Former Kazakh secret service chief sentenced to 18 years in prison for January protests

Archive – Military deployment in Nursultan, Kazakhstan – VLADISLAV VODNEV / SPUTNIK / CONTACTOPHOTO

A court in Astana has sentenced former chairman of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee Karim Massimov to 18 years in prison for high treason due to his role in the January 2022 riots, in which more than 200 people were killed.

The Astana Interdistrict Court has also ordered Massinov, who has been under arrest since that January, to confiscate his property and to be banned from holding public office, the Tengrinews portal reported.

The deputies of the former head of the Kazakh secret services, Anwar Sadikulov, Daulet Yergozhin and Marat Osipov, have also been sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to 16 years on the same charges in connection with the riots.

Prosecutor General Berik Assilov explained in January that all those involved were accused of strategically abandoning military positions during the protests in provinces such as Almaty, as a result of which »appropriate measures» were not taken to curb the violence.

Last March a Kazakh military court sentenced former Defense Minister Murat Bektanov to 12 years in prison for his role in the unrest after Kazakh President Kasim Khomart Tokayev accused the Armed Forces of demonstrating »criminal inaction» in January.

The country was plunged into crisis in early January 2022, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the government for raising the price of liquefied gas, essential for car travel. The Kazakh Prosecutor’s Office put the number of people killed in the demonstrations at 238, including 19 members of the security forces.