In line with a assertion from Kazakhstan’s Nationwide Safety Committee (KNB), the nation’s intelligence and safety service, on January 8 its former head, Karim Massimov, was arrested on January 6 on expenses of treason.
Massimov had led the highly effective group till his dismissal on January 5.
As Paolo Sorbello defined earlier this week: “Massimov, like his deputy Samat Abish (who was fired on January 4), is a loyalist of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who dominated the nation for 29 years till 2019 and hand-picked Tokayev to be his successor.”
Kazakhstan’s current turmoil is a fancy tapestry, the threads tangled and obscured. Efforts to distill the occasions right into a neat narrative are unimaginable and doubtlessly damaging. However, we should make an effort to grasp what we all know now, whereas permitting room for the good many unknowns.
Massimov’s arrest on treason expenses provides to the prevailing complexity, however could possibly clarify the dramatic shifts of the pasts week.
Peaceable protests that started in western Kazakhstan’s oil cities over a sudden hike in gasoline costs on January 2 unfold to the remainder of Kazakhstan, together with to its largest metropolis, Almaty. Because the protests continued, the frustrations and grievances aired by protesters additionally grew. This was not in and of itself stunning. As the information (from January 1, 2018 to August 31, 2020) compiled within the Oxus Society’s Central Asia Protest Tracker demonstrates, Kazakhstan has skilled probably the most protests within the area lately about all kinds of points. Importantly, most of these protests had been both ignored or managed by the authorities with arrests and harassment of protesters; none erupted into riots, none concerned burned buildings or automobiles.
So what occurred in Almaty? Though most stays unclear, what is evident is that there have been numerous teams engaged, starting from the standard peaceable protestors to what some have described as “marauders.” In between there’s the murky space of protestors attacked by police and preventing again, others fleeing, and stories of suspicious new teams arriving within the chaos.
Each media and the Kazakh authorities’s efforts to simplify the occasions have elicited justified frustration from Kazakhs on-line.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev blamed gangsters and terrorists in an English-language Twitter thread, a few of which was later deleted or eliminated (together with a tweet figuring out 20,000 terrorists as accountable and one other stating “we should kill them”). That assertion got here in tandem with an order for safety forces to “shoot to kill with out warning.” Human Rights Watch urged the federal government to cancel that order, stating that the authorities “ought to do their utmost to guard human life and may solely use pressure, particularly deadly pressure, as a final resort.”
“Assemblies are sometimes various gatherings, and individuals don’t lose their particular person rights just because some are behaving violently,” Human Rights Watch additionally famous. Their report supplies an in depth timeline of occasions.
A probable actuality is that beneath the swell of protests within the streets, Kazakhstan’s opaque elite political circles made their strikes: Massimov’s arrest on treason expenses means that no matter powerplay he was part of has failed (Eurasianet has extra on this). What transpired is just not absolutely understood but, and that’s one of many issues when politics happens at midnight fairly than on the poll field.