A petition has been launched in Kazakhstan, demanding to deprive ex-president Nursultan Nazarbayev of immunity.

The petition demanding the abolition of the country’s constitutional law on the first president, which guarantees complete immunity to Nursultan Nazarbayev and members of his family, has been posted on the Egov.press website. 

According to this law adopted in 2000, the first president possesses total, absolute and termless immunity for all actions he performs while in office, and that he remains a government official until his death.  He also retains the ability to speak to the people of Kazakhstan, keeps guards, communication, transport, and state support of his activity, and that his official apartment and summer residence became his property with official maintenance. He is also provided with medical care, sanatorium, pensions and insurance.

“We believe that these privileges are unacceptable in a free democratic society that the new Kazakhstan aspires to,” says the petition authored by a certain Asylkhan Alibekov.

Nazarbayev, 81, was the first president of an independent Kazakhstan and had not made any public appearances since protests earlier this month that erupted into unprecedented violence.

After stepping down, Nazarbayev maintained an influential role in the country's politics, giving himself the title of "Leader of the Nation" (Elbasy) -- a constitutional status that affords him immunity from prosecution and policymaking privileges.

He also remained the head of the Security Council after stepping down, but Tokayev took over the post following the outbreak of unrest in early January this year.

The capital city, Astana, was renamed Nur-Sultan in 2019, in Nazarbayev’s honor, and over three decades a huge personality cult built up around him.

The protests erupted over a hike in fuel prices, but escalated into violence between security forces and government opponents that left dozens dead.  Much of the anger appeared directed at Nazarbayev, who had ruled Kazakhstan since 1989 before handing over power.

Many protesters shouted "Old Man Out!" referring to Nazarbayev, and a statue of him was torn down in the southern city of Taldykorgan.

Several relatives of Nazarbayev have left influential posts in the aftermath and his ally Karim Masimov -- who headed the secret services -- was imprisoned.

Nazarbayev's family has extensive business interests in Kazakhstan and media reports say they have an impressive portfolio of wildly expensive luxury properties abroad.

In a first, Tokayev last week criticized Nazarbayev, saying he had failed to share the energy-rich country's vast wealth with ordinary Kazakhs.

Tokayev has framed the riots as a coup attempt assisted by foreign “terrorists.”  According to country’s authorities, the violence left 225 dead and led to the arrest of some 10,000 people.

Over 2,000 troops from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), sent in at Tokayev's request to help quell the unrest.