Kazakh regime comes to an end in “revolution”, dissident leader says

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Paris (AFP) – The regime that has ruled Kazakhstan since the fall of the Soviet Union is coming to an end in a popular revolution where people have united for the first time to express their anger, a France-based opposition leader said on Thursday.

Mukhtar Ablyazov, former energy minister and bank chairman wanted in his home country on various charges, also called in an AFP interview a Russian-led military intervention an “occupation” and urged them Kazakhs to stand up to foreign forces.

Kazakhstan, often considered the most stable state in Central Asia under its first post-Soviet president Nursultan Nazarbayev and his successor Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has been torn apart by its most serious protests which have left dozens dead and hundreds of inmates.

“I think the regime is at an end. Now it’s only a question of how long,” Ablyazov, who heads the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (QDT) party, told AFP and urged the protests. via its social networks. .

“Literally in three days a revolution has taken place, and it’s really a revolution in public consciousness … and people have understood that they are not weak,” he added.

After years of discontent with economic problems, “the pent-up frustration has exploded. The time has come and everything has exploded.”

He said if the situation meant that “no one can say” how long the current regime will survive, “I think it has at most a year left, maybe a little more. But maybe in two. weeks, everything changes, nobody knows. “

“Get rid of the diet”

Referring to images of downed Nazarbayev statues as well as Tokayev’s decision to sack his cabinet, Ablyazov said that “people now believe that if they unite they can bring down statues and force the government to resign “.

Nazarbayev handed over the presidency to Tokayev in 2019, but he is still believed to have immense influence thanks to his title as head of the nation.

Amid uncertainty over the whereabouts of the former strongman, Ablyazov said he received information that Nazarbayev and his immediate family fled to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi after storming his home in Kazakhstan’s main city, Almaty.

But it was not possible to independently verify the claim.

Ablyazov, who also told AFP he wanted to meet President Emmanuel Macron, is an extremely controversial figure whom Kazakhstan has tried and sentenced in absentia for murder and embezzlement.

He is also wanted in Russia and spent time in detention in France before France’s highest administrative authority blocked his extradition to Russia in 2016, ruling that the request was politically motivated. He now lives in Paris after obtaining refugee status in France.

Ablyazov, who ran one of Kazakhstan’s biggest banks from 2005 to 2009, said he wanted to be the country’s prime minister in a new parliamentary system where there would be no president.

“The provisional government which overthrows Nursultan Nazarbayev’s regime will be led by me for six months before free elections,” he said.

He also urged Western countries to consider sanctions against Kazakh leaders, noting that its elite were known to have “a lot of strengths” in European capitals like Paris and London.

“Enemy state”

The first units of Russian forces from a Moscow-led contingent have now arrived in Kazakhstan after Tokayev called for the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for help.

Ablyazov said Russian President Vladimir Putin was happy to help with his strategy to “recreate the former USSR”, but said the Kazakhs should view the presence of foreign forces as an “occupation”.

“I urge people to organize strikes and block roads” to protest against their presence in the country, “he said.

He warned Russia that Kazakhstan risked becoming like Ukraine – where anti-Russian sentiment soared after Moscow annexed Crimea and pro-Moscow separatists seized two regions in 2014.

“The more Putin intervenes, the more Kazakhstan will become like Ukraine – an enemy state of Russia.”

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