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Central Asia news

Temporary freedom in Austria cost Nazarbayev's son-in-law Rahat Aliyev one million euros

04.06.2007 10:06 msk

Vremya Novostei

Analytics Kazakhstan

Rahat Aliyev, 44, former Kazakh ambassador to Austria and representative at the OSCE better known as the husband of president's daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva, was arrested in Vienna last Friday. The arrest was authorized by the Austrian authorities. Official Astana had put Aliyev's name on the international list of wanted criminals for economic crimes and abduction.

The Austrian authorities stripped Aliyev of diplomatic immunity on May 29. The arrest was made on June 1, when Aliyev was leaving a barber's shop. His Austrian lawyer Farid Rifaat had Aliyev's measure of restrained changed from arrest to recognizance not to leave and bail (1 million euros). Arrested, Aliyev complained of heart condition.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev phoned Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer on May 2 with the request to facilitate extradition of his son-in-law, Kazakhstan Today news agency associated with Aliyev reported. Insiders say that Nazarbayev reached Gusenbauer when he was on an official visit to Turkey. Gusenbauer informed the caller that he had no jurisdiction over Austrian courts.

"The procedure may take some time," spokesman for the Austrian Justice Ministry told Die Deutsche Welle and recalled the episode with the former deputy defense minister of Croatia detained in Austria in March 2007. Wanted in Croatia for illegal arms deals, he was set free on a million euros bail, the matter of his extradition still undecided. As for Aliyev, his case will be handled by the district court of Vienna. The court will contemplate gravity of the charges pressed against Aliyev in Kazakhstan and, also importantly, his chances of getting a fair trial. It will take into account reports on the penitentiary system of Kazakhstan drawn by international human rights organization and even the US Department of State and information concerning tortures.

Profil web site posted Aliyev's interview given not long before the arrest. Nazarbayev's son-in-law maintains that he is wanted as a "mafia chieftain" only because he had the temerity "to voice an opinion different from the president's and to announce that he intended to run for president." Aliyev said all his Kazakh assets had been commandeered and called it a message to all Kazakh businessmen. "Never challenge the president or you will lose everything," he said. According to the former diplomat and chekist, the president once told him, "This is my country. Everyone but you is doing his bidding."

Aliyev is convinced that the president of Kazakhstan and his inner circle "are out to ruin his family." He mentioned in the interview the "hostages" the authorities were keeping in Kazakhstan - his daughter of seven and son Nurali, 22. Nurali himself is already a father (his daughter is four). Aliyev's last son (he is sixteen) is in Vienna with him. Aliyev complained that his parents living in Kazakhstan were under pressure and that secret services Nazarbayev had established in the country were operating "like their predecessors in the USSR." Profil mentioned that Aliyev himself had belonged to secret services but the interviewee announced that he had been trying to change them. "I was a practicing surgeon. I know what clean hands and good conscience are," he said.

Muhtar Ablyazov, ex-minister of energy and one of the founders of the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, knows all there is to know about how the former deputy chairman of the Kazakh National Security Committee had tried to "change" the system. Ablyazov was sentenced to six years imprisonment in 2002 for "economic crimes". The case against him was orchestrated by Aliyev who was after all major businessmen trying to retain independence then.

Aliyev admitted in the interview that he feared for his life now. He added that his idea to make Kazakhstan a monarchy aired a couple of years ago was but a joke.

Nazarbayev himself has never yet commented on the scandal in the family. It was announced the other day that the president would give an Internet-conference on June 7. Two hours long, it will be centered around the proposed innovations in the political life of Kazakhstan. The Kazakh leader will also speak of them at the St.Petersburg economic forum in a week. To a certain extent, the case of the "Kazakhs' son-in-law" as Aliyev is sometimes called may also be regarded as an innovation in the system of checks and counterbalances Nazarbayev set up in the country to find it inoperable. Will the president decide to tell the people how the system will work now?

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Arkady Dubnov

Vremya Novostei, June 4, 2007

Translated by Ferghana.Ru