ASTANA -- Kazakh authorities have accused a detained businessman of funding recent mass antigovernment protests against land privatization as part of a plot to seize power.
Businessman Toqtar Toleshov from the South Kazakhstan region was arrested in January on suspicion of financing criminal groups and illegal drugs possession.
Kazakhstan's National Security Service (KNB) said on June 6 that Toleshov’s “plan included destabilizing the situation in the country by creating flash points, organizing protests and mass unrest."
KNB spokesman Ruslan Karasev told reporters that several people, including a former deputy prosecutor-general and two high-ranking military officers, have been detained over the weekend on suspicion of being Toleshov's accomplices.
Toleshov ran the Kazakh office of a Russia-based organization, the Center for the Analysis of Terrorist Threats.
Thousands protested across Kazakhstan in April and May against the government's plans to privatize agricultural lands.
Hundreds of activists were detained for taking part or calling for unsanctioned protests. The majority of them were released, but some were fined or sent to prison for 10 to 15 days.
With reporting by Reuters