Kazakhstan’s former intelligence head has been detained on charges of treason, according to the national security service, as the former Soviet republic tightens down on a wave of nationwide protests.
Karim Massimov’s arrest was reported by the National Security Committee, which he led until he was sacked by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday, following a wave of violent demonstrations across the Central Asian country.
According to Tokayev’s office, he told Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone that the situation was improving.
“At the same time, hotbeds of terrorist attacks persist. Therefore, the fight against terrorism will continue with full determination,” he was cited as saying.
The Kremlin said Putin supported Tokayev’s plan to organize a video conference of leaders from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), under whose auspices Russia and four other former Soviet republics had dispatched soldiers to assist restore order in Kazakhstan. It was unclear when this might happen.
Hundreds of people have been killed, others have been jailed, and public buildings have been set on fire across Kazakhstan in the worst unrest seen in the oil and uranium exporter since it gained independence in the early 1990s when the Soviet Union disintegrated.
Tokayev has instructed his forces to shoot in order to put an end to what he calls bandit terrorist acts.
He said on Friday that the state had “slept through” instigators’ plans to launch assaults on Almaty and other cities around the nation. Massimov’s arrest showed that action was being taken against those deemed guilty.
Massimov was twice prime minister and worked closely with former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the country’s ruler for three decades until he handed over the office to Tokayev in 2019.
There were no specifics about the treason accusations. Other officials were held, according to the security service, although they were not named.