06ASTANA585, KAZAKHSTAN: ANOTHER OPPOSITION LEADER FACES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06ASTANA585 2006-11-16 11:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO0761
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHTA #0585/01 3201152
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161152Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7685
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1643
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2152

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000585 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR SCA/CEN (M. O'MARA), DRL/PHD (C. KUCHTA-HELBLING) 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/16/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN:  ANOTHER OPPOSITION LEADER FACES 
CRIMINAL CHARGES 
 
 
Classified By: Amb. John Ordway, reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  The Financial Police have launched a series 
of civil and criminal charges against popular opposition 
leader Bulat Abilov related to an investment fund that he 
founded in the 1990s.  Abilov, who faces up to ten years in 
prison, believes that the prosecution is politically 
motivated.  He alleges that members of President Nazarbayev's 
inner circle view him as a threat and are orchestrating the 
case to remove him from the political arena.  Abilov claims 
that presidential insider Bulat Utemuratov informed him that 
one of Abilov's enemies even told President Nazarbayev that 
Abilov had asked Vice President Cheney to finance a 
"revolution" in Kazakhstan.  End summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
Criminal Charges with Possible Ten Year Sentence 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
2. (SBU) Opposition activist Bulat Abilov, co-chairman of the 
True Ak Zhol party, is facing up to ten years in prison on 
criminal charges related to an investment fund he created in 
the mid-1990s.  The Financial Police have charged Abilov and 
two associates in the Butya-Kapital investment fund, Baurzhan 
Karabekov and Ualikhan Bekbosyn, with large-scale 
misappropriation and embezzlement, inflicting damages, tax 
evasion, and abuse of power by a manager of a commercial 
organization.  The charges relate to business activities from 
1996-1998 and carry a maximum sentence of ten years. 
 
3. (C) The criminal trial against Abilov, Karabekov, and 
Bekbosyn is scheduled to begin on November 22 in the 
Almalinskiy district court of Almaty.  In a November 14 
conversation with Pol-Econ Chief, Abilov said that he planned 
to do everything possible to delay the proceedings.  He had 
just replaced his legal team and would move for a one-month 
continuance so that the new lawyers can familiarize 
themselves with the case.  Abilov explained that President 
Nazarbayev is widely expected to announce sweeping political 
reforms in a December address to the Democratization 
Commission.  Such a move would presumably lead to a softening 
of the authorities' efforts to constrain the opposition, 
Abilov said, and create a more favorable environment for the 
trial. 
 
------------------------------ 
Charges Politically Motivated? 
------------------------------ 
 
4. (SBU) In a related civil trial on November 2, Karabekov 
argued that the statute of limitations had long expired.  He 
stated that when the Butya-Kapital fund was liquidated in 
December 2004, 1.2 billion tenge ($9.4 million) was 
distributed to its 500,000 shareholders, making it the only 
one of the 167 funds set up to privatize state assets to pay 
any money to its shareholders.  After the Almaty City Court 
rejected Karabekov's appeal, his lawyer alleged in a 
television interview that the Financial Police had put 
together the case in retaliation for Bulat Abilov's political 
activities.  The lawyer said that the Financial Police had 
called numerous Butya-Kapital shareholders around the country 
to inform them of the alleged violations and encourage them 
to file a lawsuit; the seven individuals who agreed to do so 
had never appeared in court or asked for financial 
compensation.  The authorities were seeking a ruling to use 
as a precedent in upcoming criminal proceedings, he alleged. 
 
5. (C) When asked why the authorities were focusing on him, 
rather than other opposition leaders who were even more 
outspoken, Abilov told Pol-Econ Chief that many in 
Nazarbayev's inner circle saw him as a threat because of his 
popularity with the public, the strong support he receives 
from major businesses, his ability to unite disparate forces 
within the opposition, and his financial wherewithal.  Abilov 
said that he had personally financed Zharmakhan Tuyakbay's 
2005 presidential campaign, and had co-financed the 
opposition's 2004 parliamentary campaign with 
Kazkommertsbank.  (Note: In addition to the factors Abilov 
mentioned, his frequent intemperate public statements have 
undoubtedly attracted unfavorable attention from Astana.) 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
Abilov Alleges High-Level Campaign to Discredit Him 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
6. (C) Someone in Nazarbayev's inner circle was now using the 
Financial Police to try to remove him from the political 
arena, Abilov alleged.  He claimed that key Presidential 
 
ASTANA 00000585  002 OF 002 
 
 
Administration figure Bulat Utemuratov had informed him that 
someone in a power ministry (i.e. the Procuracy, the KNB, or 
the MVD) had told Nazarbayev that during Vice President 
Cheney's May 6 breakfast with members of the opposition, 
Abilov had asked for funding to "organize a revolution" and 
unseat Nazarbayev.  Abilov said that Nazarbayev had repeated 
the allegation to Tuyakbay during a September 22 meeting. 
(Note: Abilov made no such request during the meeting with &#x000A
;the Vice President.) 
 
8. (C) Abilov told Pol-Econ Chief that Nazarbayev had 
personally tried to convince him to leave politics on several 
occasions, offering him his choice of natural resources, 
banks, or private firms as inducement.  He had refused each 
time.  Someone in Nazarbayev's inner circle had made him a 
similar offer recently, Abilov said; if he would go on 
television and acknowledge the validity of the December 2005 
presidential elections, the charges against him would be 
dropped.  Abilov was adamant that he would not betray his 
principles by taking a "deal" when he had done nothing 
against the president. 
 
9. (SBU) Abilov said that he planned to visit Washington in 
December, probably with Zharmakhan Tuyakbay.  His goal was to 
preserve contacts between the opposition and influential 
thinkers in Washington, as well as to obtain visible "moral 
support" during his trial.  Abilov will have to obtain 
permission from the court examining his case and from the 
Procuracy in order to travel.  Pol-Econ Chief promised to 
assist with visa referrals and appointment requests at the 
State Department. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
10. (C) Comment:  It is impossible to know at this stage 
whether the charges against Abilov and his business 
associates have any basis in fact, given that the 
transactions in question took place eight to ten years ago at 
a time when Kazakhstani law was rapidly changing and 
frequently imprecise.  The fact that Butya-Kapital was the 
only investment fund known to have paid dividends to its 
shareholders would seem to indicate that it was one of the 
best managed of the 167 funds created to privatize state 
assets, however, rather than a dishonest enterprise.  Indeed, 
Abilov's popularity with the Kazakhstani public is due in 
part to the fact that he helped many of them profit from 
their privatization vouchers.  The intensity of the Financial 
Police in pursuing Abilov does not therefore seem to be based 
on any genuine shareholder dissatisfaction with 
Butya-Kapital, but rather on political grounds.  Post sees 
the charges against Abilov as similar to the selective 
prosecution that Galymzhan Zhakiyanov experienced in 2002. 
If the authorities manage to prevent Abilov from financing 
his political allies, the Kazkakhstani opposition will be 
even further weakened. End comment. 
ORDWAY

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