By Kevin Holland
Aset Nurzhaubay, a Kazakh activist who worked for fugitive banker Mukhtar Ablyazov at his Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) organisation, believes that it was in fact Ablyazov who tipped off police leading to his arrest. Ablyazov remains at large in France and is wanted for a multi-billion dollar embezzlement and murder.
Nurzhaubay, 30, spoke to cameras to tell his side of the story and to counter claims he had given testimony under duress. He admits he was initially attracted by DVK and got in contact with Ablyazov. He would scrawl pro-DVK graffiti around Almaty and send Ablyazov videos of his exploits. Ablyazov would then post them to social media to support his anti-Kazakh-government agenda.
Nurzhaubay maintains he carried out his operations in an extremely secure manner, covering his face and taking comprehensive measures to leave no digital paper trail. The tip off to police, he maintains, came from Ablyazov himself. He was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for participating in the banned DVK movement plus apparently stealing from his co-habitant.
He detailed how Ablyazov had hung him out to dry, gave him no lawyer, as his prosecution would be useful to Ablyazov’s fake PR narrative. Ablyazov and his associates were quick to make the most of Nurzhaubay’s arrest. His narrative portraying himself as a persecuted politician, rather than a prosecuted large-scale fraudster, needs victims to successful lobby MEPs to ultimately try to avoid deportation. Analysts have suggested that Ablyazov actually requires a steady number of supporters to be arrested in Kazakhstan, and that this is an overall strategy to help his image in Europe. As with all of Ablyazov’s strategic ideas, this tactic imitates legitimate Russian cases.
Ablyazov was filmed laughing along with Lyudmyla Kozlovska, the head of the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF), about the arrest of Iskander Yerimbetov. There has been speculation that Ablyazov similarly tipped off Kazakh authorities to arrest Yerimbetov so he could become an unwilling martyr for his cause. Yerimbetov’s sister Bota Jardemalie has been a long-term Brussels-based enabler for Ablyazov and, as planned, the arrest has reinvigorated her work for him.
Nurzhaubay said Ablyazov is not to be trusted, and that he was solely interested in himself and his own schemes and survival: “We are used as “cannon fodder” in order to help lobby the European Parliament.”
Pressure is mounting in Europe over ODF’s funding as it looks more likely that it is potentially funded by the proceeds of crime, ultimately originating from money stolen and laundered by its clients Veaceslav Platon and Mukhtar Ablyazov.