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Convicted Former Kazakh Official Gets Senior Job

Zhaksybek Kulekeev
Zhaksybek Kulekeev
ASTANA -- The convicted former head of Kazakhstan's national railway company has been appointed to a senior position with the state-owned oil and gas company KazMunaiGaz, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Zhaksybek Kulekeev, who was sacked in April 2008 as head of the rail carrier for taking bribes and sentenced on Novermber 13, 2008 to three years in prison on bribery charges, began working today as KazMunaiGaz's managing director of corporate development.

His conviction barred him from holding any public post for several years.

Kulekeev's lawyer, Salimzhan Musin, told RFE/RL that Kulekeev's new post does not violate the court ruling, since the institute is a joint-stock company and does not fit into the public-service category.

Kazakh opposition member Alikhan Ramazanov told RFE/RL that Kulekeev's loyalty to the government allowed him to gain his new appointment in a public company.

Ramazanov said that during the 2008 trial Kulekeev withheld details and names during testimony when he was charged with corruption, and "the government understood that [Kulekeev] will never betray them."

Opposition Ak Zhol party leader Alikhan Baymenov told RFE/RL that by appointing Kulekeev to this new job, the Kazakh government is admitting the case against him was phony.

Serik Abdrakhmanov, the deputy chairman of the pro-presidential party Nur-Otan, told RFE/RL he believes Kulekeev was the victim of an unfair judicial proceeding.

Kulekeev has worked previously for KazMunaiGaz and also served as Kazakhstan's education minister and the economy and trade minister.