Kazakh leader blames ex-president for creating 'layer of wealthy people'

Tuesday 11 Jan 2022

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Tuesday accused his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, of creating a caste of wealthy elite, after unrest erupted last week amid anger over poverty.

Kazakhstan s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
File Photo: Kazakhstan s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev speaks during his televised statement to the nation in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. AP

In rare criticism of his 81-year-old mentor, who for decades was the most powerful person in Kazakhstan, Tokayev said Nazarbayev's rule had created "a layer of wealthy people, even by international standards".

"I believe that the time has come to pay tribute to the people of Kazakhstan and help them on a systematic and regular basis," Tokayev said, noting that "very profitable companies" would be asked to pay money into a state fund.

In a video address to officials and lawmakers, Tokayev added that he expected "active participation from people who possess huge wealth but keep in the shadows".

The comments mark the first time career diplomat Tokayev has publicly criticised the man who chose him as his handpicked successor in 2019, despite earlier rumours of tensions between the pair.

In another significant move, Tokayev announced plans to bring an end to a widely criticised private recycling monopoly linked to the former president's youngest daughter, 41-year-old Aliya Nazarbayeva.

"This should be done by a state organisation, as is the case in foreign countries," he said.

Tokayev referred to Nazarbayev on Tuesday as Elbasy, or "Leader of the Nation", a constitutional status that affords the former leader unique policy-making powers and immunity from prosecution.

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