Activist has said plans to topple the government are at hand
A Kazakh businessman living in France, described as the country's "opposition leader" by US state-run media, has announced that he has a plan to take over the nation with the help of Western powers.
Mukhtar Ablyazov, a Kazakh financier and political activist who has been living abroad for the past decade, told RIA Novosti that he is planning to return to the Central Asian nation, despite having been convicted in absentia for ordering the murder of a business partner in 2004.
"We have made a plan, we will achieve regime change," Ablyazov said in an interview published on Monday. "I'm going to fly in and will lead a temporary government of Kazakhstan for half a year. After that we will hold elections. If our party wins those elections, then I will become the legitimate prime minister. There will be no such thing as the president. We will liquidate that office."
The banker claimed that this could take place in the near future, and added that he plans to appeal for help from Western governments.
Abkyazov has been dubbed Kazakhstan's "opposition leader," by RFE/RL, an American state-run media concern which is charter bound to "provide a surge capacity to support United States foreign-policy objectives during crises abroad."
"Now I'm appearing publicly on French television," he elaborated. "I addressed [French President Emmanuel] Macron directly. I have warned the Western countries that if they take a wait-and-see position, then Central Asia will become a bigger hotbed than Afghanistan."
Ablyazov currently lives in France, where he has been granted refugee status, and said that he avoids traveling to other countries out of fears of being pursued by the Kazakh authorities. In addition to his murder conviction, the banker has been sentenced in Kazakhstan for fraud and embezzlement. He maintains that the charges are all politically motivated.
Kazakhstan saw mass unrest in the first weeks of January, triggered at first by a sharp spike in fuel prices. The protests turned violent in places, and the authorities announced last week that at least 225 people died in the demonstrations, including 19 police officers and military servicemen.
In response to the unrest, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced a series of planned political reforms, and also called for assistance from peacekeeping forces from the Russian-led CSTO alliance. The forces began their withdrawal last Thursday. The president also alleged that many of the protesters were "terrorists" with backing from overseas, but presented no evidence to support this theory.