The Web Of Lies: Kazakhgate 1.0

In the late 1990s and ear­ly 2000s, a net­work was cre­at­ed in Belgium to dis­cred­it the so-called Trio formed of Patokh Chodiev, Alijan Ibragimov and Alexander Mashkevitch. The net­work was coor­di­nat­ed by Eric Van de Weghe, an exot­ic char­ac­ter con­nect­ed with intel­li­gence ser­vices and with the under­world of ex-Soviet oligarchs.

Today, mem­bers of the for­mer net­work, Van de Weghe includ­ed, are active­ly involved in the smear cam­paign against the same Trio. This strong­ly sug­gests that the net­work was reac­ti­vat­ed – to the ben­e­fit, as we shall see, of the Trio’s com­peti­tors in Kazakhstan.

Tractebel: Kazakhgate 1.0

The first scan­dal ever dubbed “Kazakhgate” by the Belgian media occurred in the late 1990s and ear­ly 2000s, and revolved around the part­ner­ship between Tractebel, a Belgian pow­er com­pa­ny, and the Trio made of Patokh Chodiev, Alijan Ibragimov and Alexander Mashkevitch.

Helped by the Trio, Tractebel entered the huge Kazakhstani mar­ket. The two par­ties formed a joint ven­ture, Almaty Power. Tractebel owned 55% of the joint ven­ture, while Chodiev, Ibragimov and Mashkevitch owned the rest of 45%.

In busi­ness, one’s suc­cess may prove some­body else’s loss, so a rival Kazakhstani oli­garch aimed to grab the Trio’s stake in Almaty Power. The rival’s name is Bulat Utemuratov, who was, and still is, the right hand of Kazakhstan’s strong­man, Nursultan Nazarbayev. (see here:

Utemuratov used Van de Weghe to cre­ate a Belgian net­work able to dis­cred­it Chodiev and his part­ners. (More about Eric Van de Weghe, here:

In August 1999, Utemuratov and Van de Weghe met at the Royal Hotel in Paris with Tractebel’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in order to per­suade them to help Utemuratov get the 45% of Almaty Power that were owned by the Trio. In return, Utemuratov was pre­pared to offer Tractebel safe pas­sage to Gazprom’s pipelines in Russia – and a Gazprom rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Gregory Lutchansky, was also present to con­firm that the Russian giant was pre­pared to sign a deal with Tractebel. (See here:,114497-ART)

Apart from Utemuratov, Van de Veghe and Lutchansky, the meet­ing was also attend­ed by Pierre Delilez, a Belgian cop spe­cial­ized on Russian Mafia, who used Van de Weghe as an informer, and by Shabtaï Kalmanowich, a for­mer KGB general.

The nego­ti­a­tions failed. However, Utemuratov and Van de Weghe con­vened to ini­ti­ate a smear cam­paign in Belgium against Chodiev and his asso­ciates, in an attempt to put pres­sure on Nazarbayev to con­fis­cate the Trio’s part in Almaty Power and to give it to Utemuratov.

To taint the rep­u­ta­tion of Chodiev, Ibragimov and Mashkevitch, Kalmanowich came with the idea to find offi­cial Belgian doc­u­ments prov­ing that the Trio was under judi­cial pros­e­cu­tion and that it was con­sid­ered a mafia group by the Belgian author­i­ties. (see here:

Five days after the meet­ing in Paris, Kalmanowich, Lutchansky, Delilez and Van de Weghe met again, this time in Brussels, at the Villa Lorraine.

The Belgian Team

Apart from Van de Weghe, whose job was to coor­di­nate the team and to pro­vide it with forged doc­u­ments in order to dis­cred­it Chodiev, the team com­prised at least one police offi­cer, Pierre Delilez, and at least two jour­nal­ists, Philippe Brewaeys and Alain Lallemand, both from Le Soir.

Delilez’s job was to search for secret doc­u­ments that could make Chodiev and his part­ners look bad. Utemuratov was to present these doc­u­ments to Nazarbayev, in order to per­suade him to get rid of Chodiev, Ibragimov and Mashkevitch. In the end, how­ev­er, Delilez was charged with cor­rup­tion and fired from the police (see here:

Brewaeys’ and Lallemand’s job, on the oth­er hand, was to start a media cam­paign against Chodiev using infor­ma­tion deliv­ered or forged for them by Van de Weghe. According to the Belgian mag­a­zine Medor, in September 1999 Van de Weghe sent a fax to Lutchansky, let­ting him know that neg­a­tive arti­cles on the Trio would be pub­lished in Belgium and France, specif­i­cal­ly in Le Soir.

The pletho­ra of arti­cles writ­ten by Lallemand back then against the Trio proves that he did his job well. He is the one who, for instance, pro­duced the sto­ry that Chodiev is con­nect­ed to the Russian mafia and/or KGB, and that he used unortho­dox means to acquire Belgian cit­i­zen­ship. Both these sto­ries were recent­ly reject­ed as fakes by the head of the Belgian intel­li­gence, when he tes­ti­fied before the so-called “Kazakhgate” com­mis­sion. However, Lallemand kept repeat­ing them for years and years.

In the end, it appears that Pierre Delilez refused to do the job that was expect­ed from him, so Van de Weghe prompt­ly attacked him in the media, accus­ing Delilez of being “the Russian mafia’s man.” As already men­tioned, this led to Delilez being fired from the police and accused of cor­rup­tion. Unsurprisingly, in the con­flict between Delilez and Van de Weghe, Lallemand stood by the lat­er, pub­licly acknowl­edg­ing that he based all his arti­cles on the Trio on the infor­ma­tion sup­plied to him by Van de Weghe. (see here:

Who is Bulat Utemuratov?

Utemuratov, 59 years old, is, for decades now, the right hand of Kazakhstan’s strong­man Nursultan Nazarbayev. He is one of the rich­est men in Kazakhstan (in 2017, Forbes mag­a­zine declared him the rich­est man in Kazakhstan, with a net worth of 2.3 bil­lion dol­lars), who made his for­tune by acquir­ing large parts of his country’s min­ing indus­try, and then sell­ing it to the Swiss min­ing giant Glencore.

By sell­ing his assets to Western com­pa­nies, he moved his for­tune out of Kazakhstan, thus putting him­self out of Nazarbayev’s reach.

He is also the head of the “nation­al­ist par­ty” of Kazakhstani oli­garchs, claim­ing that only those who have Kazakh nation­al­i­ty and were born in Kazakhstan have the right to own parts of the country’s econ­o­my. His aim, there­fore, is to push peo­ple like Chodiev, Ibragimov and Mashkevitch, who weren’t born in Kazakhstan, out of the country.

The idea that Chodiev is con­nect­ed with the Russian mafia and/or to KGB is spread by Utemuratov to dis­cred­it his rival, and stems from Utemuratov’s qua­si-fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy, accord­ing to which only those with “true Kazakh blood” have rights in Kazakhstan. Others, “the for­eign­ers,” are but “oppres­sors” who deprive the Kazakhstanis of their wealth.

From Kazakhgate 1.0 to Kazakhgate 2.0

Two of the team mem­bers that were used in the smear cam­paign against Chodiev and his part­ners in the first Kazakhgate scan­dal – Eric Van de Weghe and Alain Lallemand – are also heav­i­ly involved in the cur­rent Kazakhgate. Van de Weghe tes­ti­fied before the par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sion, while Lallemand is still recy­cling his decades old sto­ry of Chodiev as a cor­rupt Mafioso. This strong­ly sug­gests that the orig­i­nal net­work was reactivated.

The fact remains, though, that both Kazakhgate scan­dals are, in fact, just Kazakh bat­tles fought on Belgian soil. And some Belgian politi­cians and jour­nal­ists are help­ing, know­ing­ly or not, a Kazakh oli­garch with a nation­al­ist agen­da verg­ing to fas­cism to get rid of his non-Kazakh rivals. In the end, this is what it’s all about. And this is both iron­ic and sad for Belgium.

The Web Of Lies: Kazakhgate 1.0

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