Doctor Says Former Kazakh Leader's 'Medical Procedure' Was Planned
By RFE/RL's Kazakh Service January 20, 2023
ASTANA -- Kazakhstan's former authoritarian president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, has undergone a successful heart procedure for an undisclosed issue and his condition is not life-threatening, his doctor said.
Yury Pya, the director of Kazakhstan's National Heart Surgery Center in Astana, said the unspecified procedure on January 20 was not surgery, as earlier reported in a statement from Nazarbaev's spokesman, and instead involved a less invasive methodology.
"It was not a surgery. It was a medical, diagnostic procedure," Pya said, attributing the use of the word surgery to a "mix up" by people who were not aware of the technical difference between a procedure and a full operation.
The medical procedure was planned for last year, he added, but because of Nazarbaev's schedule the procedure was delayed. Answering a question about Nazarbaev's current health state, Pya said that "his health is as good as that of a cosmonaut."
Pya's briefing was held shortly after Nazarbaev's spokesman Aidos Ukibai said the ex-president had undergone "successful heart surgery."
The news came as a shock to the nation as there were no previous reports that Nazarbaev was suffering any health issues.
Nazarbaev, who ran the tightly controlled former Soviet republic with an iron fist for almost three decades, stepped down in 2019 and has seen his remaining powers sharply curtailed over the past year through a series of moves taken by his handpicked predecessor President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev.
The former president's surgery came one week after Kazakh lawmakers approved a move annulling the Law on the First President - the Leader of the Nation (Elbasy), depriving Nazarbaev's immediate family members of legal immunity.
Parliament also canceled Nazarbaev's status of lifetime honorable member of the parliament's upper chamber, the Senate.
The moves came about after protests last January in the country's west over fuel price hikes unexpectedly turned into deadly countrywide unrest over perceived corruption under the Nazarbaev regime and the cronyism.
In the wake of the protests, Toqaev stripped Nazarbaev of his Security Council role, taking it over himself.
Since then, several of Nazarbaev's relatives and allies have been pushed out of their positions or resigned. Some have been arrested on corruption charges. One of his nephews was sentenced to six years in prison on corruption charges.
Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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