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Kazakhstan detains former national security chief on suspicion of treason

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

Massimov could not be contacted immediately.

Dozens have died and public buildings across
Kazakhstan have been ransacked and torched in the worst violence experienced by
the former Soviet republic in 30 years of independence.

After several days of violence, security
forces appeared to have reclaimed the streets of Kazakhstan’s main city by
Friday. The Russian-backed president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, said he had ordered
his troops to shoot to kill to put down a countrywide uprising.

At Tokayev’s invitation, a Russia-led military
alliance has been deployed at a time of high tension in East-West relations.
Russia and the United States are gearing up for talks next week on the Ukraine
crisis.

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

Nazarbayev, 81, was the longest-serving ruler
of an ex-Soviet state until he turned over the presidency to Tokayev in 2019.
His family is widely believed to have retained influence in Nur-Sultan, the
purpose-built capital that bears his name.

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