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Kazakh Opposition Leader Challenges President On Alleged Deal With China

Were any secret deals signed during Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's (left) China visit?
Were any secret deals signed during Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's (left) China visit?
ASTANA/ALMATY -- A Kazakh opposition leader is urging President Nursultan Nazarbaev to confirm or deny a report about an alleged deal he made in Beijing to lease Kazakh farmland to China, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Vladimir Kozlov, the leader of the unregistered Algha (Forward) opposition party, issued the statement today on his Facebook page.

On March 1, the opposition weekly "Respublika" printed an article citing Nazarbaev's former son-in-law, Rakhat Aliev, who wrote in his blog that Nazarbaev reached a deal with Chinese authorities during his trip to China last week under which Kazakhstan will lease 1 million hectares of land to China for a period of 99 years.

Aliev, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Europe since 2007, claims that according to the deal, China guarantees the security and safety of Nazarbaev, his family, and his property on China's Hainan Island and in Hong Kong.

Wan Yin Yin, a spokeswoman at the Chinese Embassy in Astana, told RFE/RL the embassy had no information about any kind of deal reached by Nazarbaev and the Chinese authorities regarding the leasing of land. She added that she had not read Aliev's article on the subject.

Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Asqar Abdrakhmanov told RFE/RL the ministry did not comment on such statements.

Foreign Ministry press secretary Ilyas Omarov told RFE/RL that Aliev's statement "does not correspond to the real situation."

Omarov said he personally read all the agreements signed by the Kazakh and Chinese sides during Nazarbaev's visit to China last week and that there was no such deal.

He added that in the 18 years he had worked for the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, he never "encountered situations where secret deals were made."

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