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Kazakh Parties Demand Probe Into Alleged Corrupt China Deal

Timur Kulibaev, the Kazakh president's son-in-law
Timur Kulibaev, the Kazakh president's son-in-law
ALMATY -- Leaders from the Kazakh Communist Party and the unregistered Algha (Forward) party are demanding an immediate investigation into accusations of corruption by President Nursultan Nazarbaev's son-in-law, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Communist Party leader Serikbolsyn Abdildin and Algha party Chairman Vladimir Kozlov said in Almaty on February 3 that allegations last week by Mukhtar Ablyazov, the former chairman of Kazakhstan's BTA Bank, should not be ignored and an investigation should be launched.

Ablyazov, who left Kazakhstan for London in 2009 after his BTA Bank was taken over by the government, made his allegations in a statement on his website. He claimed that when the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) agreed several years ago to buy shares of Kazakhstan's AqtobeMunayGaz oil and gas company, Nazarbaev's son-in-law Timur Kulibaev made CNPC create an offshore company.

Ablyazov said 49 percent of the offshore 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.

Kulibaev is an executive in many of Kazakhstan's energy-related businesses and the husband of Nazarbaev's second daughter, Dinara.

On February 2, an Almaty district court ordered the seizure of several newspapers that printed Ablyazov's allegations. The court also banned the publishing of any reports "damaging the dignity and honor of Timur Kulibaev."

Independent Kazakh journalists said the court decision is an effort to put political pressure on them.

Kazakh journalist Sergei Duvanov said at a press conference in Almaty on February 3 that "prosecutors and courts in our country very often just implement political orders from above, ignoring the nation's major laws and repressing some media outlets."

Seitkazy Mataev, the chairman of Kazakhstan's Union of Journalists, said Kulibaev is a public figure and as a public leader he must accept that newspapers will write about him.

He said, "If a public leader does not want newspapers to write about him/her, he/she should be a beekeeper [instead]."