Kazakhstan’s former police chief has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit atrocities, while the government seeks to restore peace in the wake of violent protests that have destroyed government buildings and killed scores of people in the former Soviet Union.
Karim Massimov’s January 6 arrest was announced on Saturday by the KNB, the National Security Committee which he chaired until Wednesday when he was fired by the President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
The move shows that street protests, which began as a result of rising fuel prices, sparked a heated debate between them. Tokayev and his successor Nursultan Nazarbayev, the country’s first president after the Soviet Union.
The protests were peaceful but suddenly changed Wednesday when armed men stormed the security forces and destroyed government buildings in Almaty. On Friday, Tokayev said 20,000 “criminals” had taken part in the attack.
Massimov, a former prime minister, was a close ally of Nazarbayev, who resigned in 2019 but remained in power at Kazakh Security Council until Wednesday, when Tokayev ousted him from office.
“It is clear that Tokayev realized that Massimov was a major threat to his rule as KNB units would not take advice from Tokayev but only Nazarbayev and Massimov. This could not have happened,” said Simon Glancy, founder of Kazakhstan’s Strategic Solutions risk management company. and following the rules.
“Massimov is a smart and careful user. In my opinion, he was probably set up and suspended as part of the modern war effort,” he said.
KNB, it said, opened a terrorist investigation on January 6, and arrested Massimov and others “on suspicion of heresy”, according to Interfax.
Glancy said the first secret about Massimov’s arrest was “just to prove that we are far away and know the whole picture”.
Tokayev, Nazarbayev’s aide, was seen as a short-lived man, with the former president overseeing security forces and his role as “the father of the country”.
Massimov was, in fact, the ruler of the country and rumors spread that he was in charge of the Tokayev faction. That changed on Wednesday when Tokayev took over the security services.
KNB says Massimov’s deputy Samat Arish, Nazarbayev’s nephew, has remained in office.
Nazarbayev and his close relatives have not been seen since the end of December and rumors have been circulating that they have fled the country. On Saturday, his secretary was journalist Aidos Ukibay he said that the former president was in Kazakhstan and met with Tokayev.