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EXCLUSIVE-West must stand up to Russia in Kazakhstan, dissident former banker says

by Reuters
Friday, 7 January 2022 10:01 GMT

LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan is now in geopolitical play and unless the West enters the fray then Russia will bring the Central Asian republic to heel in a type of restored Soviet Union, a former banker who casts himself as the leader of the Kazakh opposition protests told Reuters.

Mukhtar Ablyazov, a former government minister who is now living in Paris, said the West needed to enter the fray.

"If not, then Kazakhstan will turn into Belarus and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin with methodically impose his programme: the recreation of a structure like the Soviet Union," Ablyazov told Reuters.

Ablyazov cast himself as the leader of the opposition protests and said he was consulted every day on tactics on the ground in Almaty.

"I see myself as the leader of the opposition," he said. . "Every day the protesters call me and ask: 'What should we do? We are standing here: What should we do?'" (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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