President Tokayev Gives Major Interview After January Attacks: Fair Investigation Continues, Reforms in Parliamentary and Party System Necessary

NUR-SULTAN – President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev reconfirmed that the violent unrest in January was a planned attempt to seize power headed by professional militants trained abroad in an exclusive interview with Khabar 24 TV channel on Jan. 29.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sat down for his first interview after the tragic events in early January with the Khabar 24 TV channel on Jan. 29.

In his first interview after the tragedy, President Tokayev spoke about the consequences of the attacks on the political and social reforms in the country. 

“All stages of the riot, which started with protests and ended with violence and looting, have been a planned attack with the involvement of professional militants,” he said. 

The militants knew the location of the buildings of law enforcement agencies. The attacks were planned and coordinated. 

The President emphasized that a fair investigation into what happened and concerns for alleged mistreatment of the detained would be thoroughly investigated.

The investigation should provide answers about who was responsible for the violence. “I don’t want to predict the outcome of the investigation, that would be wrong. Many of the militants, including their leaders, left Almaty, some fled into the countryside, others escaped across the border to the neighboring countries,” he said.

There was no force used against the demonstrators, the President stated. 

Tokayev also welcomed an independent investigation of what is happening now and what happened during the tragic days. “As the head of state, I am interested in ensuring that the rights of people are not violated. Each case must be investigated,” the President said.

It is reported that Commissioner for Human Rights Elvira Azimova and human rights activist Zhemis Turmagambetova visited the pre-trial detention center to meet with the detainees and investigate the conditions of their detention. 

The President spoke about his decision to give the order on Jan. 7 to shoot at armed terrorists saying that the law enforcement agencies did not have a plan of action during the unrest. “There was no unified algorithm, action plan for the heads of law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement officials were afraid to take responsibility. I am a diplomat, I knew that there would be a reaction, but the interests of the state and the security of our people are above all,” he added.

According to the President, by the time he gave the order, peaceful protesters left the streets, and only bandits remained.

Not a single shot was fired by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) peacekeeping contingent, said Tokayev. The involvement of the CSTO peacekeeping forces was carried out in accordance with the organization’s mandate. Their main function was to protect strategic facilities.

The head of state announced plans to reform the parliamentary and party system in Kazakhstan at the extraordinary 21st Congress of the Nur Otan Party on Jan. 28. During the interview, Tokayev reiterated that the nation needs several strong parties in parliament to have capable political leaders. Reforms are not about changing people, reforms are about changing the system, he said. The system should work for the benefit of the state and people.

Tokayev said that he intends to serve as president a maximum of two terms in line with the Constitution of Kazakhstan. He plans to continue the course of political modernization, describing it as “his principled position.”

Tokayev noted that the mission of the head of state is “to make difficult decisions” but the recent events demonstrated that “the interests and security of the state and people are above all.”

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