Muhktar Ablyazov is a convicted criminal, currently on the run from justice in countries across the globe.
Contrary to his claims, he is not a “leader of the opposition” in Kazakhstan. He has no following, aside from a small number of individuals on his payroll. None of the Kazakh opposition leaders recognise Ablyazov as their leader.
Of the hundreds of independent media outlets in the country, the only ones which are supportive of him, happen to be on his payroll.
So aside from a few bought supporters and the media outlets on his payroll, no rational individual would conclude that Ablyazov is a dissident, let alone a “leader of the opposition”. He did not flee Kazakhstan as a political refugee, as he claims, but as a wanted fraudster, among other things
In 2009, he was accused embezzling an estimated $15 billion from Kazakhstan’s national bank, BTA, which he chaired. His criminality caused huge damage to thousands of the bank’s small shareholders.
Ablyazov was granted asylum in the United Kingdom, where he was subsequently pursued in the High Court for $4 billion of assets he was proved to have misappropriated – one of the biggest ever fraud cases brought before a British court.
The court sentenced Ablyazov to 22 months imprisonment for for contempt of court for attempting to conceal stolen assets and obstructing the investigation. He fled the country before he could be jailed. The judgement was upheld by Britain’s Supreme Court when he tried to appeal the decision.
(Russia and Ukraine also have outstanding warrants for his arrest on similar charges of financial crime.)
In July of this year, the Kazakhstan Prosecutor General’s Office announced they suspected Ablyazov had hired businessman Muratkhan Tokmadi to murder the then head of the Bank, Yerzhan Tatishev.
Tokmadi told prosecutors he had shot Tatishev on the orders of Ablyazov, who then took control of the bank.
Ablyazov has been defended by an organisation he provided funding for called the Open Dialogue Foundation, whose leader, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, was recently deported from Poland over her links to dodgy oligarchs and arms dealers.
Given the fact Ablyazov is a fugitive wanted in at least five different countries for crimes ranging from embezzlement of billions of dollars to conspiracy to commit murder, the last thing anyone should be calling him is a persecuted “leader of the opposition”.
In fact, Ablyazov actively benefited from the Kazak government, who gave him a ministerial position. It was only when he was caught stealing from his country he decided to claim he was an “opposition leader.”