søndag 16. januar 2022

Scepticism in uneasy Kazakhstan as president promises reform

Kazakhstan’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who at the height of unrest last week said he had ordered troops to shoot to kill without warning, has spent this week taking a softer line and promising genuine reform. However, with thousands of people still in detention and a behind-the-scenes power struggle still not fully resolved, many have expressed scepticism.

“People who have carried out serious crimes will be punished in accordance with the law,” Tokayev wrote on Twitter on Friday. “For others, I order the prosecutor to determine their level of guilt, and if there are no aggravating circumstances, to soften their punishment.”

More than 10,000 people have been detained during the past two weeks. At the height of the protests, Tokayev said “20,000 terrorists” had attacked Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, but these numbers seem to have been quietly revised. On Thursday, the prosecutor’s office said 494 criminal cases had been opened, including 44 for terrorism. Most of those detained instead faced administrative charges with a maximum of 15 days in jail.