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From Mass Murders To Fatal Crash, Kazakhstan's Border Service In Disarray

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Securing the 12,000-kilometer border of the world's ninth-largest country has never been an easy task.

But in 2012 Kazakhstan's challenges proved especially steep.

In May, 14 border guards serving at a remote outpost on the Kazakh-Chinese border were shot dead and their post burned to the ground. A fellow guard, 19-year-old Vladislav Chelakh, was charged with the slaughter and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.

The incident sparked an immediate housecleaning in the Kazakh Border Service. Its head, Major-General Nurzhan Myrzaliev, stepped down. His replacement, Colonel Turganbek Stambekov, came in with orders to reform the troubled corps.

But on December 25, Stambekov was killed when his military transport plane crashed in the southern city of Shymkent, just north of the Uzbek border. All 27 people on board were killed, including Stambekov's wife and 20 high-ranking border personnel.

Speaking on January 3 at a memorial service in Almaty, Nurtai Abykaev, the head of Kazakhstan's National Security Committee (KNB), spoke of Stambekov's dedication to protecting Kazakhstan's borders.

To read the full story

Written by Daisy Sindelar in Prague, based on reporting by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service correspondent Kazis Toguzbaev in Almaty.

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

From Mass Murders To Fatal Crash, Kazakhstan's Border Service In Disarray

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