ALMATY -- Kazakh officials have seized editions of at least five opposition and independent newspapers that contain an article alleging corruption by President Nursultan Nazarbaev's son-in-law, Timur Kulibaev, who is suing the newspapers, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
An Almaty district court ordered the seizure of the newspapers after Kulibaev filed a libel lawsuit against the publications "Respublika," "Golos Respubliki" (Voice of the Republic), "Vzglyad" (Glance), "Kursiv," and "Kursiv-News."
The court also banned any reports "damaging the dignity and honor of Timur Kulibaev." Kulibaev is an executive in many of Kazakhstan's energy-sector businesses.
All of the impounded newspapers had printed a statement by former Kazakh businessman Mukhtar Ablyazov, who accused Kulibaev of corruption on several websites last week.
Ablyazov, who left Kazakhstan for London in 2009 after his BTA Bank was taken over by the government, stated that he had sent open letters to Chinese President Hu Jintao, China's prosecutor-general, and the state security minister urging them to look into the companies involved in an allegedly corrupt deal with Kazakhstan.
Ablyazov claimed in the letter that when the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) agreed several years ago to buy shares of Kazakhstan's AqtobeMunayGaz oil and gas company, Kulibaev made CNPC create an offshore company.
Ablyazov said that 49 percent of the off-shore company's shares were sold to Darley Investment Services -- which is controlled by Kulibaev -- for $49. Ablyazov claims that CNPC and some of its branches then bought the shares back from Darley Investment Services for $165.9 million.