08ASTANA760, LIFESTYLES OF THE KAZAZHSTANI LEADERSHIP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA760 2008-04-17 10:35 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1604
PP RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHTA #0760/01 1081035
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171035Z APR 08 ZEL
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2248
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0478
RUCNCLS/SCA COLLECTIVE
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 0110
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 2159
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 0130
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1899

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000760 

SIPDIS 

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADD "CLASSIFIED BY" LINE 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/17/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PINR KZ
SUBJECT: LIFESTYLES OF THE KAZAZHSTANI LEADERSHIP 

ASTANA 00000760 001.4 OF 003 


CLASSIFIED BY POL/ECON CHIEF STEVEN FAGIN, REASONS 1.4 
(B) AND (D) 

------- 
Summary 
------- 

1. (C) Kazakhstan's political elites appear to enjoy typical 
hobbies -- such as travel, horseback riding, and skiing. Not 
surprisingly, however, they are able to indulge in their 
hobbies on a grand scale, whether flying Elton John to 
Kazakhstan for a concert or trading domestic property for a 
palace in the United Arab Emirates. This cable recounts 
several instances in which Embassy officers have learned of, 
or witnessed, the recreational habits of Kazakhstan's 
leaders. End Summary. 

-------------- 
Sun and Horses 
-------------- 

2. (C) President Nazarbayev, like many of his countrymen, has 
a strong affinity for horses. In 2007, emboff visited the 
presidential horse farm with the daughter of the farm's 
manager. The farm is located on the outskirts of Astana in a 
residential area, but is surrounded by a high-fence and 
security guards. Inside the gates are a large stable, indoor 
and outdoor riding arenas, and a clubhouse with a pool table, 
sauna, and exercise room. Emboff toured the stable and saw 
approximately forty horses from various parts of the world. 
Emboff's companion told him that Nazarbayev visits the horse 
farm on occasion, though not too frequently. She said that 
Nazarbayev's wife -- Sara Nazarbayeva -- never accompanies 
him, but claimed that sometimes his "second wife" comes to 
the horse farm. (Comment: Most Kazakhstanis are familiar 
with the rumor that Nazarbayev has a "second wife," a former 
airline stewardess, who is said by some to reside in London. 
More recently, there have been whispers that Nazarbayev has 
yet a "third wife," a former beauty queen. We have no 
concrete information about either relationship, although 
Taszhargan, an opposition newspaper, printed a sympathetic 
article about Sara Nazarbayeva which expounded on her status 
as Nazarbayev's "co-wife." End Comment.) 

3. (C) Nazarbayev is also fond of traveling to warmer climes 
in the region. The UAE Ambassador told emboff that Nazarbayev 
had traded property in Borovoe -- a mountainous resort area 
of Kazakhstan north of Astana and sometimes likened to 
Switzerland -- for a "palace" in the Emirates. He did not 
make clear whether the transaction was a permanent 
arrangement or only a temporary one. The head of Turkey's 
liaison office in Astana, Orhan Isik, told emboff that 
Nazarbayev has a mansion in Antaliya, which he visits 4-5 
times a year. Isik claimed that Nazarbayev received the 
property as a gift in the early 1990's and now plans to use 
part of the land for the construction of a luxury hotel. 

------------------------ 
Dancing at the Nightclub 
------------------------ 

4. (C) On March 7, two days after his trip to the U.S. was 
cancelled, Prime Minister Masimov was spotted by emboff at 
Chocolat, one of Astana's trendiest nightclubs. Masimov 
entered at approximately 11:30 pm, accompanied by 
Presidential Administration head Kairat Kelimbetov, Astana 
mayor Askar Mamin, three middle-aged Kazakh women (presumably 
their wives), and a security detail. Although the club 
offers a VIP area, Masimov chose to sit at a table in full 
view of all of the club's patrons. Emboff lingered close to 
Masimov's group and saw several bottles of alcohol on the 
table. (Note: Another emboff had seen the group drinking 
earlier in the evening at a cigar bar at the Radisson Hotel, 
which is located in the same complex as Chocolat. End Note.) 
Masimov led his companions on to Chocolat's dance floor soon 
after their arrival. The dance floor holds approximately 100 
people, and at the time perhaps 50 patrons were dancing. 
However, Masimov himself chose to dance on an empty stage 
above the dance floor. His companions quickly tired but 
Masimov remained, dancing alone and animatedly on the stage 
for another 15-20 minutes. At approximately 1:00 am, Masimov 
and his retinue left the club. 

------------------------- 
Skiing with the Oligarchs 
------------------------- 

5. (C) In September 2007, Kazakhstani oligarch Aleksandr 
Mashkevich -- the co-founder of metals and mining giant 
Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation and, according to 

ASTANA 00000760 002.4 OF 003 


CLASSIFIED BY POL/ECON CHIEF STEVEN FAGIN, REASONS 1.4 
(B) AND (D) 

Forbes magazine, the 334th wealthiest man in the world -- 
hosted a dinner at his house in Almaty for two visiting U.S. 
congressmen. Only two Kazakhstanis attended the event, State 
Secretary Kanat Saudabayev and his assistant. Judging from 

SIPDIS 
the friendly banter between Saudabayev and Mashkevich, the 
two have a quite cordial personal relationship. Mashkevich 
told a lengthy anecdote about a ski vacation that he and 
Saudabayev had taken together in Europe. 

6. (C) Saudabayev had hosted a codel
at that same Almaty 
residence in 2005, without Mashkevich in attendance. At that 
time, when the Ambassador asked Saudabayev whose house it 
was, he would only say that it belonged to "a friend." 
Saudabayev has twice hosted visiting USG officials for a meal 
at Mashkevich's Astana residence -- both times without 
Mashkevich. It is not clear what Mashkevich is spending his 
billions on, but it is certainly not culinary talent. On all 
four occasions the Ambassador has eaten at one of his houses, 
the menu has been similar and focused on beshparmak (boiled 
meat and noodles) and plov. The wait staff appeared to be 
graduates of a Soviet cafeteria training academy. The wine, 
at least, was somewhat upscale with reasonably good French 
vintage bottles uncorked for the guests. The Astana 
residence has wooden plaques on the doors that would fit in 
nicely in a Wyoming hunting lodge but are somewhat out of 
touch with the upscale "Euro-remont" that is so popular among 
the Kazakhstani elite. 

------------------------------- 
Private Concerts with the Stars 
------------------------------- 

7. (C) In 2007, President Nazarbayev's son-in-law, Timur 
Kulibayev, celebrated his 41st birthday in grand style. At a 
small venue in Almaty, he hosted a private concert with some 
of Russia's biggest pop-stars. The headliner, however, was 
Elton John, to whom he reportedly paid one million pounds for 
this one-time appearance. (Note: The British Ambassador 
relayed a slightly different story, with an unknown but 
obviously well-heeled friend arranging and paying for Sir 
Elton's gig. End Comment.) There have been separate 
reports that Nelly Furtado performed at the August 2007 
birthday bash for Kulibayev's wife, Dinara Nazarbayeva. 
Kulibayev also appears willing to spend his fortune on 
others. According to Turkish diplomat Isik, when the 
Kempinski group recently built luxury villas in Bodrum, 
Turkey, Kulibayev bought up a number of them -- at a cost of 
4-5 million dollars each -- and doled them out as gifts to 
friends and family. 

----------------------- 
Sports and Politics Mix 
----------------------- 

8. (C) Sports and politics mixed seamlessly in Almaty on 
April 2, when some of Kazakhstan's most prominent political 
figures participated in the Beijing Olympics torch relay. 
Torchbearers included President Nazarbayev, Presidential 
Administration business affairs head Bolat Utemuratov, Nur 
Otan party first deputy chairman Adilbek Dzhaksybekov, and 
Agency for the Regulation of Natural Monopolies head Mazhit 
Yesenbayev. All of these bigwigs, except Nazarbayev himself, 
could justify their participation in the relay based not on 
their high-ranking political offices, but rather on their 
prominent official positions in the Kazakhstani sports world. 
Utemeratov just happens to head Kazakhstan's Tennis 
Federation, while Dzhakysbekov chairs the Football Federation 
-- a position previously held by ex-Nazarbayev son-in-law 
Rakhat Aliyev. Yesenbayev heads the Judo Federation. 
KazMunayGaz chairman Uzakbay Karabalin, who heads the Boxing 
Federation, and Nazarbayev son-in-law Timur Kulibayev, who 
heads the Golf Federation, also shared in the glory of 
carrying the Olympic torch. One prominent sport federation 
president who missed the torch call was Defense Minister 
Daniyal Akhmetov. He is head of the scandal-ridden Cycling 
Federation that sponsored a team in last year's Tour de 
France which flunked the drug test. 

----------------------------------- 
Relaxation the Good, Old Soviet Way 
----------------------------------- 

9. (C) Kazakhstan's political elites also have recreational 
tastes that are not so exotic. Some, in fact, prefer to 
relax the old-fashioned way. Defense Minister Akhmetov, a 
self-proclaimed workaholic, appears to enjoy loosening up in 
the tried and true "homo sovieticus" style -- i.e., drinking 

ASTANA 00000760 003.4 OF 003 


CLASSIFIED BY POL/ECON CHIEF STEVEN FAGIN, REASONS 1.4 
(B) AND (D) 

oneself into a stupor. While most of our accounts of 
Akhmetov's indulgences with the bottle are hearsay, we do 
have "eyes on" for one episode which supports the rumors. In 
June 2007, Akhmetov showed up in grand form for a meeting 
with a visiting senior U.S. Defense Department official. 
Making no attempt to conceal his condition -- slouching back 
in his chair and slurring all kinds of Russian participles -- 
Akhmetov explained to this very senior guest that he had just 
been at a cadet graduation reception "toasting Kazakhstan's 
newly-commissioned officers." Who was toasted more -- the 
Defense Minister or the cadets -- is a matter of pure 
speculation. Akhmetov's excesses do not solely extend to the 
bottle. An insider at Astana's Radisson Hotel recently told 
us about preparations for the unbelievably lavish and 
expensive wedding of Akhmetov's son. In the Kazakh 
tradition, the parents of the groom are responsible for the 
wedding -- so it would seem that Akhmetov must have footed 
the bill. 
ORDWAY

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