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Nazarbaev Makes Rare Public Appearance, Along With Ousted Aides

By RFE/RL's Kazakh Service August 12, 2022

NUR-SULTAN - Former President Nursultan Nazarbaev made a rare public appearance, attending the opening of a new mosque in the Kazakh capital, accompanied by top associates who were pushed out in the wake of the January political unrest that roiled the country.

The August 12 visit to a ceremony unveiling a new mosque in the Central Asian capital was the only the third time since the January violence that the 82-year-old Nazarbaev has been seen in public.

Nazarbaev gave only brief opening remarks about the mosque's construction.

Nazarbaev ruled Kazakhstan for nearly three decades before resigning in 2019 and picking his long-time ally, Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, as his successor.

But he retained sweeping powers as the head of the Security Council, enjoying substantial powers with the title of "Elbasy" or leader of the nation.

In January, protests that started over a fuel price hike spread across Kazakhstan because of discontent over the cronyism that had plagued the country under Nazarbaev. More than 200 people were killed in the unrest, and hundreds arrested.

In the wake of these events, 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.

In June, a Toqaev-initiated referendum removed Nazarbaev's name from the Kazakhstan's constitution and annulled his status as Elbasy.

Kazakh critics say Toqaev's initiatives were mainly cosmetic and would not change the nature of the autocratic system in a country that has been plagued for years by rampant corruption and nepotism.

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/kazakhstan-nazarbaev- rare-public-appearance/31985127.html

Copyright (c) 2022. 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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