Media & Opinion Review

08/05/2013

Media & Opinion Review


05 August 2013


 


Overview


 


·        'Trojan horse' raid ends 18-month hunt for Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov


·        Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry on statements of Italian politicians following deportation of Mr. Ablyazov’s wife


·        Kazakhstan: Jailed Opposition Leader Loses Legal Battle


·        Conspiracy Theorists Get To Work On Giant Google Maps Kazakhstan Pentagram- But Has The Mystery Been Explained?


·        Aliyev accusers make new request for action by police


·        Kazakhstan ready to provide site for Iran-P5+1 talks


 


 


Analysis


 


International outlets, including The Independent, Associated Press (AP), The Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Euronews continue the coverage of Mukhtar Ablyazov’s arrest. The Independent, AP, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail focus on the role of Ukrainian lawyer Olena Tyshchenko in leading the private investigators to Ablyazov’s villa in France. Sam Marsden writes in The Telegraph: “Private detectives hired by BTA spent months hunting him before the Ukrainian lawyer unwittingly took them to his hideout on the Riviera, where he had been flitting between three palatial rented properties.” Euronews reports on Amnesty International’s concern that Ablyazov would be at “risk of torture and an unfair trial” if extradited to Kazakhstan.


 


TengriNews cites Zhanbolat Ussenov, a spokesman of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, regarding the relationship between Kazakhstan and Italy following “statements made by some public figures”. Ussenov is quoted as saying: “Kazakhstan and Italy enjoy a high level of cooperation. It’s a pity Italian media have unfolded an anti-Kazakhstan campaign which bears signs of a third party’s involvement.”


 


EurasiaNet and Radio Free Europe report on the Supreme Court’s decision to reject Vladmir Kozlov’s motion to open a supervisory review of his case, which would have examined the legal rulings handed down to see if he got a fair trial. EurasiaNet writes that the “National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Freedom House found violations of due process during the trial to be rife, leading NDI to compare proceedings to a ‘Stalin-era political trial’.”


 


A pentagram etched on the southern shore of the Upper Tobol reservoir has attracted international media attention after a Google Maps image was widely shared by bloggers. The story was picked up by international media, including Yahoo, The Huffington Post, The Telegraph, and the New York Daily News.


 


 


Summaries


 


 


1.      Mukhtar Ablyazov


 


'Trojan horse' raid ends 18-month hunt for Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov


Summary: The officers who entered the main building quickly found the Kazakh businessman, accused of one of the world's biggest frauds, seated at his computer, unaware of his imminent arrest. Ablyazov, arrested on an Interpol warrant, is now facing extradition from France to Ukraine, where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of banking fraud. The dramatic final moments of Ablyazov's arrest emerged yesterday in France as full details of the 18-month hunt for him after he fled Britain last year were revealed. Ablyazov was hunted by British private detectives when he fled the country after the High Court sentenced him to prison for contempt of court. BTA bank fought to get the money returned through a series of civil court battles, opposed at every stage by the businessman, who claimed he was the victim of political persecution as a result of his opposition to Kazakhstan's autocratic President, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The banker, whose country's elite has grown wealthy on the proceeds of vast oil and gas reserves, insists he is the target of a political conspiracy after he left his post as energy minister and became a prominent opponent of Mr Nazarbayev. Kazakh prosecutors have described him as the head of an extremist, criminal conspiracy bent on "seizing power by inciting civil strife and hatred". The British private detectives tracked down the missing banker after following a Ukrainian lawyer, Olena Tyshchenko, from the High Court in London, where she sought an adjournment of legal proceedings to seize Ablyazov's assets. Ms Tyshchenko, who lives with her children in the luxurious private St George's Hill estate in Surrey, was then trailed to the south of France, where she was spotted meeting Ablyazov in a waterfront villa in Miramar. According to legal sources, the British detectives were unaware of Ablyazov's presence until he was spotted in his boxer shorts placing flowers in a vase and rearranging the bed before closing the curtains. The properties were kept under observation, and the financier's personal staff later led investigators to another, more secluded property north of Cannes in the village of Mouans-Sartoux. The villa, where French police eventually arrested him last week, is close to where Ms Tyshchenko also owns property. While Ablyazov was kept under surveillance, Ms Tyshchenko was followed to Moscow, where she secured a divorce from her husband Sergei, a Ukrainian banker. Ms Tsychenko then returned to the south of France, where she socialised with Ablyazov. Ablyazov, who appeared in court in Aix-en-Provence, is expected to apply for release from detention this week. Legal sources said the Ablyazov investigation had been led by the British corporate intelligence firm Diligence. When approached, a company spokeswoman said it had a policy of not confirming or denying its involvement with projects or the identity of clients.


International: The Independent, AP


 


Lawyer who proved to be fugitive oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov's downfall


Summary: Walking down the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice in London in the hazy evening heat, the blonde Ukrainian lawyer was looking forward to getting back to her villa in the south of France. She caught a taxi to Heathrow, where she did some shopping before catching a flight to Nice. However, Olena Tyshchenko had no idea that all the while she was she was being trailed by private detectives, whom she led to the fugitive Kazakh billionaire Mukhtar Ablyazov. Ablyazov, who successfully claimed asylum in Britain before fleeing last year after the High Court sentenced him to prison for contempt of court, was arrested at his six-bedroom villa near Cannes on Wednesday. A leading member of the opposition to Kazakhstan’s president, he has been accused in a series of civil actions in London of embezzling $6billion (£3.9billion) from his native country’s BTA Bank. Private detectives hired by BTA spent months hunting him before the Ukrainian lawyer unwittingly took them to his hideout on the Riviera, where he had been flitting between three palatial rented properties. On Monday July 22, Mrs Tyshchenko attended a High Court hearing in London relating to assets that BTA is attempting to recover from Mr Ablyazov, a source with knowledge of the investigators’ operation said. The judge granted her application for an adjournment, and she left the court building just before 6pm to travel back to the south of France, arriving at the villa where she was staying with her children at 1.30am. She left an hour later, driving herself to the Villa Neptune in Miramar, where investigators spotted Ablyazov through a window, rearranging a bed in his underwear. Mrs Tyshchenko left the villa at about midday but returned later the same day. Ablyazov’s car was seen leaving Villa Neptune on the evening of July 26 and driving to the Villa Saint Basile in Mougils. Mrs Tyshchenko visited him there and stayed the night. On Monday, BTA contacted the French authorities, pointing out that the oligarch was wanted by Ukraine for allegations of fraud and was subject to an Interpol “red notice”. The next day Ablyazov travelled to a third villa, the Chemin de Castellaras in Mouans-Sartoux. It was here that 15 police officers mounted a raid on Wednesday as a helicopter equipped with thermal image cameras hovered overhead in case the oligarch tried to flee into the forest. In the end Ablyazov, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, came quietly and was arrested at just before 2pm. He appeared in court in Aix-en-Provence on Thursday and was detained pending extradition proceedings.


International: The Telegraph, Daily Mail


 


Human rights groups urge France not to extradite Ablyazov due to Kazakhstan ‘repression’


Summary: Human rights campaigners have called on France not to extradite the Kazakh oligarch and dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov, who was detained in the south of the country on Wednesday. One group lobbied the French consul at Almaty in Kazakhstan, where he is accused of embezzling the equivalent of 4.5 billion euros. Activists believe the charges against the opponent of the president are politically motivated. “We tried to explain the main underlying motives for this political persecution – namely relations between President Nazarbayev and Ablyazov. We stressed the point that it’s a personal feud which is taking the form of mass political repressions in Kazakhstan,” said human rights activist Bakhytzhan Taregozhina, reading from the text of the letter to the French consul. Amnesty International believes that if Ablyazov ends up back in Kazakhstan he would be at risk of torture and an unfair trial. The former head of BTA Bank is also accused of large-scale fraud in Russia and Ukraine, which has issued a warrant for his arrest. His family fear Ukraine may hand him over to Kazakhstan if he is expelled from France. Amnesty says extraditions between the former Soviet republics often violate human rights. French legal sources said the extradition proceedings could take several months as judges would require proof from Ukraine that it had grounds for filing charges against him.


International: Euronews


 


Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry on statements of Italian politicians following deportation of Mr. Ablyazov’s wife


Summary: The anti-Kazakhstan campaign in Italian media that unfolded following the urgent deportation of Ms. Alma Shalabayeva, the wife of BTA’s ex-chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov, bears some signs of some interested parties involved, Zhanbolat Ussenov, a spokesman of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, said July 5. “Everyone must have seen speculations over how the relationship between Kazakhstan and Italy might develop, over statements made by some public figures. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry has been approached by some media with questions on how the ties between the two nations will be developing given public statements made by Italian politicians (…) For the two-year-long period of bilateral relations, Kazakhstan and Italy have been fruitfully interacting across a wide range of cooperation; the cooperation has entered the level of strategic partnership. Kazakhstan still sees the partnership in the same vein”, Mr. Ussenov said. According to him, Kazakhstan has never received any formal information confirming that Italy regards the relationship with Kazakhstan as somewhat other than a strategic partnership. “Media reports of low estimates of Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Italy and of the bilateral relations as a whole reportedly made by some Italian politicians made the Kazakh side surprised (…) Kazakhstan and Italy enjoy a high level of cooperation. It’s a pity Italian media have unfolded an anti-Kazakhstan campaign which bears signs of a third party’s involvement”, the spokesman said. He emphasized “the country’s Foreign Ministry believes the media reports will have no impact on the bilateral relations of the two nations”. “At the same time we believe politicians and officials should be more responsible when it comes to public statements and assessments of bilateral relations and of other nations’ foreign policies. As far as the work of Andrian Yelemessov, Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Italy, is concerned, the Kazakh Ministry believes he had been properly performing his job duties. He exercised no illegitimate pressure on Italy’s law enforcement bodies or any other public bodies”, Mr. Ussenov assured. He also briefed on the Ambassador’s meeting with reps of the Italy’s Five Star Movement. “The Minister made it known to the fraction that Ms. Shalabayeva is under a recognizance not to leave Almaty as she is subject to investigation into allegedly illegal obtainment of fake passports for herself and some of her relatives. But she is free to move around Almaty. Almaty was her own choice”, he said. He also reminded that the Kazakhstan’s General Prosecutor Office had earlier announced that the country’s legislation allows Ms. Shalabayeva to ask for a permit to leave Kazakhstan on bail should she guarantee that she will be available for the country’s law enforcement bodies if need be over the investigation into illegal obtainment of fake passports.


Regional: TengriNews


 


 


2.      Vladimir Kozlov


 


Kazakhstan: Jailed Opposition Leader Loses Legal Battle


Summary: Kazakhstan’s Supreme Court has denied jailed opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov a review of his controversial trial and imprisonment, a case widely condemned as legally flawed and politically motivated. Kozlov was jailed in October 2012 for seven and a half years on charges of seeking to overthrow the administration of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and stoking fatal unrest in the town of Zhanaozen in December 2011, which left 15 dead when security forces fired on unarmed protestors.  “The circus is over, the judges have pronounced their decision – there are no grounds for opening a supervisory review,” Kozlov’s wife Aliya Turusbekova wrote on her Facebook page after the Supreme Court ruling on August 5, which effectively put an end to Kozlov’s legal battle. Kozlov has argued that he only engaged in legitimate political opposition and is a scapegoat for the Zhanaozen violence, while Astana rejects claims of political motivation in his case. Kozlov’s appeal against his conviction was turned down last November. Today’s Supreme Court decision rejected his motion to open a supervisory review, which would have examined the legal rulings handed down in the case to see if he got a fair trial. Independent monitors from US-based organizations such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Freedom House found violations of due process during the trial to be rife, leading NDI to compare proceedings to a “Stalin-era political trial.”  Kozlov’s conviction sparked an outcry among international human rights campaigners, and an expression of “concern” from the US embassy in Kazakhstan at “the apparent use of the criminal system to silence opposition voices.”


International: EurasiaNet, RFE/RL


 


 


3.      Mystery Pentagram


 


Conspiracy Theorists Get To Work On Giant Google Maps Kazakhstan Pentagram- But Has The Mystery Been Explained?


Summary: A 1,200ft pentagram has been photographed etched into the ground in a remote corner of Kazakhstan. The sign – which is often associated, thought not exclusively with black magic, devil worship and paganism – has baffled scientists. It is situated on the southern shore of the Upper Tobol reservoir – more than 12 miles from the nearest city. Conspiracy theorists have been chomping at the bit, with Vigilant Citizen claiming significance in the fact the pentagram is shown to be inverted on Google Maps (which uses North-South orientation). “In symbolism, an inverted figure always suggests a perverted power,” it says, citing 33rd Degree Freemason and expert in occult symbolism Manly P Hall. The site adds: “A few days ago, when one would zoom into the pentagram with Google Maps, two strange locations would pop up, one named ‘Adam’ and another ‘Lucifier’. However, since the story came out on the web, these locations disappeared and zooming into the pentagram is now disabled.” Another theory, voiced by Kurt Yates, from Seattle, Washington, is that the symbol is an abandoned surface to air missile site. Writing on LiveScience, he explained: “I was a military pilot and these things are all over the place in areas that use(d) Russian (Soviet) air defence systems." One woman believes she has solved the mystery, however. “It is the outline of a park made in the form of a star,” archaeologist Emma Usmanova, who has spent years working in the area, tells LiveScience. The star was a popular symbol during the Soviet era and were often used throughout the Soviet Union to decorate building facades, flags and monuments, NBC News points out. A less sober analysis can be found on the website of controversial conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones -- Infowars -- which picked up on what it calls the "occult" symbol. The Infowars article offers a detailed explanation of how the pentagram is used in ritualistic magic and resembles the logo of the Church of Satan. Its story points out that "Russia used a five-pointed star as one of its symbols, not a pentagram inside a circle."


International: Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Daily Telegraph, Yahoo News, RFE/RL, Discovery Newa, Al Arabyia, DisInfo, The Inquisitr, KPop Starz


 


 


4.      Rakhat Aliyev


 


Aliyev accusers make new request for action by police


Summary: Two men who claimed to have been tortured and framed by Kazakh millionaire Rakhat Aliyev, who is self-exiled in Malta, have filed a fresh complaint asking Maltese police to investigate their allegations against him. “Aliyev is trying to create the impression that he is a democrat and an opponent of dictatorship. This is a ridiculous falsehood. For as long as he was able, he remained one of the most vicious butchers of democracy in Kazakhstan,” the men told The Sunday Times of Malta. Pyotr Afanasenko and Satzhan Ibraev, two former bodyguards of Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, have been unsuccessfully pursuing Mr Aliyev for years in Austria and now in Malta – where he moved in 2010 – making the case that he had personally had them arrested and tortured in a bid to extract a false statement against their former boss. At the time of this alleged incident, which took place in the late 1990s, Mr Aliyev was the son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s authoritarian President Nursultan Nazarbayev and acted as deputy chief of the country’s secret service. He eventually fell out with Nazarbayev and fled Kazakhstan, claiming threats to his life after he declared himself a candidate for the presidential seat. But the bodyguards insist that before this falling out, Mr Aliyev was paving the way for this move with plans to get rid of rivals such as Mr Kazhegeldin. “Aliyev said this directly during questioning in his office in early December 1999, after we were suddenly arrested and imprisoned. He assured us that if we signed a false confession saying we had held the weapons and explosives on the orders of Akezhan Kazhegeldin, we would be released immediately. As officers and men of honour we refused his offer,” the men said. “He then tortured us, personally beating one of us while handcuffed (Ibraev) and drugging the other (Afanasenko), threatening us that our wives would be attacked and our children taken into care if we did not cooperate.” The men were eventually convicted and sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on what they claim to be trumped up charges of aiding an attempted coup. “While we were incarcerated Aliyev did not stop his attempts to get us to give false evidence. Our lives were threatened and we were subjected to beatings and psychological torture during the years we were in prison.” Aided by German human rights lawyer Lothar de Maizière, the men have been trying to get Mr Aliyev to face court proceedings in Austria and Malta but so far have met with little success.


International: Times of Malta


 


 


5.      Iran


 


Iran's new President greets visiting dignitaries (Video)


Summary: Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani welcomes senior politicians from various countries who were invited to attend his swearing-in ceremony at the Majlis in Tehran. Mr Rouhani, a moderate cleric, won Iran's presidential election on July 14 by garnering 50.7 per cent of the votes. He succeeds the outgoing hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and inherit from him an ailing economy and a troubled foreign policy. Mr Rouhani took his presidential oath at a ceremony attended by various heads of state and government from 50 countries. They included Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi and the Vice President of Iraq, Khodair al-Khozaei. The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and the President of Tajikistan, Emomalii Rahmon also attended.


International: The Telegraph


 


Nazarbayev arrives in the Islamic Republic of Iran


Summary: President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev has arrived in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the press service of Akorda informs. During the visit Nursultan Nazarbayev is planning to take part in the inauguration ceremony of Hassan Rouhani, a newly elected President of Iran. In particular, it is expected that Nursultan Nazarebayev will participate in a photo session of the guest heads of other states, as well as in leaving a note in the guest book. Bilateral talks are also in the schedule.


Regional: Times of Central Asia


 


Kazakhstan ready to provide site for Iran-P5+1 talks


Summary: Kazakhstan is ready to provide a site for the talks between Teheran and the P5+1 group (U.S., China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany) on the Iranian nuclear program, Kazakh presidential press-service reported. Such a statement was made by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the meeting with new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday. During the meeting the parties discussed the issue of settlement of the situation around the Iranian nuclear program, and Nazarbayev said Kazakhstan is ready to take active participation in this process. Nazarbayev and Rouhani also discussed prospects of bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas. In particular they stressed the need of expanding using transit-transport potential of the two countries. The parties also discussed actual issues of the international agenda. The West, led by the United States, has imposed sanctions against Iran, accusing Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program.


Regional: Trend News Agency


 


 


6.      Military


 


Kazakhstan, U.S. and UK to hold joint peacekeeping exercise


Summary: The armed forces of Kazakhstan, U.S. and UK will hold joint peacekeeping exercise Steppe Eagle on August 10, official representative of the Central Communications Service under Kazakh President Altai Abibullayev said on Monday, Novosti-Kazakhstan reported. The exercise will be held in Kazakhstan, not far from the city of Almaty. The Steppe eagle exercise is aimed at implementation of the individual action and partnership plan between Kazakhstan and NATO signed on January 31, 2006 and is a part of Partnership for Peace program between Kazakhstan and NATO. "The exercises are aimed at improving the practical skills of the military staff, development solutions to perform peacekeeping operations, organizing military operations, increasing military units coordination while carrying out peacekeeping operations in the conflict between the possible opposing parties, as well as developing high moral and psychological qualities and physical endurance among the servicemen", Abibullayev said.


Regional: Trend News Agency


 


 


7.      Terrorism


 


Financial monitoring unveiles 360 case of terrorism financing in Kazakhstan


Summary: Financial Monitoring Commission of Kazakhstan Finance Ministry has revealed 360 cases of financing of terrorism, Tengrinews.kz reports citing the Commission’s chairman Mussiraly Utebayev as saying at the briefing. “Over 700 thousand messages have received in relation to operations of subjects of financial monitoring since the beginning of the year as part of the effort to collect and process information on operations with money and other property subject to financial monitoring. 560 thousand of them were threshold transactions, over 130 thousand were suspicious and 360 were related to terrorism financing. After processing and analysis of the messages, 126 cases were transferred for further investigations and actions to the state and law-enforcement authorities in line with their competencies,” Utebayev said. According to him, the Commission is a division of Kazakhstan’s financial surveillance system and its proper operation requires interaction with financial surveillance authorities of other countries and international organizations.


Regional: TengriNews


 


 


8.      Baikonur


 


Russia to resume Proton rocket launches from Baikonur in September


Summary: Russia will resume Proton-M rocket launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in September, RIA Novosti quoted Russian Federal Space Agency's deputy head Alexander Lopatin as saying. "The first launch will take place when we complete all necessary measures, probably in September," Lopatin told reporters. Proton-M carrier rocket with three Glonass-M Russian navigation satellites fell on July 2 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome one minute after the start. The Emergency Commission investigating the incident concluded that the incident was provoked by incorrectly installed angular rate sensors.


Regional: Trend News Agency


 


 


9.      Business & Finance


 


Kazakhstan Kagazy appointed Mr Tony Baldry as new chairman


Summary: Mr Tony Baldry has been elected the new chairman of the board of directors of Kazakhstan Kagazy Plc. Mr Baldry succeeds Mr John Khabbaz, who has chosen to step down as chairman. Mr Baldry has been a UK member of parliament for 30 years and also served as minister of state for 8 years in the governments of both John Major and Margaret Thatcher. The company said that "In a further move to strengthen the Kazakhstan Kagazy board, the company also announced the appointment of Sarosh Zaiwalla as a non-executive director to the company. Sarosh Zaiwalla is senior partner at leading London law firm, Zaiwalla & Co and is an internationally recognized arbitrator."


International: Steel Guru


 


 


10.