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Central Asia news

Mistress' body may supplement the extradition request for Rahat Aliyev

06.08.2007 11:39 msk

Kommersant

Kazakhstan

Body of Anastasia Novikova, 26, NTK TV network anchor missing since 2004, was shipped to Alma-Ata, yesterday. Sources in law enforcement agencies say off the record that Rahat Aliyev, ex-ambassador to Austria and former son-in-law of the president, may be involved. Observers are of an entirely different opinion. The Interior Ministry of Kazakhstan grew interested in Novikova now, three years after her disappearance, in the hope to make it another argument for Aliyev's extradition from Vienna.

Discovery of Novikova's body in the South Kazakh region was reported in the media last week. The regional police force issued a formal denouncement on Friday. Press Secretary Saltanat Karakozova said no bodies of missing young women were discovered in the region. The Kazakh Interior Ministry officially confirmed that the search for the missing woman continued. Insiders added that the investigation does not rule out Aliyev's involvement in the disappearance.

On Sunday, however, sources in the regional police force and law enforcement agencies in Alma-Ata pronounced Novikova's body found and shipped to Alma-Ata. Insiders refuse to elaborate saying that only a limited number of senior officers is privy to the information.

Novikova moved to Alma-Ata from Tashkent in 2001 and found a job with some theater at first. She was invited to NTK soon to anchor Lunar News, a programme on astrology. NTK is a TV network that belongs to Alma-Media, a media holding Aliyev was one of the owners until recently.

Novikova's family lost contacts with Anastasia in June 2004 but reported her missing three years later, on July 26, 2007. Novikova's brother Vladimir Medvedev explained the family was afraid of her prominent patron. Some of Novikova's letters to her family turned over to the media identified Aliyev as the patron and the father of her daughter.

Media outlets imply that when Aliyev became ambassador to Austria, Novikova married one Danijar Esten of the Kazakh Embassy in Vienna. The marriage was supposed to serve as a cover for Aliyev's dalliance. Novikova's daughter (either Louise or Tomiris - sources differ on her name) was taken away from her soon for an unknown reason and probably turned over to Esten's mother Dametken. Esten himself was killed in a traffic incident in Vienna in 2005. The Estens and the girl they were raising disappeared from their native village of Shalkar, Karasai district of the Alma-Ata region. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Experts point out that the matter of Novikova, the missing woman nobody bothered with until now, surfaced again at precisely the moment Aliyev's extradition from Austria encountered problems. The president's former son-in-law is wanted in Kazakhstan for abduction of Abilmajen Gilimov, Joldas Timraliyev, and Aibar Hasenov, executives of his Nurbank in January 2007. Timraliyev's and Hasenov's whereabouts remain unknown even now. Kazakh law enforcement agencies and Interpol appealed to the Austrians and the latter arrested Aliyev in early June. He was bailed out for 1 million euros on the condition that he remained within reach. Aliyev was relieved of his duties of the ambassador in late May. Official Vienna is not exactly in a hurry to extradite Aliyev, 44, to Kazakhstan. It is investigating his involvement in money-laundering in Austria. The Kazakh Interior Ministry must have decided that the murder charges will persuade the Austrian authorities to extradite Aliyev.

Kommersant, August 6, 2007, p. 7. © Translated by Ferghana.Ru