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Kazakh Repats Demand Apology From President’s Son-in-Law

President Nursultan Nazarbaev's son-in-law Timur Kulibaev
President Nursultan Nazarbaev's son-in-law Timur Kulibaev
ALMATY, Kazkahstan -- Organizations representing Kazakh repatriates have added their voice to calls for Nursultan Nazarbaev's son-in-law to apologize for what they say are "insulting" comments, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Timur Kulibaev, who is married to Nazarbaev's second daughter Dinara and heads Kazakhstan's powerful Samruk-Qazyna fund, said on September 29 that the leaders of striking oil workers in the western Manghystau region are repatriates from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, implying that the strike should therefore not be taken seriously.

Repatriate organizations were insulted by the statement and the strikers in Manghystau also took issue with it, saying that none of them are repatriates. They, too, have demanded an apology.

Organizations representing the estimated 300,000 Kazakh repatriates gathered at the Rukh pen Til (Spirit and Language) club in Almaty on October 4 and decided to give Kulibaev one week to apologize.

Muratbek Oraz, a Kazakh repatriate from China's northwestern Xinjiang Province, said at the October 4 gathering that if Kulibaev does not apologize for his "intention to divide the Kazakh nation into locals and newcomers, we will have every right to sue him for igniting social hatred."

Talapbek Tynysbek, chairman of the young Kazakh repatriates' organization Zhezbuida, said Kazakh repatriates have the same rights as all other Kazakh citizens, and therefore "top officials should think twice before making statements similar to what Kulibaev said last week."

Tynysbek added that it is "ridiculous" to think that Kazakh repatriates could organize a large-scale strike, because it is impossible for them even to interest a couple of journalists in Almaty in their problems.

The leader of the Zhebeu (Support) public organization, Raqym Ayipuly, called Kulibaev's statement "political illiteracy."

Qazaqtanu (Kazakhology) public foundation President Ibrahim Qoshqari said it is wrong to regard Kazakh repatriates as divorced from Kazakh society as "we were not divided voluntarily, but due to the political situation in Eurasia."

Kazakhstan launched its repatriation program following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 to attract millions of ethnic Kazakhs living in Afghanistan, Europe, China, Mongolia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Russia, and Uzbekistan.

A Samruk-Qazyna representative refused to comment on the repatriates' demand that Kulibaev apologize, and asked RFE/RL to submit a written request for information.

Kulibaev has publicly denied the possibility of him succeeding Nazarbaev as president of Kazakhstan despite it being discussed often in the media in recent months.

Read more in Kazakh here