Nazarbayev ruled Kazakhstan from independence in 1991 until 2019. When he stepped down, he handpicked his successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and retained the honorific title “Leader of the Nation”. He was also the head of the country’s security council until he was removed by Tokayev during the unrest, which official figures say killed 225 people.
In the intervening days, many of Nazarbayev’s relatives have been removed from key positions, and the former prime minister and head of the security services was arrested on treason charges. There have been rumours that members of Nazarbayev’s circle may have used the unrest as a pretext to make a power grab, something Tokayev was able to stymie by persuading a Russia-led military alliance to introduce troops into the country.