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Kazakhstan’s former head of national security intelligence held for treason



Kazakhstan’s former head of national security intelligence has been arrested on suspicion of treason after he was fired following massive unrest in the country.

The National Security Committee, or KNB, in a statement on Saturday said that its former chief Karim Masimov – who was fired earlier this week—was detained, along with several other officials.

It refused to provide any further details on the nature of offences committed by Masimov.

Masimov is widely viewed as a close ally of former president and officially designated leader of the nation Nursultan Nazarbayev. He has twice been prime minister and has also served as head of the presidential administration under Nazarbayev.

Also read | Kazakhstan unrest: What sparked the protests and how they will affect global geopolitics

KNB, a successor to the Soviet-era KGB, is responsible for counterintelligence, the border guards service and anti-terror activities.

Meanwhile, 26 demonstrators were killed in this week’s protest and 18 law enforcement officers have died. More than 4,400 people have been arrested, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Saturday.

Also read | Putin, Kazakh leader Tokayev discuss measures to ‘restore order’ in Kazakhstan

Public buildings across Kazakhstan were ransacked and torched in the worst violence experienced by the former Soviet republic in 30 years of independence. Russian-backed Collective Security Treaty Organisation sent troops to quell protests following request from Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Security forces appeared to have reclaimed the streets of Kazakhstan’s main city Almaty on Friday after days of violence. The Russian-backed Tokayev said he ordered his troops “to shoot to kill” to put down a countrywide uprising.

The protests in Kazakhstan began in response to fuel hikes but grew to reflect discontent at the government and Nazarbayev, who passed the baton to his successor Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in 2019 and is still believed to hold immense influence in the country.

(With inputs from agencies)

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