Wednesday, September 03, 2014


British Royals Under Fire -- Again -- For Ties To Kazakh Oligarchy

Britain's Prince Harry is no stranger to press controversy. (file photo)
Britain's Prince Harry is no stranger to press controversy. (file photo)
The British royal family has come under fire after Prince Harry, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth, accepted a luxury ski trip to Kazakhstan sponsored by a close associate of President Nursultan Nazarbaev.
Twenty-nine-year-old Harry and his girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, took a four-day trip to the oil-rich Central Asian nation this week, enjoying heli-skiing, gourmet mountaintop meals, and chairs lined with warm fur blankets.
Britain's " Daily Mail" newspaper reports that the trip was paid for by Burak Oymen, a Turkish-born property developer and the son of senior Turkish politician Onur Oymen.
Burak Oymen and his business partner, Serzhan Zhumashov, have built a number of luxury properties in Kazakhstan. Both men are considered to be close to the Kazakh president.
Buckingham Palace has defended Harry's trip as a "private" holiday, but Amnesty International has condemned the visit, accusing the Queen's grandson of ignoring Kazakhstan's record of brutal rights violations.
"[Harry] might want to spare a thought for the people who aren't going to be sharing the slopes with him," said Amnesty spokesman Allan Hogarth. "Kazakhstan is a repressive country where torture is rife and political opposition is crushed."
It is not the first intersection between Britain's royal family and the Kazakh elite. Harry's uncle, Prince Andrew, came under scrutiny in 2010 when it emerged that he had sold a country house to Timur Kulibaev, a Kazakh billionaire and Nazarbaev's son-in-law.
The purchase of the 600-acre Sunninghill Park estate was notable because Kulibaev, who spent $28.5 million to buy the house, paid nearly $6 million more than the asking price -- fueling suspicion the purchase was more a favor than a simple real-estate transaction. The house, run-down to begin with, remains unoccupied.
Andrew has also been photographed repeatedly with Goga Ashkenazi, a wealthy Kazakh socialite who was also Kulibaev's mistress. The couple had two children together, a fact that did not appear to disrupt Kulibaev's marriage to Nazarbaev's middle daughter, Dinara.
Ashkenazi, for her part, has said she "loves" Prince Andrew.
The apparent coziness between the royal family and the Kazakh elite extends to Britain's top political figures. The firm of former Prime Minister Tony Blair was paid $13 million dollars to serve as a special adviser to Nazarbaev, a deal that earned him jeers from the rights community.
Nazarbaev, who sits atop one of the world's richest sources of oil, gas, and minerals, has courted favor with Western leaders in an attempt to transform his post-Soviet country into an international power.
But its rights record continues to deteriorate, with Human Rights Watch noting in its 2014 global report growing crackdowns on free speech and public assembly, political prosecutions, and the continued use of police torture.

How Well Do You Know Prince Harry?

-- Daisy Sindelar
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: ymous anon from: usa
March 28, 2014 11:01
I am sick of the British Monarchy. They are one of the wealthyist families in the world for doing next to nothing. And much of their wealth comes from the UK tax payers. The British economy has so much wealth disparity, more homelessness, no hours contracts, etc. Its obscene that in a country with terrible human rights: "Twenty-nine-year-old Harry and his girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, took a four-day trip to the oil-rich Central Asian nation this week, enjoying heli-skiing, gourmet mountaintop meals, and chairs lined with warm fur blankets." And all this private money making by the royals and new labour war monger Tony Blair is disgusting.

UK should cut the monarchy down to size something like the royals in the Netherlands.

by: Freddie from: Des Moines, Iowa
March 28, 2014 15:30
Another article selectively ignoring the progress Kazakhstan has made to transition away from the Soviet systems. Kazakhstan was unanimously elected to the UN Human Rights Council in 2012. Why no mention of that? Go visit KZ and see for yourself, as I have.
In Response

by: LivingInKZ from: Astana, Kazakhstan
March 29, 2014 06:22
Freddie, that's all a load of bull. I've been living in KZ for a year and a half and the "progress" isn't what it seems to be. Of course things are better than they were 20 years ago, but at what cost? There is NO freedom of speech, NO freedom of press and NO political opposition (opposition parties have been revealed to be funded by the ruling Nur Otan party, so as to create the illusion of opposition).

Also, the ruling party (Nur Otan) pays millions of dollars each year for companies to find articles just like this and make comments just like yours. There are tons of companies (operating in many different languages) which are paid to cover up the human rights abuses and to spread propaganda through comments and social networks.

Journalists and bloggers are being detained and jailed each week for commenting on the government; protesters are beaten by police and sometimes even disappear.

Your comment just shows that you received the "expat" treatment and never saw the REAL side of Kazakhstan, so just shut up.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 29, 2014 06:45
One day we'll see Prince Harry singing "Happy birthday to you, Mr President" to Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. EU and NATO politics is all about values, you know :-)).

by: london Lad from: london
March 31, 2014 00:07

Harry is FOURTH in line to the throne:

Prince Charles
Prince William
Prince GEORGE (son of above)
Prince Harry

In Response

by: Moderator
March 31, 2014 05:42
Thank you for your comment, which is perfectly valid. The quiz was actually compiled BEFORE the birth of George, but it has now been updated to reflect the change in the line of succession.

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