Former Kazakh security boss jailed for 18 years over role in attempted coup

ALMATY (Reuters) – A court in Kazakhstan on Monday sentenced the former head of the country’s state security body to 18 years in prison over his role in violent unrest and an attempted coup that took place in January 2022.

Protests over fuel price increases last year quickly turned into the deadliest bout of political violence in oil-rich Kazakhstan’s history, with 238 people dying in clashes and local government buildings in several cities coming under attack.

Karim Masimov, 57, a former prime minister who headed state security at the time, was accused of being among the leaders of a group that plotted the coup, although Kazakh authorities have not said who planned to ultimately take over as president.

Masimov’s trial was held behind closed doors and it was not clear whether he had pleaded guilty.

A number of other officials, including Kazakhstan’s defence minister at the time, have been tried for either failing to act or sabotaging the work of security forces during the 2022 unrest.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin both described the unrest as a foreign-backed terrorist uprising. Putin sent troops to help restore order in the large Central Asian nation that borders Russia.

Masimov was formerly a close associate of veteran Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev who resigned in 2019.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Gareth Jones)