Muratkhan Bazarbayev, a driver for Almaty city municipality-funded broadcaster Almaty TV, was shot and killed in an attack on a convoy of city officials and outlet staff on January 6, 2022, amid large-scale anti-government riots, according to multiple news reports.
Unidentified gunmen with automatic weapons opened fire on vehicles carrying city mayor Baqytzhan Sagintayev and an Almaty TV camera crew at around 9 p.m. as they approached city hall. The convoy was on its way to record Sagintayev’s first public address following security forces’ reassertion of control over the building and adjacent area from protesters, Sagintayev told local outlet Orda.
A video of the incident, confirmed by city authorities as authentic, shows two vehicles attempting to turn as they come under semi-automatic, and then sustained automatic gunfire. CPJ was not able to verify whether the video was shot from inside Bazarbayev’s car. Sagintayev stated that he believes the attack was a planned assassination attempt by an organized group.
Bazarbayev suffered gunshot wounds to the stomach and legs and died at the scene, according to these reports and an interview Almaty TV general director Nurzhan Mukhamedzhanova gave to local news site Tengri News. Diasken Baitibayev, a camera operator at Almaty TV, was shot in the hand and later had two fingers amputated, and two Almaty city officials were hospitalized with bullet wounds, these reports stated.
Mukhamedzhanova told CPJ by letter that Bazarbayev had worked for Almaty TV for nearly three years and was a respected and well-liked member of the company’s team. Bazarbayev’s family declined to comment on his death, she said.
Almaty police have opened a murder investigation into Bazarbayev’s death, reports stated on January 12, 2022. CPJ called the Interior Ministry of Kazakhstan for updates on the case and was asked to send an email request via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; CPJ emailed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 23, 2022, but did not receive a reply.