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Rakhat Aliev, Imprisoned Former Kazakh Diplomat, Found Dead In Austria

Rakhat Aliev, a former son-in-law of the Kazakh president turned prominent government critic, was found dead in a jail in Vienna on February 24. Aliev was being held on murder charges, which he had dismissed as politically motivated. Austrian authorities have said his death appears to be a suicide, but Aliev's lawyer has voiced doubts and called for a "very thorough" investigation. Here are some photographs from a life full of controversy.

In the early 2000s, Rakhat Aliev was one of the most influential politicians in Kazakhstan. Trained as a physician, Aliev served as the deputy chief of the National Security Committee and later as the deputy commander of the presidential guard. In 2002, he was unexpectedly sent into "honorable exile" as the Kazakh ambassador to Austria.
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In the early 2000s, Rakhat Aliev was one of the most influential politicians in Kazakhstan. Trained as a physician, Aliev served as the deputy chief of the National Security Committee and later as the deputy commander of the presidential guard. In 2002, he was unexpectedly sent into "honorable exile" as the Kazakh ambassador to Austria.

Rakhat Aliev (top right) with his wife, Darigha Nazarbaeva (top center), the eldest daughter of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (center), in 1992.
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Rakhat Aliev (top right) with his wife, Darigha Nazarbaeva (top center), the eldest daughter of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (center), in 1992.

Aliev poses with diplomats in 2004. While serving as the Kazakh ambassador to Austria, he actively pushed for Kazakhstan to take over the chairmanship of the OSCE, which it achieved in 2010.
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Aliev poses with diplomats in 2004. While serving as the Kazakh ambassador to Austria, he actively pushed for Kazakhstan to take over the chairmanship of the OSCE, which it achieved in 2010.

After returning to Kazakhstan in 2005, Aliev was appointed deputy foreign minister.
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After returning to Kazakhstan in 2005, Aliev was appointed deputy foreign minister.

In 2007, the Kazakh Interior Ministry launched an investigation into Aliev, accusing him of involvement in the abduction of two Kazakh bankers, who were later found dead. Aliev was also charged in absentia with coordinating the activities of a criminal group. He called the charges politically motivated, and said he was being persecuted for his plans to run in the 2012 presidential election.
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In 2007, the Kazakh Interior Ministry launched an investigation into Aliev, accusing him of involvement in the abduction of two Kazakh bankers, who were later found dead. Aliev was also charged in absentia with coordinating the activities of a criminal group. He called the charges politically motivated, and said he was being persecuted for his plans to run in the 2012 presidential election.

Aliev and Darigha Nazarbaeva had two sons and a daughter. After charges were made against Aliev, a court annulled the couple's marriage in his absence.
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Aliev and Darigha Nazarbaeva had two sons and a daughter. After charges were made against Aliev, a court annulled the couple's marriage in his absence.

After the scandal known as "Rakhatgate," Darigha Nazarbaeva withdrew from Kazakhstan's political scene. She returned in 2012, when she was elected to parliament as a member of the ruling Nur Otan party led by her father, President Nursultan Nazarbaev. In the same time frame, Nazarbaeva told the media she had no contact with her former husband.
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After the scandal known as "Rakhatgate," Darigha Nazarbaeva withdrew from Kazakhstan's political scene. She returned in 2012, when she was elected to parliament as a member of the ruling Nur Otan party led by her father, President Nursultan Nazarbaev. In the same time frame, Nazarbaeva told the media she had no contact with her former husband.

Aliev's father, Mukhtar (left), President Nursultan Nazarbaev, Rakhat Aliev, and Sara Nazarbaeva in a photo predating the criminal charges. While Aliev remained in Austria, Kazakh authorities unsuccessfully requested his extradition. Kazakh officials later added new charges of plotting o overthrow the government and organizing the murder of an opposition leader in 2006.
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Aliev's father, Mukhtar (left), President Nursultan Nazarbaev, Rakhat Aliev, and Sara Nazarbaeva in a photo predating the criminal charges. While Aliev remained in Austria, Kazakh authorities unsuccessfully requested his extradition. Kazakh officials later added new charges of plotting o overthrow the government and organizing the murder of an opposition leader in 2006.

While in Austria, Aliev published a book titled "Godfather-In-Law," in which he revealed what he claimed to be the inner workings of Kazakh politics. Kazakh authorities banned the book and introduced a criminal penalty for distributing it.
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While in Austria, Aliev published a book titled "Godfather-In-Law," in which he revealed what he claimed to be the inner workings of Kazakh politics. Kazakh authorities banned the book and introduced a criminal penalty for distributing it.

Aliev and his father-in-law in 2001. In June 2014, Aliev was arrested in Vienna. His lawyers said he had turned himself in. Austrian authorities charged him with involvement in the killings of two Kazakh bankers in 2007.
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Aliev and his father-in-law in 2001. In June 2014, Aliev was arrested in Vienna. His lawyers said he had turned himself in. Austrian authorities charged him with involvement in the killings of two Kazakh bankers in 2007.

Aliev's father, Mukhtar, died in Almaty last month. On February 23, Rakhat Aliev posted a letter online addressed to his late father, in which he said he was sorry he was unable to "fulfill a son's duty" to attend the funeral.
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Aliev's father, Mukhtar, died in Almaty last month. On February 23, Rakhat Aliev posted a letter online addressed to his late father, in which he said he was sorry he was unable to "fulfill a son's duty" to attend the funeral.

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