Karim Massimov, who championed Almaty's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, has been arrested ©Getty Images

Former Kazakhstan Prime Minister Karim Massimov, who chaired the Almaty 2022 Winter Olympic Games Bid Committee, has been arrested on suspicion of treason.

Massimov's detention was announced by the National Security Committee, a body he headed until his removal by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during widespread unrest and violent protests in the country this week.

The 56-year-old, twice Kazakhstan's Prime Minister and who headed the intelligence agency that replaced the Soviet-era KGB, will be familiar to dozens of officials in the Olympic Movement after serving as chairman of Almaty's unsuccessful bid for the 2022 Games.

Massimov championed the bid and pitched to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at a technical presentation of Almaty's candidacy in Lausanne in June 2015, before leading the Kazakh delegation at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, where the city lost by just four votes to Beijing.

Massimov gave a speech to the IOC electorate at the Session, where he urged the membership to make a brave decision rather than one that made them sleep easier at night.

The vote was much closer than expected - Almaty was the outsider, with Beijing the favourite - as the Chinese capital won by 44 votes to 40.

It came after problems with the "integrity" of the electronic voting system, leading to IOC President Thomas Bach requesting for a written ballot to be used instead.

The reasons for Massimov's arrest have not been revealed by Kazakh authorities.

Violent protests have been held across Kazakhstan this week in response to the doubling of fuel prices ©Getty Images
Violent protests have been held across Kazakhstan this week in response to the doubling of fuel prices ©Getty Images

Kazakhstan has been plunged into crisis following demonstrations sparked by the doubling of fuel prices, leading to violent clashes across the country and resulting in the detention of around 4,000 people.

The Interior Ministry claims 26 "armed criminals" and 18 security officers were killed in the clashes. 

Almaty and other cities in the former Soviet nation were placed under a state of emergency in response to the protests.

In Almaty, the former capital of the country, protestors were seen setting fire to the city administration building and storming the Mayor's office.

Massimov was Kazakhstan Prime Minister from January 2007 to September 2012, and between April 2014 and September 2016.

He worked closely with former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled the country for three decades following independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Nazarbayev was this week removed as head of the influential Security Council by Tokayev, who appointed himself as his replacement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent hundreds of troops into Kazakhstan in an attempt to restore order.