The head of a top police academy in Kazakhstan has been fired after a subordinate equated the country’s police force to a criminal gang in a video that went viral on social media.
The Interior Ministry announced on January 4 that General Zhan Kenzhetaev had been sacked as the director of the police academy in the central city of Qaraghandy.
The dismissal comes a day after Interior Ministry spokesman Almas Sadubaev said on Facebook that A.R. Tastaibekov, who was the deputy chief in charge of cadets at the academy in Qaraghandy, had been fired for “committing an act that discredits state services.”
Authorities say it was Tastaibekov who appears in an incriminating video shot on December 31.
In the video, the individual identified by the Interior Ministry as Tastaibekov wishes a prosperous future for Kazakhstan so the police, the "bratva" -- a term usually meaning a criminal gang, band, or brotherhood -- can thrive for generations to come.
He then quotes Antibiotik, a fictional criminal in a 1990s Russian television show: "Let our friendship be selfless.... We acted without expecting thanks, because we are a bratva -- to put it simply, we are a band."
"Let Kazakhstan and our families flourish," he says. "Hurrah, comrades!"
After he speaks, chants of "Hurrah!" can be heard from the dozens of men in police uniform in attendance.
After Tastaibekov's sacking was announced on January 3, activists and others on social media appeared unsatisfied, demanding harsher measures from the government.
Corruption within law-enforcement structures and police brutality have been a focus of rights activists for decades in Kazakhstan, where authoritarian President Nursultan Nazarbaev has held power since before the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.