The press secretary of Kazakhstan’s founding president Nursultan Nazarbayev said Saturday the ex-leader is in the capital Nur-Sultan, dismissing rumors of him leaving the Central Asian country in the wake of unprecedented unrest.
Spokesperson Aidos Ukibay said on Twitter that Nazarbayev was in “direct contact” with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, whom Nazarbayev hand-picked as his successor after stepping down in 2019.
Nazarbayev “calls on everyone to rally around the president of Kazakhstan to overcome current challenges and ensure the integrity of the country,” Ukibay said.
He also called against spreading “knowingly false and speculative information,” likely referring to unconfirmed reports that Nazarbayev had fled the country.
The 81-year-old former Kazakh leader has not made a public appearance since the start of protests earlier this week that erupted into violence.
Much of the anger appeared directed at Nazarbayev, who had ruled Kazakhstan since 1989 before handing over power but who was widely believed to remain in control behind the scenes.