Remnants of the Nazarbayev era unite to slip into the wagon of the new Kazakhstan. For some time all the affected parties forgot the feud and began the cleansing campaign. It’s outright ridiculous how politicians, journalists and oligarchs who praised the ‘Leader of the nation’ just a few weeks ago have switched to criticising the ‘regime’ and cautiously applauding president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev politics. Timur Kulibayev, dictator’s son-in-law is among those who try to get to the other side.
The problem: an universal demand for change isn’t compatible with Timur Kulibayev’s dominance
The nation is in desperate demand for changes. Ruled by the kleptocracy for the last thirty years Kazakhstan achieved almost nothing in terms of human development, justice and the rule of law. The laws, society considered, are written for the ‘commoners’ and Nazarbayev’s relatives are beyond the reach. And the relatives used it for they own benefit.
Timur Kulibayev, the richest of them, ruled several most important state monopolies – while having conducted outrageous financial violations. There are a bunch of wrongdoings, but some are definitely worth mentioning – the Vitol affair, where Kulibayev gained a share of profits in exchange of unfavourable for the state, but lucrative for the company contract; the pipeline skimming where Kulibayev sold to Kazakhstan overpriced pipes. And the really funny case when the major state company, headed by Timur Kulibayev, has bought Kulibayev’s own company. It wasn’t the best kept secret for Kazakhstanis and investigative journalists.
Tidemarine and other service companies and accomplices
Moreover, Timur Kulibayev has not acted alone. In fact, he gathered a group of minor oligarchs accomplices, who built a real worldwide money laundering network. Daniyar Abulgazin and Dias Suleymenov are mentioned in this case, as well as some companies they created. Tidemarine and other offshores and semi-offshores are working against the clock to provide worry-free money to the group. Tidermarine is viewed as a very important structure in the kleptocracy world.
The Nazarbayev’s son-in-law group is quite resilient: the three are occupiying the chairs in the National Olympic Committee too.
Timur Kulibayev’s wealth totally depended on the absolute power of his wife’s father, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The heavyweight leader’s authority was engaged to fend off any international efforts to bring Timur Kulibayev to justice. The triumph of this politics was a dissolution of the criminal case against Kulibayev in Switzerland. It was a peak of the shame for all the international justice. People see oligarch’s lavish palaces around the world, including in the United Kingdom and Switzerland, and memorise it as a symbol of the era. This is a legacy which isn’t easy to overcome.
Tokayev can’t ignore Kulibayev control over the banking system
President Tokayev, who gained full control after massive protests against oligarchic rule, calls to justified approach to the wealth distribution. That poses danger to the Nazarbayev family and the associates. There are rumours, that some of the closest allies of the ex-president are already interviewed and asked to voluntary give away their wealth in exchange of freedom. We don’t know if Kulibayev also was subject of such ‘interviews’. He already lost presidency over the influential “Atameken” trade union.
Tokayev isn’t interested in total extermination of the Nazarbayev’s party. His reasons are simple: he wants to show people that he distanced from the clan and that his call to greater justice is not an empty demagoguery. In-country assets are designated as likely targets. Kulibayev is the owner of the biggest bank in the country, Halyq.
In a semi-open meeting with major businessman of Kazakhstan president Tokayev gave exactly one month to oligarchic community to ‘rethink their policies’ in favour of sharing resources with the nation. There are many important things president said at the meeting: he promised zero tolerance to corruption, for example. In one month we’ll see if he was serious about it.