West must stand up to Russia in Kazakhstan, opposition leader says

  • West must act on Kazakhstan: opposition leader says
  • China will stand by – says Ablyazov
  • Putin seeks to create a new USSR – says Ablyazov
  • West does not fund protests, says Ablyazov

LONDON, Jan.7 (Reuters) – The West must remove Kazakhstan from Moscow’s orbit or Russian President Vladimir Putin will draw the Central Asian state into “a structure like the Soviet Union,” a former minister who is now a former minister told Reuters. leader of the Kazakh opposition. .

The protests that began in response to rising fuel prices this week turned into a broad movement against Nursultan Nazarbayev, who stepped aside as president in 2019 after decades in office but remains the real power in Kazakhstan.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Nazarbayev’s handpicked successor, has called in his ally Russia’s forces as part of a Moscow-led alliance known as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). read more

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Mukhtar Ablyazov, a former banker and government minister who is the leader of an opposition movement called the Democratic Election of Kazakhstan, said the West needed to enter the fray.

“Otherwise, Kazakhstan will become Belarus and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin will methodically impose his program: the recreation of a structure like the Soviet Union,” Ablyazov told Reuters in Russian from Paris. “The West should separate Kazakhstan from Russia.”

“Russia has already entered, it has sent troops. CSTO is Russia. This is a Russian occupation,” he said.

He did not say how the West should remove Kazakhstan from Russia’s orbit, or whether it should use force.

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic, is wedged between Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

China will stand by in Kazakhstan and simply watch the events, Ablyazov said.

A vehicle that burned down during protests sparked by rising fuel prices is seen on a highway in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on January 6, 2022. REUTERS / Pavel Mikheyev

Convicted in absentia in Kazakhstan for fraud, embezzlement and for organizing a murder, Ablyazov, 58, lives in France, where he has been granted refugee status. He has dropped the charges against him in Russia and Kazakhstan on political grounds.

He served as Energy Minister in the 1990s under Nazarbayev, but relations deteriorated. Kazakh authorities say Ablyazov instigated and financed protests in 2016 that forced Nazarbayev to delay unpopular land ownership reforms.

THE ‘FURNITURE’ OF NAZARBAYEV

Ablyazov chose Nazarbayev, who was the head of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan before he became president, as a dictator who had led the people of Kazakhstan into a geopolitical impasse while enriching a venal elite.

“Nazarbayev, he is not in the country at the moment, but that means nothing because he has a telephone and communications, and everyone in power, including Tokayev, will do what he orders,” he said, describing Tokayev as the “furniture of the former President”. “.

“I see myself as the leader of the opposition,” Ablyazov said. “Every day the protesters call me and ask me: ‘What should we do? We are standing here: What should we do?'”

He said he was ready to go to Kazakhstan to head a caretaker government if the protests escalated.

“Not only would I return, people keep asking when I will return and blame me for not coming back to lead the protests, but people do not understand how difficult it would be for me to return, as Russia has sentenced me to 15 years and Kazakhstan to life.” , He said.

Ablyazov rejected suggestions that the West had funded the protests as an attempt to distract from the fact that the roots of the protests were internal.

“I know the Soviet cliché of a Western spy, but I would be happy to be an American or European spy because then we would live like the people of the United States or Europe, and everyone would laugh,” he said. “Unfortunately, the West does not help me; the West hinders me.”

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Report by Guy Faulconbridge; Edited by Alex Richardson, Angus MacSwan and Timothy Heritage

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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