President Tokayev says his predecessor and mentor Nursultan Nazarbayev created a caste of the wealthy elite in the Central Asian country after unrest erupted last week over a hike in fuel prices.
Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has issued rare criticism of his long-ruling predecessor and said he expected Russian-led forces to leave the troubled Central Asian country in the next 10 days.
Addressing lawmakers in a video conference broadcast live on Tuesday, Tokayev fired an eyebrow-raising broadside at his mentor Nursultan Nazarbayev (81) as the post-Soviet country reels from unprecedented violence that began with peaceful protests over an energy price hike.
Tokayev, 68, said Nazarbayev's rule had created "a layer of wealthy people, even by international standards".
"The time has come to pay tribute to the people of Kazakhstan and help them on a systematic and regular basis," Tokayev added, noting that "very profitable companies" would be asked to pay money into a state fund.
"The current system is oriented towards major structures and is based on the principle: 'everything for friends and laws for everyone else'," he said.
The oil-rich country's descent into chaos has laid bare infighting at the top of a government once dominated by Nazarbayev.
The older man retains the constitutional status of "Leader of the Nation" despite stepping down from the presidency in 2019.
In another significant move, Tokayev announced plans to bring an end to a widely criticised private recycling monopoly linked to the former president's youngest daughter, 41-year-old Aliya Nazarbayeva.
"This should be done by a state organisation, as is the case in foreign countries," he said.
Following a request from career diplomat Tokayev, the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) deployed troops to bring about order and shore up the authorities.
On Tuesday, Tokayev announced "a phased withdrawal" would begin in two days and take "no more than 10 days".
"The main mission of the CSTO peacekeeping forces has been successfully completed," he said.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said the troops would depart only when the situation was "fully stabilised".
"We also welcome President Tokayev's announcement that the CSTO collective peacekeeping forces have completed their mission," US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
"Until the CSTO peacekeeping forces are withdrawn, we'll continue to call upon all Collective Security Treaty Organization collective peacekeeping forces to respect international human rights and to uphold their commitment to promptly depart Kazakhstan as the government of Kazakhstan has requested," he said.
Concerns over CSTO deployment
The CSTO mission of more than 2,000 troops was deployed at the peak of the crisis, after armed clashes between government opponents and security forces and a looting spree trashed parts of the largest city Almaty.
The decision was a first for the CSTO, often touted by Moscow as a NATO equivalent but previously reluctant to interfere in unrest in Central Asia, a region with long historical ties to Russia.
Concern has mounted that Moscow could leverage the mission to entrench its influence in Kazakhstan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that "once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to leave".