On March 14 in the Majilis, the Prosecutor General reported on the progress of the investigation into the January events. The prosecutor’s report did not clarify many of the issues of concern raised by the population.
On February 10, Tokayev affirmed that foreign militants played a key role in the riots: “It was a carefully prepared operation of international terrorists, bandits who attacked Kazakhstan in order to, first of all, undermine the constitutional order and, of course, commit a coup d’état” (Source: Kremlin.ru). Putin, for his part, supported this version: “Kazakhstan has become, without any exaggeration, a victim of some international gangs that took advantage of the difficult situation within the country. But nevertheless, the situation has been restored… Russia, as one of the CSTO countries, in accordance with Article 4 of the treaty, offered Kazakhstan help” (Source: Kremlin.ru). Moreover, the version was supported by a statement of the head of the Foreign Intelligence, Sergei Naryshkin, that Russia informed the countries of Central Asia about “the threat of a potential terrorist attack from Syrian militants, ISIS in particular”. Naryshkin said that the coordination of operations was carried out from abroad.
However, when asked by journalists about foreign terrorists on March 14, the Prosecutor General replied: “They were not there. Where did you get this information from?”. The public is bewildered. Why does the Prosecutor General’s version contradict that of the President? The country’s top leadership does not have a coherent version of the events. What credibility can the investigation have if there is confusion on even basic facts? Perhaps the investigation into the January events is being used to settle accounts by politically undesirable representatives of the Kazakhstan elite.
In addition, the CSTO’s participation remains unclear. “There are around 300 thousand armed forces in Kazakhstan” as was declared by the Member of the Majilis, Azamat Abildayev, who asked of the Prosecutor General: “Why was the authority waiting for 2,000 CSTO peacekeepers to arrive, when there were plenty of local forces?” Moreover, as the Prosecutor General stated, the CSTO forces not participate in the anti-terrorist operation. Geopolitics enters the scene. It sets a dangerous precedent foreign troops participating to resolve issues within Kazakhstan. This precedent could later be used for wider interference in the internal affairs of the country. Pandora’s box is open.
Another cause for bewilderment is the introduction of an anti-terrorist regime throughout Kazakhstan, which was in force until January 19, by a decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. 70 days after the events, no terrorists, alive or dead, were presented to the public. The head of the Special Prosecutor’s service answered the journalist’s question that “there are no ongoing cases on terrorism”.
The most pressing issue of concern to the public is the torture of detainees following the January events. So far, officials have admitted that eight people died from torture during detention. The National Security Committee has once again been blamed, when it is well known that the Ministry of Internal Defence carried out arrests and detentions in this investigation. The issue requires an independent investigation involving lawyers, human rights defenders, and relatives of the detained.
The report of the Prosecutor General held in the Majilis leaves the public with more questions than answers. There is no clear position on key issues of the investigation. All that is left is guesswork. There is a possible desire to hide the true picture of what happened. That is why open investigations are imperative. There was not even an answer to a direct question about who was the main culprit of the events.
This assessment was conducted by independent analysts. Next chapter coming soon. For more information, view Case Background.