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Exiled Kazakh Banker Warns Of Islamists, Urges Nazarbaev's Resignation

Exiled, former BTA Bank chief Mukhtar Ablyazov
Exiled, former BTA Bank chief Mukhtar Ablyazov
ASTANA -- The fugitive former chairman of Kazakhstan's BTA Bank has warned Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev of the threat of radical Islamic groups and called for his resignation, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Mukhtar Ablyazov issued his statement to Nazarbaev on July 14 from Britain, where Ablyazov was granted political asylum earlier this week.

In his statement, Ablyazov said that the internal political situation in Kazakhstan is worsening and new radical Islamic organizations are entering the political arena.

"Today, millions of people in Kazakhstan, mainly Kazakh-speaking, are forced into a kind of ghetto in their own country," he wrote.

"They are isolated from the world market due to a poor education, lack of knowledge of other languages, lack of a profession, and therefore work. They are doomed to lead a miserable life without any chance to move up the social ladder...The state does not care. What else can they do but seek refuge in religion?"

Ablyazov said in his statement that the persecution of religious movements leads to their radicalization. He said that attempts to suppress such movements leads to violence and can divide a country.

Ablyazov said if the hatred in society escalates, the country could face a "civil war between Nazarbaev and radical Islamic movements, in which Nazarbaev is doomed to lose."

The former leader of the Kazakh Communist Party, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, told RFE/RL he shares Ablyazov's concerns over the threats posed by a radical Islamic opposition.

Vladimir Kozlov, the leader of the unregistered Alga party, told RFE/RL that the emergence of radical religious movements has become an "unpleasant surprise" for the National Security Committee. He said he also agrees with Ablyazov that there is reason for concern.

Former parliament deputy Ualikhan Kaisarov told RFE/RL that a radical Islamic opposition has not yet formed in Kazakhstan, but one is quickly coalescing.

He said Nazarbaev does not realize the threat posed by radical religious groups and that his biggest mistake is that he is too confident in the power of his "repressive apparatus."

RFE/RL's attempts to get comment on Ablyazov's charges from the president's ruling party, Nur-Otan, and Azat Peruashev, leader of the pro-presidential party Ak-Jol, were unsuccessful.

Ablyazov is being sued by BTA in a U.K. court for alleged fraud worth $4 billion. In January, the Kazakh Prosecutor-General's Office requested that British authorities extradite him on separate charges.

Read more in Kazakh here

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