Former Kazakhstan interior minister detained over alleged role in unrest that killed 238

Authorities arrested a former interior minister on Tuesday in connection with the deadly police crackdown on unrest that gripped the country in 2022, Kazakh news media reported. The Prosecutor General’s Office announced on Monday that Erlan Turgumbayev was detained on charges of “abuse of power and official authority resulting in grave consequences” in the harsh crackdown of riots by the police. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs is responsible for the nation’s police force. The unrest began in the city of Zhanaozen on Jan. 2, 2022, when residents protested a sharp increase in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas, commonly used as fuel for vehicles in Kazakhstan. Those protests evolved into criticisms of economic inequality and former leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose critics say have been profiting off the country’s vast energy wealth ever since assuming office in 1991. Nazarbayez resigned from the presidency in 2019 but still held substantial power at the time of the protests as head of the Kazakhstan’s. In Almaty, the country’s largest city, protests turned violent and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev issued shoot-to-kill orders as demonstrators stormed government buildings. Officials said 238 people were killed in the unrest. Tokayev then pushed an array of reforms, including limiting the presidency to a single seven-year term. He also removed Nazarbayev as head of the security council and the capital city, which had been named Nur-Sultan in Nazarbayev’s honor, reverted to its former name of Astana. Turgumbayev was relieved of duty a month after the unrest.