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Former head of National Intelligence detained for ‘treason’

The former head of Kazakhstan’s national security intelligence has been arrested on suspicion of treason after being fired following massive unrest in the country. The National Security Committee, or KNB, announced on Saturday that its former chief Karim Masimov – who was fired earlier this week – has been detained. There is no further information provided by the government regarding the nature of Masimov’s offenses.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, the former president and officially designated leader of Kazakhstan, is regarded as Masimov’s close ally. He served twice as prime minister and as head of the presidential administration under Nazarbayev. Known as the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, the KNB is responsible for counterintelligence, border guards, and anti-terrorist activities.

During this week’s protest, 26 demonstrators and 18 law enforcement officers were killed. Over 4,400 people have been arrested, the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced on Saturday. In the most severe act of violence Kazakhstan has experienced since independence 30 years ago, public buildings were ransacked and torched across the country. The Russian-backed Collective Security Treaty Organisation sent troops to quell the protests at the request of Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Kazakhstan’s main city Almaty appeared to be reclaimed by security forces on Friday following days of violence. Russian-backed Tokayev has claimed to have ordered his troops to ‘shoot to kill’ in response to a countrywide uprising. Kazakhstan’s protests erupted in response to fuel prices, but soon grew to reflect discontent with the government and Nazarbayev, who handed the country’s presidency to his successor Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in 2019 and remains influential.


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