A total of 18 foreign nationals remain imprisoned in Kazakhstan for allegedly being involved in last month’s unrest that killed 225 people, according to the country’s human rights commissioner.
Speaking at a news meeting on Tuesday, Elvira Azimova said that foreign nationals, 14 of whom are Uzbek, two Russian and two Kyrgyz nationals, are in jail pending trial.
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She said that the foreigners are held in temporary detention centres.
Kazakh authorities on Monday also jailed Murat Bektanov, the country’s former defence minister, after prosecutors launched a probe against him for allegedly failing to fulfil his duties during the unrest. He faces four to eight years in prison if convicted.
The unrest began on January 2 in a southwestern oil town against a fuel price increase and spread to the rest of Kazakhstan’s urban centres, morphing into deadly clashes and looting.
Authorities in Kazakhstan have blamed the violence on bandits and international “terrorists” who they said hijacked the protests that saw the epicentre of unrest move to the country’s largest city, Almaty.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev turned to a Russia-led military bloc for help during the unrest and sidelined his former patron and predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev by taking over the National Security Council.
Troops from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an alliance of six former Soviet states, helped calm the violence in the Central Asian country and withdrew.