’s arrest shows that actions against those believed to be responsible are underway.

In addition to leading the intelligence agency that replaced the Soviet-era KGB, Massimov is a two-time former prime minister who worked closely with former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled the country for three decades until his handover. presidential service for Tokayev in 2019.

Protests across the country began as a response to rising fuel prices but have turned into a widespread movement against the Russian-backed government of Tokayev and Nazarbayev, 81, whose family is said to retain influence in the capital, Nur-Sultan. named after him.

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After days of violence, security forces appeared to have regained control of the streets in Kazakhstan’s main city of Almaty on Friday.

Some businesses and gas stations began reopening on Saturday in the city of about 2 million as security forces patrolled the streets. Gunfire can still be heard around the main square of the city from time to time.

The city’s deputy mayor was quoted by Russia’s RIA news agency as saying that operations against the city by “terrorists and bandits” were still underway and people were advised to stay at home.

The Home Office says more than 4,400 people have been detained since the unrest began. Tokayev announced that a day of national mourning would take place on Monday in memory of those killed during the unrest.

The deployment of the Russian-led military alliance CSTO in Kazakhstan at Tokayev’s invitation comes at a tense time in East-West relations as Russia and the US prepare for next week’s talks on the crisis. Ukraine.

Moscow has deployed a large number of troops near the border with Ukraine despite rejecting US suggestions that it is planning to invade the country, saying it wants assurances that NATO will stop expanding. eastward.

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