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Central Asia news

Kazakhstan: Is the president's daughter about to divorce Rahat Aliyev?

30.05.2007 09:23 msk

Vremya Novostei

Politics Kazakhstan

The authorities of Kazakhstan are determined to bag and bring home Rahat Aliyev, 44, President Nursultan Nazarbayev's son-in-law whose name is on the international list of wanted criminals. Charges of abduction and economic crime were pressed against Aliyev last week. Aliyev was relieved of the duties of ambassador to Austria and the OSCE. Kazakh secret services dispatched a team to Vienna under the command of Deputy Prosecutor General Askhat Daubayev to trace down and arrest Aliyev.

The scandal involving the president's once omnipotent son-in-law is the talk of the day in Kazakhstan, more so than the recent amendments to the Constitution enabling Nazarbayev, the head of Kazakhstan since 1989, to become president for life. Kazakh web sites are wildly speculating on what is to become of Aliyev. One popular web site confidently predicts an inevitable divorce initiated by Dariga Nazarbayeva. The web site quotes "knowledgeable sources" as saying that "Aliyev has already had his belongings ferried out of the house he occupies in Vienna in several trucks." Granted that the ex-ambassador stripped of diplomatic immunity in on the run seems logical, but the reports on "truckloads" are probably an exaggeration.

Representatives of other countries to the OSCE, Aliyev's colleagues until recently, claim that there is more to the real estate he bought in the capital of Austria than this single apartment. If foreign diplomats know it, then the special team sent to Vienna is surely privy to this information. It follows that Aliyev must be hiding somewhere else where he believes his fellow countrymen will never get him. In any case, Aliyev is confined to the territory of Austria. ("The so called "red cards" have been sent worldwide to alert the authorities and prevent the wanted man from crossing state borders," spokesman for the Kazakh Interior Ministry announced.)

Sources from the diplomatic circles in the capital of Austria do not rule out the possibility that the ex-ambassador of Kazakhstan will contact the authorities soon seeking political asylum. Matters like that are decided by courts which will have to deal with the extradition request from Kazakhstan first. Extradition to Kazakhstan does not threaten anyone as long as the matter is handled by the court. As for the political asylum Aliyev may decided to seek, his former colleagues regard this opportunity with considerable skepticism. They do not believe that Aliyev may be called "a Kazakh Berezovsky", much less another ex-premier Kajegeldin. (Nazarbayev's political enemy and prime minister in 1994-1997, Kajegeldin immigrated in 1998.)

The family of Joldas Timraliyev, one of the top executives of the Kazakh Nurbank the president's son-in-law is charged with abduction of, objects against the idea of political asylum for Aliyev in Austria. Austrian Embassy officials were served a special statement to this effect in Alma-Ata, yesterday, and asked to convey it to the Austrian ambassador.

The oppositionist Genuine Ak Jol party released a statement where Timraliyev's kidnapping was branded as an "atrocity" heralding "Aliyev's political decline". The tragic demise of ex-mayor of Alma-Ata Zamanbek Nurkadilov in 2005 (he suicided, according to the official investigation) and assassination of Altynbek Sarsenbayev with his two aides in 2006 "sparked reports indicating Aliyev's involvement in these crimes... Genuine Ak Jol demands new investigations of these deaths with an emphasis on the possibility of Aliyev's involvement," the statement concluded.

Nazarbayev himself offers no comment on the scandal involving his family - or on his own new powers invested in him by the amended Constitution. Some experts expect the president to speak up on the issues during the Internet-conference scheduled for June 7. Almost 100 questions have already been forwarded to the call-center.

Yesterday, Nazarbayev met with Sergei Sobyanin, Director of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation on a three day visit to Kazakhstan these days. According to official reports, Sobyanin is in Astana for a meeting with his Kazakh opposite number Adilbek Jaksybekov. What information is available indicates that "amendments to the Constitution that have radically altered the political system of Kazakhstan" were discussed during the audience. Sobyanin assured his host that the said amendments "were taken in Russia with avid interest." Whether or not the Aliyev's affair was discussed at the meeting is anybody's guess even though it has altered the political situation in Kazakhstan in a no less radical manner.

Arkady Dubnov

Vremya Novostei, May 30, 2007, p. 5