Kazakh ex-leader’s in-laws lose top energy jobs after unrest

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NUR-SULTAN (AFP) – Two relatives of Kazakhstan’s former president Nursultan Nazarbayev lost their jobs at the helm of energy companies, the sovereign wealth fund said on Saturday (Jan 15), after a deadly crisis laid bare a power struggle in the oil-rich country.

Dozens have died in unprecedented clashes between security forces and government opponents in Kazakhstan, an energy-rich post-Soviet nation that borders Russia and China.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev this week launched an unprecedented attack on Mr Nazarbayev – who handpicked him as a successor in 2019, saying his 81-year-old mentor had failed to share the Central Asian country’s vast wealth with ordinary Kazakhs.

Sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna said on Saturday that Mr Dimash Dosanov and Mr Kairat Sharipbayev had lost their jobs in charge of the national oil transporter KazTransOil and the national gas company QazaqGaz (formerly KazTransGas) respectively.

The decisions were made “in accordance with the decision of the board of directors”, the fund said, without further explanation.

Mr Sharipbayev, 58, is widely believed to be the husband of Mr Nazarbayev’s oldest daughter Dariga, 57.

Mr Dosanov, 40, is the husband of Mr Nazarbayev’s youngest daughter Aliya, 41.

Mr Tokayev also promised an overhaul of a private recycling monopoly tied to Aliya Nazarbayeva that activists say is responsible for a spike in car prices.

QazaqGaz was one of the companies that the Mr Tokayev blamed for the historic crisis that began with peaceful protests over a spike in prices for liquified petroleum gas, a popular fuel due to its affordability.

Mr Tokayev said the protests were hijacked by bandits and foreign militants and asked a Russia-led military bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, to send troops to the country.

The detachment of more than 2,000 soldiers started to withdraw on Thursday.

Mr Nazarbayev, whose presidency began before the breakup of the Soviet Union, is still recognised as Kazakhstan’s “Leader of the Nation” – a constitutional status that affords him immunity from prosecution and policymaking privileges.

Often referred to as Kazakhstan’s top decision-maker before the crisis began, he has not been seen in public since the end of last year.

Mr Nazarbayev has three daughters.

Middle daughter Dinara Kulibayeva’s husband, Mr Timur Kulibayev, is viewed as one of the country’s richest men with extensive interests in the energy sector. Together the pair control Kazakhstan’s largest commercial bank, Halyk.

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