Former member of Russia’s State Duma Ruslan Balbek claimed that the protesters who have been on Kazakhstan’s streets since Sunday are being directed by Kazakh nationals who were “all trained in Turkey at the institutions of Fethullah Gülen”, Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on Thursday.
Balbek also said there are many Islamic State (ISIS) militants participating in the deadly protests.
“The hands of ISIS are visible in organising the riots. They are in their style: Brutal killings and absurd demands,” Balbek said. “But those Kazakhs who were trained in Turkey in Fethullah Gülen’s educational institutions sit in the headquarters.”
The instigators of the protests “picked up an ideological virus for their head from Gülen and others like him”, Balbek said.
The politician also said Gülen, an Islamic preacher who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, was behind the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016. A former ally, Gülen is also accused of coup plotting by the Turkish government. He denies any involvement.
Over decades, Gülen’s followers established a network of schools around the globe. Host countries confiscated many of the group’s institutions following the Turkish government’s diplomatic efforts in the sweeping post-coup crackdown.
Kazakhstan was reportedly not one of these countries, and 27 schools allegedly affiliated with Gülen continue to operate in the Central Asian country. The Kazakh Education Ministry announced that the schools would not be shut down in a statement in November 2021, the Turkish daily Hürriyet reported at the time.
“These schools were established by bilateral agreements signed by Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Turkey’s President Turgut Özal just after independence,” the ministry said.
“After these incidents they won’t let a single FETÖist remain in Kazakhstan,” pro-government columnist İbrahim Karagül tweeted earlier in the day.
FETÖ is the acronym the Turkish government uses to describe Gülen’s followers. It stands for the Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation (FETÖ).
“FETÖ stirred up Kazakhstan after Turkey, pushing it into civil war,” Karagül said, adding that American and Israeli intelligence services would “drag Central Asia into disaster in the name of the West”.
“FETÖ is both a domestic and a foreign threat. Everybody will understand this,” he concluded.
Since Sunday, thousands have been on the streets throughout Kazakhstan, with protests against price hikes for cheap fuel instantly turning into anti-government riots. Wednesday saw the government resign while Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared a two-week state of emergency.
Tokayev has requested peacekeeping forces from the Russia-led post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), Reuters reported.