No conflict among elites in Kazakhstan, says former President Nazarbayev

Nur-Sultan, Jan 18 (EFE).- In his first public appearance since the outbreak of violent protests in Kazakhstan, former President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Tuesday denied that there existed a conflict among the ruling elites, which some observers believe helped spark the unrest.

“President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has all the power in his hands. He presides over the Security Council. He will soon be elected president of the (ruling) Nur Otan party. Therefore, there is no conflict or confrontation among the elites,” Nazarbayev said in a televised address.

The protests erupted on January 2 when the price of liquefied gas, used in many vehicles in the country as a cheap alternative to gasoline, doubled when the government stopped regulating it.

Although Tokayev froze prices, the demonstrations had already turned violent, fueled by social discontent with corruption and the rich and powerful in the country, where the Nazarbayev family has great influence and huge economic assets.

“The goal of these organized riots and attacks against Kazakhstan was the destruction of the integrity of the country and the foundations of the state,” Nazarbayev said, noting the importance of protecting independence as it is something he cherishes and “a fragile vessel that requires special care.”

After expressing his condolences to the friends and relatives of the victims, who totaled 225 dead and more than 4,500 wounded or injured, he called for the organizers of the “pogroms and murders” during the riots to be identified.

In Kazakhstan, experts interpreted the riots not as external aggression, but as the result of a struggle for power, which has put an end to the myth of the stability of the political system created by Nazarbayev, who led the country for 30 years and who, for many, continued to rule in the shadows.

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