ASTANA -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has appointed his nephew to head the National Security Service's (KNB) human resources department, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
The KNB spokesman Kenzhebulat Beknazarov told RFE/RL that Nazarbaev named Samat Abish to the post on December 29.
Beknazarov said Abish, a lieutenant-colonel, "is not just a random person."
He added that Abish, 32, graduated from the Russian Academy of Foreign Intelligence and had previously worked in the KNB.
Abish is the son of one of Nazarbaev's brothers. He was born in the Almaty region and has two higher education degrees.
Abish worked from 2006-2008 as deputy chairman of the registration service in the Justice Ministry, and has been a secretary in the ministry since October 2008.
Kazakh Communist Party leader Serikbolsyn Abdildin told RFE/RL that Abish's appointment proves that Nazarbaev wants to have "faithful" people in key positions. He said Nazarbaev considers loyalty more important than professional ability.
Ualikhan Kalizhan, a member of the presidential party Nur-Otan, told RFE/RL he has met Abish several times and considers him a good "specialist." He said he welcomes Abish's appointment and hopes it will improve the atmosphere in the KNB.
Kazakh opposition member Alikhan Ramazanov told RFE/RL he thinks Nazarbaev does not trust anyone and therefore has appointed "his own man" in the KNB.
The appointment of Nazarbaev's relatives to state positions is not uncommon. His nephew Kayrat Satybaldy (formerly Nazarbaev) and former son-in-law Rakhat Aliev have held important positions in the KNB.
In the late 1990s Kayrat Nazarbaev, then 30, was named deputy governor of Astana. He was later appointed to leading positions in the KNB and the oil company Kazakhoil.
At 35, Kayrat Nazarbaev received a major-general rank under a new surname, Satybaldy. Later, he left the military and worked in the state transport company, Kazakhstan Temir Joly.