Accessibility links

Breaking News

Expanding The Nazarbaev Clan

Who will occupy the throne after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev?
Who will occupy the throne after Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev?
Nursultan Nazarbaev has ruled Kazakhstan since 1991 and his family controls much of the energy-rich Central Asian state's wealth. But even as the speculation as to who will succeed the 72-year-old as president continues to bubble under the surface, it seems his family is linking to other families of the petro-fueled elite in dynastic fashion.

Last month it was announced that the president's youngest grandson, 23-year-old Aisultan, is to be married. As Eurasianet reports, the bride has been identified as Alima Boranbaeva, the 20-year-old daughter of Kairat Boranbaev, who heads KazRosGaz, the gas-trading joint venture of the Russian and Kazakh state gas companies, Gazprom and KazMunaiGaz.

Boranbaeva is a student at London's Courtauld Institute of Art, where she studies art history. Aisultan Nazarbaev, for his part, attended Britain's prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, so perhaps they bumped into each other on the Tube.

Aisultan is the son of the president's eldest daughter, Darigha, who has positioned herself as a leading candidate to take over for her father. This despite the well-publicized falling out her ex-husband (and Aisultan's father), Rakhat Aliev, had with the Kazakh leader. Aliev now lives in self-exile in Malta and has been convicted of murder and other charges in absentia back home.

Also said to be in the running to succeed Nursultan Nazarbaev is the husband of Nazarbaev's second daughter, Dinara, Timur Kulibaev. Kulibaev's standing took a hit, at least on the surface, after he was fired as head of the Samruk-Qazyna sovereign wealth fund following the bloody riots in the western town of Zhanaozen by oil workers. He has also been named in a scandal involving the suspicious sale of an estate by Britain's Prince Andrew and faced media exposure for his ties to London socialite Goga Ashkenazi, including allegations that he is the father of her son.

Nazarbaev's third daughter, Aliya, has kept a relatively lower profile, though she has recently dabbled in laudatory films about her father. She did, however, take part in an even clearer attempt at dynastic alliance-building in 1998, through her short-lived marriage to the son of then-Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev. Akaev was ousted in 2005.

So is Aisultan Nazarbaev's marriage to the daughter of an energy baron likely to cement his mother's place as next in line to rule Kazakhstan? That's hard to say, but it does seem safe to predict that the next leader of Kazakhstan will never command the fawning adulation of the Great Leader himself, the author of 100 books whose likeness is immortalized all across the country and beyond.

-- Dan Wisniewski

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

Latest Posts