Ex-UK PM Tony Blair Advised Kazakh President for Estimated $29.1 Mil

A series of leaked emails to British news­pa­per The Daily Mail reveals the depth of for­mer UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s advi­so­ry rela­tion­ship to the gov­ern­ment of Kazakhstan. Daily Mail reporters esti­mat­ed Kazakh President Nursultan Nazabayev spent more than £ 20 mil­lion (US$ 29.1 mil­lion) to secure Blair’s services.

Tony Blair (Photo: Center for American Progress)

Through his firm Tony Blair Associates, Blair has offered his ser­vices to President Nazarbayev for £ 5.3 mil­lion (US$ 7.7 mil­lion) a year, The Daily Mail said. Nazarbayev is accused of human rights abus­es, includ­ing the killing 15 pro­test­ers in 2011 and the rou­tine use of torture.

Blair has been sign­ing high­ly prof­itable con­sul­tan­cy deals in Kuwait, Qatar, Colombia, China and “a host of murky dic­ta­tor­ships” since leav­ing office in 2007, The Daily Mail report­ed. They are each prob­a­bly charged the same mul­ti­mil­lion pound fee per annum, accord­ing to esti­mates by Daily Mail reporters.

Blair denies per­son­al­ly prof­it­ing from his busi­ness deals in Kazakhstan, say­ing that the mon­ey goes to fund his char­i­ties. His office told The Daily Mail he helped to set up the advi­so­ry group but did not per­son­al­ly advise President Nazarbayev. However, leaked emails showed that Blair’s for­mer chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, con­tact­ed one of Nazarbayev’s aides in 2008, short­ly after Blair left office as Prime Minister.

He wrote Blair “would be hap­py to pro­vide pri­vate strate­gic advice to President Nazarbayev” and sug­gest­ed the two men should hold meet­ings every three to six months, begin­ning January 2009. Powell said they should dis­cuss inter­na­tion­al affairs and “the pro­posed nature of future coop­er­a­tion between Tony Blair and his team and President Nazarbayev and the gov­ern­ment of Kazakhstan.”

The Kazakh gov­ern­ment con­firmed Blair’s involve­ment after releas­ing a video of him sit­ting in a meet­ing with Nazarbayev in 2011, The Daily Mail report­ed. Only weeks after the meet­ing, Nazarbayev was con­demned inter­na­tion­al­ly for allow­ing police to open fire on unarmed pro­test­ers in Zhanaozen, a west­ern oil town. 15 were report­ed killed and over 100 injured.

Blair helped the regime by rewrit­ing a 2012 speech and per­son­al­ly advis­ing him to tack­le the human rights crit­i­cisms “head on,” The Daily Mail said. In a let­ter per­son­al­ized with a hand­writ­ten greet­ing to Nazarbayev, Blair tells the Kazakh pres­i­dent that it is the best way to han­dle Western media and signs off “With very best wish­es. I look for­ward to see­ing you in London. Yours ever, Tony Blair.”

He also saw and approved a let­ter to the European Union’s high rep­re­sen­ta­tive for for­eign affairs and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy, Baroness Ashton, spin­ning Kazakhstan as “a remark­able suc­cess sto­ry” and mak­ing a case for a stronger part­ner­ship with Europe, while down­play­ing the Zhanaozen mas­sacre, The Daily Mail reported.

In 2013, Tony Blair Associates aimed to extend its con­tract, which start­ed at £ 116,200 (US$ 170,000) a month, plus VAT. It lat­er rose to £ 1.84 mil­lion (US$ 2.68 mil­lion) a year, The Daily Mail said. Four per­son­al vis­its by Blair were guar­an­teed for £ 1.85 mil­lion (US$ 2.7 mil­lion). The ser­vice promised “unique insights and sup­port via per­son­al involve­ment of Tony Blair.”

The gov­ern­ment of Kazakhstan was respon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing flights, cater­ing and accom­mo­da­tion for Blair and his team, accord­ing to the leaked emails and doc­u­ments seen by The Daily Mail.

Since Blair began advis­ing the gov­ern­ment in Kazakhstan the coun­try has fall­en eight spots on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index and dropped 18 places on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, The Diplomat reported.

WRITTEN BY STELLA ROQUE

Ex-UK PM Tony Blair Advised Kazakh President for Estimated $29.1 Mil

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