Ministers told to freeze Kazakh assets worth £600m after protesters gunned down

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat is call­ing for sanc­tions in the wake of a bru­tal crack­down ordered by pres­i­dent Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

Protesters clash with Kazakh police­men dur­ing ral­ly over a hike in ener­gy prices in Almaty, Kazakhstan CREDIT: ALEXANDER KUZNETSOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Ministers have been urged to freeze more than £600m of UK assets owned by Kazakhstan’s rul­ing elites after the country’s gov­ern­ment opened fire on pro­test­ers in the streets.

Amid vio­lent unrest over surg­ing ener­gy prices and cor­rup­tion, Kazakh pres­i­dent Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told sol­diers to “open fire with lethal force”.

The bru­tal crack­down has prompt­ed calls for the Government to con­sid­er sanc­tions on prop­er­ties and oth­er wealth held in the UK by the regime’s top fig­ures and their allies.

Sprawling man­sions in cen­tral London and Surrey are among the prop­er­ties owned by the Kazakh elite. Assets worth £370m are owned by the fam­i­ly of for­mer pres­i­dent Nursultan Nazarbayev, accord­ing to Transparency International.

Tom Tugendhat, the Tory MP who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Government should con­sid­er sanc­tion­ing such assets.

Those who vio­late the human rights of their cit­i­zens should not be able to enjoy the priv­i­lege of hold­ing wealth in the UK,” he said. “We need to be clear with the Kazakh elites that their actions will be scru­ti­nised and their assets are in jeopardy.”

Tory MP Andrew Murrison, a for­mer for­eign min­is­ter, also called for min­is­ters to be “far more robust” in their defence of pro-democ­ra­cy forces in the country.

Properties amassed by Kazakh elites include a man­sion on “billionaire’s row” in Hampstead, north London, owned by Dariga Nazarbayeva, a senior politi­cian and daugh­ter of Nazarbayev, and Nurali Aliyev, her son.

Meanwhile, Timur Kulibayev, a pow­er­ful gas oli­garch who is mar­ried to anoth­er of Nazarbayev’s daugh­ters, owns a sprawl­ing man­sion in Surrey. It is built on the site of Sunningwell Park, near Windsor Castle, that was bought from Prince Andrew for £15m.

Duncan Hames, direc­tor of pol­i­cy at Transparency International UK, said the true British prop­er­ty port­fo­lio of Kazakh fig­ures was like­ly to exceed £600m because some were con­cealed by com­pli­cat­ed own­er­ship structures.

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, has con­demned vio­lence in Kazakhstan but stopped short of promis­ing action.

Professor John Heathershaw, an expert in cen­tral Asia pol­i­tics at the University of Exeter, said: “The test for the British gov­ern­ment is … whether it’s will­ing to bring sanc­tions against mem­bers of the elite who may still have some influ­ence in a coun­try which regards us as an ally and where we are one of the top five trad­ing partners.”

Original source of arti­cle: https: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/

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