Kazakhstan detains former national security chief suspected of treason

Karim Massimov, Chairman of the National Security Council of Kazakhstan meets with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan at Zhongnanhai in Beijing, China, April 8, 2019. Kenzaburo Fukuhara / Pool via REUTERS

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ALMATY, January 8 (Reuters) – Kazakh authorities have arrested Karim Massimov, the former head of the national security committee on suspicion of treason, the security committee said on Saturday.

Massimov, who was fired this week as protests raged in the Central Asian country, was arrested along with several other officials, the National Security Committee said in a statement. He did not name them and did not provide further details.

Reuters could not immediately contact Massimov.

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Dozens of people have died and public buildings across Kazakhstan have been ransacked and set on fire in the worst violence suffered by the former Soviet republic in 30 years of independence.

After several days of violence, security forces appeared to have recovered the streets of Kazakhstan’s main city on Friday. Russia-backed President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said he ordered his troops to shoot to kill to quell a nationwide uprising.

At Tokayev’s invitation, a Russian-led military alliance was deployed at a time of high tension in East-West relations. Russia and the United States are preparing to discuss the Ukraine crisis next week.

Massimov is widely regarded as a close ally of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He was twice prime minister and was also head of the presidential administration under Nazarbayev.

Nazarbayev, 81, was the longest-serving ruler of a former Soviet state until he handed over the presidency to Tokayev in 2019. His family is widely believed to have retained their influence in Nour-Sultan, the built capital for this purpose which bears his name. .

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Report by Olzhas Asezov; Written by Andrey Ostroukh and Robin Paxton; Editing by Lincoln Feast and William Mallard

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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