NUR SULTAN, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s founding president said on Tuesday that recent deadly protests were organized to destroy the fundamental principles of the state, as well as the country’s integrity.

In a video-message shared by his spokesman Aidos Ukibay, Nursultan Nazarbayev made a public address for the first time since the protests erupted on Jan. 2, resulting in the deaths of 225 people.

The former president said the events that unfolded showed that the interdependence of the nation must be protected , adding that it would be important to uncover who was behind the attacks and killings.

Nazarbayev further noted that he had handed over his presidential powers to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in 2019 and that he had been living in the capital ever since, not leaving the city.

He also underlined that there had been no confrontation or conflict among the country’s elite.

Stressing that he served Kazakhstan for three decades and carried out progressive reforms while establishing an independent country, he noted that President Tokayev had also launched a move towards new reforms aimed at improving public welfare and that this should be supported.

On Jan. 2, protests broke out in Kazakhstan over an increase in fuel prices in the city of Zhanaozen in Mangystau region, which later turned into clashes with police, with the most violence taking place in Kazakhstan’s former capital and largest city Almaty.

Tokayev turned to a Russia-led military bloc for help, and peacekeepers from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Tajikistan soon arrived in the country and backed Kazakh law enforcement in restoring order.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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