The Nazarbaevs Go Wild As Kazakhstan Burns

Kazakhs could be excused in recent weeks for think­ing they were stuck in a rerun of Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous — or per­haps the rich and infa­mous.

Kazakhstan’s long-serv­ing first pres­i­dent and still-in-con­trol elder states­man, Nursultan Nazarbaev, and some of his rel­a­tives have been mak­ing the news in a way that will cer­tain­ly not help the fam­i­ly’s rep­u­ta­tion.

Nazarbaev stepped down as pres­i­dent of the oil-rich coun­try in March after head­ing inde­pen­dent Kazakhstan for more than 27 years — and before that for more than two years as head of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Kazakhstan.

The for­mer steel­work­er amassed a for­tune dur­ing his reign, the gar­gan­tu­an size of which can only be guessed upon.

Among his rich­es, accord­ing to an October 9 report on the Metro news site, is a home on Billionaires Row, offi­cial­ly named The Bishops Avenue, in north London’s swanky Hampstead area.

The web­site says the home — pur­chased in 2008 for some 50 mil­lion pounds ($65 mil­lion), mak­ing it “one of the most expen­sive hous­es in the U.K.” — belongs to the “for­mer President of Kazakhstan Nursultan [Nazarbaev].”

That was not the only news of an amaz­ing prop­er­ty acqui­si­tion abroad involv­ing the Nazarbaev fam­i­ly that was in the news lately.

The Swiss mag­a­zine Bilan report­ed on August 21 that Nazarbaev’s sec­ond daugh­ter, Dinara, had acquired a cas­tle, the Chateau de Bellerive, near Geneva for some $63 million. 

The same arti­cle said Dinara had bought oth­er prop­er­ty in Switzerland worth some $75 mil­lion in 2009.

Dinara is mar­ried to Timur Kulibaev, one of Kazakhstan’s wealth­i­est busi­ness­men. Forbes mag­a­zine esti­mat­ed their com­bined wealth at $3.4 bil­lion.

Concerning the house on Billionaires Row in north London, it was in the report because it was one of sev­er­al extreme­ly expen­sive hous­es in that area that have inex­plic­a­bly been aban­doned by their own­ers and are slow­ly but sad­ly falling into ruin.

Drug-Fueled Bender

Moving along to a London court­room on October 18, Aisultan Nazarbaev, the 29-year-old grand­son of Kazakhstan’s first ruler, was on tri­al for cre­at­ing a dis­tur­bance at a London hotel on June 3 when he went out on the bal­cony of an eighth-floor room and threat­ened to jump.

Two days lat­er a woman called police after a man tried to enter her cen­tral London home from a bal­cony. It was Aisultan — who had already bro­ken into a neigh­bor­ing apart­ment and appar­ent­ly did some laun­dry as some of his clothes were found in the own­er’s wash­ing machine.

When police arrived at the apart­ment, Aisultan deeply bit into an offi­cer’s arm, forc­ing police to taser him. Aisultan’s defense attor­neys blamed a drug addic­tion for the inci­dents, which might also explain why Aisultan did not go to the near­by, emp­ty 50-mil­lion-pound home that his grand­fa­ther owns and run wild there.

The court gave Aisultan an 18-month sus­pend­ed prison sen­tence, fined him 1,000 pounds (some $1,300) for his pub­lic dis­tur­bances, and ordered him to pay 5,000 pounds ($6,500) more for dam­age to the first apart­ment he broke into. He was also ordered to per­form 140 hours of com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice and under­go treat­ment for drug addic­tion. Aisultan has report­ed­ly had a nar­cotics prob­lem for sev­er­al years.

He is the son of Nazarbaev’s eldest daugh­ter, Darigha, and her noto­ri­ous hus­band Rakhat Aliev, an over­ly ambi­tious man who ruth­less­ly acquired key busi­ness­es in Kazakhstan and, accord­ing to Kazakh pros­e­cu­tors, set his sights on depos­ing his father-in-law.

He was found dead in an Austrian prison cell in February 2015 in what was ruled a sui­cide but a death that many sus­pect involved foul play.

This is all news from out­side the bor­ders of Kazakhstan.

Lavish Circumcision Party

Back at home, the ex-pres­i­den­t’s younger broth­er, Bolat, caused quite a stir in social media cir­cles and else­where by hold­ing an incred­i­bly opu­lent cir­cum­ci­sion par­ty for one of his sons in the south­ern Shymkent area on October 17.

Video tak­en at the event shows Bolat Nazarbaev, 66, arriv­ing by heli­copter, where he is met by a large police escort that accom­pa­nies him from the land­ing site to the par­ty.

Police are clear­ly vis­i­ble pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty for the large event that had hun­dreds of guests.

In one clip, Bolat decides to reward some­one for some unknown deed and reach­es into his pock­et to reveal a fat pile of dol­lars from which he peels sev­er­al off and dis­trib­utes them gen­er­ous­ly.

While no one knows the exact source of Bolat’s incred­i­ble wealth, many found the big­ger prob­lem to be the use of at least two heli­copters and all of the police.

Who paid for all of that? If the answer is the state, it seems to be a very fla­grant abuse of gov­ern­ment mon­ey.

These instances are far from the first time there have been amaz­ing sto­ries about the Nazarbaev fam­i­ly’s incred­i­ble wealth and extrav­a­gant lifestyles.

But even though Nursultan Nazarbaev con­tin­ues to have a huge amount of pow­er in Kazakhstan, he is no longer the coun­try’s pres­i­dent.

Such rapac­i­ty may have been grudg­ing­ly tol­er­at­ed by Kazakhs for near­ly three decades, but protests over social and polit­i­cal con­di­tions have been grow­ing in 2019 at a con­sid­er­able pace.

Foreign hous­es worth mil­lions of dol­lars, pri­vate cir­cum­ci­sion par­ties paid for by the state, and drug ben­ders in London by a 29-year-old mem­ber of the pres­i­den­tial fam­i­ly are only increas­ing resent­ment with the cur­rent sta­tus quo in the ener­gy-rich country.

RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service contributed to this report.
Huge hat tip to Ryskeldi Satke (@RyskeldiSatke) for his seemingly tireless monitoring of the news in Central Asia, in this case the videos of Bolat Nazarbaev’s celebration.

Author: Bruce Pannier
Original source: AZATTYK RFE/RL