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Riots in Kazakhstan: former head of secret service arrested for treason

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The National Security Committee (KNB) announced that its former director, Karim Massimov, 56, was taken into custody on Thursday after an investigation was launched for high treason.

At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had a long telephone conversation to discuss the crisis situation and agreed to keep in touch permanent, the Kremlin announced on Saturday.

Moscow also denounced the comments, qualified as rude, by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who warned on Friday that he would be very difficult for Kazakhstan to obtain the withdrawal of Russian troops once the green light has been granted for an intervention on its territory.

A contingent of Russian troops and other countries allied with Moscow arrived Thursday in Kazakhstan to support the power in place by protecting strategic buildings and supporting the police.

A protest movement that turns into a riot

A soldier on an armored vehicle.

This image provided by Russian television RU-RTR shows a soldier from Kazakhstan in a military vehicle.

Photo: Associated Press

Kazakhstan, the largest country in Central Asia, is shaken by a protest that erupted last Sunday in the provinces before spreading to other cities and especially to Almaty, the economic capital, where the demonstrations turned into chaotic riots and murderous.

The tension persisted on Saturday in Almaty where we heard from time to time warning shots from the police to prevent people from approaching the central square, noted a journalist from theFrance Media Agency.

The car of a 68-year-old pensioner, Leonid Kiselev, was hit by gunshot early in the morning as it passed near official buildings.

The situation was calm, so I got out of my car, said in the tail of a service station Leonid Kiselev, visibly shocked, showing the impact of the projectile.

Former President Nazarbayev speaks

For his part, former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev broke his silence on Saturday to call on the population to support the government and enable it to overcome this crisis and guarantee the integrity of the country, wrote his spokesperson, Aidos Ukibay, on Twitter.

The 81-year-old former leader warned against false information, in allusion to the rumors which circulated in certain Kazakh media on his alleged flight from the country.

This is the first time that the former head of state has spoken since the start of the deadly riots that rock the country.

Burned cars.

Cars set on fire in Almaty after the violence that left at least 18 dead and 748 injured.

Photo: dpa via getty images / ALEXANDER BOGDANOV

Beyond the rise in prices, the anger of the demonstrators is directed against Mr. Nazarbaïev, remained in the shadow of power and whom they accuse of corruption.

He ruled the country from 1989 to 2019 and retains great influence. He is considered to be the mentor of the current president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The latter on Friday authorized the security forces to shoot to kill in order to quell any rebellion and, with the support of Russia, ruled out negotiating with the demonstrators.

Westerners say they are worried

Germany announced on Saturday that it was halting its arms exports to Kazakhstan.

The value of the exported material is low (25 authorizations for an amount of 2.2 million euros in 2021), but the ban imposes itself, told theFrance Media Agency a spokesperson for the German Ministry of the Economy.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron called on Friday for the end of violence and at the detention.

Military vehicles in motion.

Military vehicles patrol the streets of central Almaty.

Photo: Getty Images / ALEXANDR BOGDANOV

Chinese President Xi Jinping praised the strong measures taken by the President of Kazakhstan.

The Kazakh opponent Moukhtar Abliazov, a refugee in France, assured that revolution was on and denounced theoccupation of Kazakhstan by the forces of Moscow.

Almaty airport has said it will remain closed at least until Sunday.

The authorities claimed that 26 armed criminals had been killed and more than a thousand demonstrators injured, the police also reporting 18 killed and 748 injured in their ranks. More than 4,000 people have been arrested.

These figures could not be independently verified.

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