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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA1415 2007-05-25 05:12 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

DE RUEHTA #1415/01 1450512
P 250512Z MAY 07 ZDK

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 001415 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/24/2017 
     B. ASTANA 1129 
     C. ASTANA 1357 
Classified By: Amb. John Ordway, reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
1. (C) Summary:  In a bizarre turn of events, presidential 
son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev appears to have finally exhausted 
President Nazarbayev's patience with a series of rash public 
statements accusing Kazakhstani officials of criminal 
activity and criticizing the recent package of constitutional 
amendments.  The Ministry of Interior announced on May 23 
that a criminal case has been opened against Aliyev and two 
associates for the alleged kidnapping of two Nurbank 
officials in mid-January, one of whom remains missing after 
disappearing a second time in late January.  In a clear sign 
that the gloves are off, Kazakhstani law enforcement 
officials have allowed one of the men to make his accusations 
public in a written statement and taped address broadcast on 
television.  Foreign Minister Tazhin informed the Ambassador 
that Aliyev will give a press conference on May 24 in Vienna, 
and asked for U.S. restraint in reacting to what will 
undoubtedly be incendiary accusations.  End summary. 
Aliyev Digs His Hole Deeper 
2. (SBU) Over the past week the scandal surrounding 
presidential son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev's alleged involvement 
in the January kidnapping of Nurbank officials (Refs A and B) 
has come to a head against the backdrop of intense public 
debate over constitutional reforms and presidential term 
limits.  Aliyev, currently Kazakhstan's ambassador to Austria 
and the OSCE, has appeared desperate to deflect attention 
from the mounting allegations against him. 
3. (SBU) In a statement published in his Karavan newspaper on 
May 18, Aliyev accused Almaty mayor Imangali Tasmagambetov 
and Minister of Internal Affairs Baurzhan Mukhamedzhanov of 
conspiring against him and of being engaged in criminal 
fraud.  Aliyev alleged that money stolen from Nurbank, where 
Tasmagambetov's nephew Abilmazhen Gilimov was chairman, had 
been used for land speculation in Almaty. 
4.  (SBU) Following the announcement of the reform package 
which included a provision lifting term limits on President 
Nazarbayev (Ref C), Aliyev told the Financial Times that the 
decision to lift term limits "would not improve the 
republic's chances of winning the OSCE presidency."  He added 
that "I fear that my many years of work on the campaign may 
not bring success."  In an apparent attempt to counterbalance 
her husband's comments, first daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva 
told Kazakhstan Today on May 22 that she had signed the 
proposal to lift constitutional term limits on Nazarbayev 
because "his historic mission is far from being 
accomplished," and "strong presidential power is the chief 
guarantee of stability and democratic development." 
--------------------------------------------- - 
Ministry of Internal Affairs Drops a Bombshell 
--------------------------------------------- - 
5. (U) On May 23, the Ministry of Internal Affairs held a 
press conference in Astana to announce that a criminal case 
had been opened against Aliyev and his colleagues V. Koshlak 
and A. Bekbayev under Article 125.3 of the Criminal Code 
regarding the January 18-19 kidnapping of Nurbank officials 
Abilmazhen Gilimov and Zholdas Timraliyev.   Ministry 
spokesman Bagdat Kozhakhmetov also announced that a separate 
case under Article 125.3 had been opened and arrest warrants 
had been issued for five other individuals suspected in the 
January 31 disappearance of Timraliyev and his associate 
Aidar Hasenov.  Both men remain missing.  Kozhakhmetov stated 
that three other individuals were already in custody in 
relation to other crimes discovered during the investigation, 
including theft and organized criminal activity. 
6. (U)  Kozhakhmetov announced during the press conference 
that President Nazarbayev had personally ordered the 
Procurator General and the Minister of Internal Affairs to 
carry out the investigation into the Nurbank affair "in the 
most careful manner, without regard to profession or 
ASTANA 00001415  002 OF 003 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
And Allows Gilimov to Make Public His Allegations 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
7. (SBU)  Gilimov's brother Samat Gilimov held a press 
conference in Almaty on May 23 to make public additional 
allegations against Rakhat Aliyev.  He read from a two-page 
statement written by Abilmazhen Gilimov to the Medeo District 
Court judge hearing the case against him.  (Note:  Gilimov 
was arrested on February 14 by the Almaty Financial Police on 
 of illegal entrepreneurship, abuse of power, and 
inciting a conflict between Almaty police and bank security. 
He is being detained during the trial.  Many officers of the 
Financial Police are believed to be loyal to Aliyev, who 
headed the organization from 1997 to 1999.  End note.) 
8. (U)  In the statement, which has been posted at 
www.kub.kz., Gilimov claimed that he and Timraliyev were 
abducted by "Rakhat Aliyev and his people" on January 18-19. 
Gilimov claimed that Aliyev told the two men that they needed 
to go with him to Kiev on business, but instead took them to 
a building in Almaty where he handcuffed them, threatened 
them with a gun, and demanded shares of the businesses of all 
of their friends and family members who had received loans 
from Nurbank.  Aliyev wanted the owner of the Ken Dala 
business center in Almaty, where Nurbank is headquartered and 
who had received a $22 million loan from the bank, to 
transfer the property to him at no cost.  Gilimov said that 
Timraliyev called the owner, Bolat Abdullayev, to convey the 
9. (U) According to the statement, Gilimov managed to borrow 
a cell phone and call his wife to ask her to alert the 
authorities if he did not return home within an hour.  After 
he told Aliyev that the police were on the way, Aliyev then 
agreed to pay $34 million for the Ken Dala building, and 
"promised not to harass us further if we remain silent." 
Aliyev then released Gilimov and Timraliyev, only to fire 
them from Nurbank on January 22 and again demand title to the 
Ken Dala building for free.  At that point, Gilimov signed a 
resignation letter and documents transferring his 8% share in 
Nurbank to Aliyev's family.  Gilimov stated that he last 
heard from Timraliyev on January 31 when his former colleague 
called him to say that he had been summoned to Nurbank on 
10. (SBU)   The same evening as the press conference, Astana 
TV (owned by the "other" presidential son-in-law Timur 
Kulibayev) aired a ninety-minute tape of Gilimov detailing 
his allegations against Aliyev.  Gilimov did not say what day 
he made the recording, but it was apparently made while he 
was in detention.  AlmaTV, owned by Aliyev and Nazarbayeva, 
began to broadcast the tape but quickly interrupted the 
Foreign Minister to Ambassador 
11. (C)  Foreign Minister Tazhin summoned the Ambassador for 
an urgent meeting on May 24 to warn that Aliyev would hold a 
press conference that day in Vienna, where he was expected to 
"sling a lot of mud" at the Kazakhstani government and the 
reform process.  Tazhin asked that the U.S. be restrained in 
its reaction to Aliyev's comments.  He described President 
Nazarbayev's decision to publicly order the law enforcement 
authorities to investigate the case thoroughly and 
objectively as a clear sign of the importance Nazarbayev 
attaches to reforming the system and rooting out corruption. 
12. (C) Tazhin informed the Ambassador that Aliyev could not 
be stripped of his ambassadorial position until President 
Nazarbayev had made such a decision - which he (Tazhin) 
expected shortly.   In the meantime, he felt himself in an 
awkward situation with an ambassador in Vienna who was 
publicly criticizing the President and now under criminal 
charges.  Tazhin noted that while the President had been 
dealing with this behind the scenes, he had been actively 
engaged with the UNESCAP ministerial session in Almaty on May 
21.  Tazhin, who was seated with Nazarbayev at the head table 
with a gaggle of UN Under Secretaries General, said it was 
remarkable that the President displayed no signs of strain - 
actively participating in the conversation and engaging in 
extensive repartee with the other guests at his table.  The 
Ambassador, who was also present at the dinner, found 
ASTANA 00001415  003 OF 003 
Nazarbayev to be in an excellent mood as well. 
Comment:  Three Strikes and He's Out 
13. (C)  This is (at least) the third time that Aliyev's 
outrageous behavior has driven Nazarbayev to take drastic 
action.  In 2001 Aliyev was sent to "honorable exile" in 
Vienna for the first time after allegedly plotting to seize 
power.  Following Aliyev and Nazarbayeva's intense criticism 
of the government in the wake of the February 2006 murder of 
opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly, Aliyev was stripped 
of his post as Deputy Foreign Minister and sent back to 
Vienna, and Nazarbayeva's Asar party was folded into Otan. 
Given Aliyev's increasingly irrational behavior and his 
unprecedented public airing of grievances, which has shocked 
all levels of Kazakhstani society, this may well be the end 
of his public life in Kazakhstan.  Tazhin noted to the 
Ambassador that the public will be overwhelmingly with the 
President on this issue; we agree with his prediction. 
Moreover, even if Nazarbayev made this move only under 
extreme provocation, it will cast a serious, and perhaps 
long-lasting, chill on the actions of other relatives and 
associates who have long behaved with complete impunity in 
business and their personal lives.  When combined with the 
lifting of term limits, Nazarbayev's public rebuke of Aliyev 
should eliminate for the foreseeable future the unseemly 
maneuvering among the family and other elites to position 
themselves for a succession struggle. 


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