Kazakhstan's National Security Committee (NSC) intelligence agency has denied that two men apparently filmed being executed by a child militant with the Islamic State (IS) group are Kazakh citizens.
The two men appear in a video released by IS on January 13.
The video, titled Uncovering The Enemy Within, shows the two men "confessing" to having been recruited by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to spy on Russian-speaking militants in Syria.
The first man identifies himself as Zhanbolat Mamaev. He says that he was born in 1976 and is from the Zhambyl region of Kazakhstan.
The second captive appears to be an ethnic Russian and identifies himself as Sergei Ashimov, who says he was born in 1984.
The two men later appear to be shot by a young boy, who also appears to be a Kazakh.
In a press release on its website on January 15, the NSC said that it had carried out "necessary checks" of the IS video.
"It has been established that the individuals shown in the video are not citizens of Kazakhstan," the NSC said.
Security Services Issue A Warning
The NSC also issued a warning about spreading "false information" regarding the IS video.
"The Press Service of the NSC recalls that, in accordance with Article 274 of the Penal Code, the dissemination of false information that creates a risk of public disorder or substantial harm to the rights and legitimate interests of citizens or organizations or theh legally protected interests of society or the state, shall be punishable by a fine of up to one thousand monthly payment indicators or correctional labor for the same amount or restraint of liberty for term not exceeding one year," the warning read.
The NSC went on to issue a "recommendation" to local media outlets.
"It is highly recommended that domestic media take a responsible approach to reprinting and linking to commentary and materials from unofficial foreign sources," the NSC said.
Kazakh news outlets have been downplaying reports of the Islamic State video, which received considerable coverage in Russia. Outlets in Kazakhstan that did report on the video did not mention that one of the captives claimed to be a Kazakh national, or that the child who appears to shoot the two men was also likely a Kazakh.
The NSC's warning comes after Kazakhstan blocked a previous Islamic State video, released in November and titled Race Toward Good, which showed a group of Kazakh nationals including children. The children in the video are shown undergoing ideological and military instruction and drills.
The release of Race Toward Good caused an uproar in Kazakhstan, which quickly spread beyond the country's borders to neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where media outlets were also asked to remove reports featuring footage from the video.
It is unsurprising that the new January 13 video has resulted in a flat-out denial from Kazakhstan that the two men shown are Kazakhs. The video appears to show a young child being made to carry out executions and has received global attention as one of the most shocking produced by IS.
Kazakhstan, whose prosecutor general announced in December that the country was "well aware" of the identities of all of the child militants featured in Race Toward Good is likely to be extremely concerned by the reports, including by at least one outlet in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, that the young boy featured in the January 13 video looks very similar to one of the children interviewed in Race Toward Good.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk