The former head of the Kazakhstani secret service was arrested for treason, after being sacked following the riots that rocked the country where the situation remained very tense on Saturday.
The National Security Committee (KNB) announced that its former director, Karim Massimov, 56, had been taken into custody on Thursday after the launch of an investigation for “high treason”.
At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Poutine and his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokaïev had a “long” telephone conversation to discuss the crisis situation and agreed to stay in “permanent” contact, the Kremlin announced on Saturday.
Moscow also denounced the comments, described as “rude”, by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had warned on Friday that it would be “very difficult” for Kazakhstan to obtain the withdrawal of Russian troops once the fire was fired. green 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.
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 an AFP journalist.
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,” Leonid Kiselev said in a gas station queue, visibly shocked, showing the impact of the projectile.
– “fake news” –
For his part, ex-Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev broke his silence on Saturday to call on the population to support the government and “allow it to overcome this crisis and guarantee the country’s integrity,” his spokesperson wrote. , Aidos Ukibay, on Twitter.
The 81-year-old former leader warned of “false information”, referring to rumors circulating in some Kazakh media about 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.
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 authorized the security forces on Friday to “shoot to kill” in order to quell any rebellion and, with the support of Russia, ruled out negotiating with the demonstrators.
– more than 4,000 people arrested –
The unrest shaking this country of 19 million inhabitants worries Westerners.
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 “is necessary”, told AFP a spokesman for the German ministry of ‘Economy.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron called on Friday for “an end to violence” and “restraint”.
Chinese President Xi Jinping praised the “strong measures” taken by the Kazakh president.
The Kazakh opponent Mukhtar Abliazov, a refugee in France, assured that a “revolution” was underway and denounced the “occupation” 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 protesters injured, the police also reporting 18 killed and 748 wounded in their ranks. More than 4,000 people have been arrested.
These figures could not be independently verified.