Monday, June 04, 2007

The Internship That Wasn't

The gentleman above is Rakhat Aliyev, son-in-law of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Aliyev has been quite influential in Kazakhstani politics for quite some time now holding numerous high-profile positions in government, and most recently having been the Kazakhstani ambassador to Austria and the OSCE. He and his wife were particularly noticeable on the Kazakhstani political field as, well, the field is pretty barren and he and his wife not only have major media holdings, but his wife until recently headed a high-profile pro-presidential party Asar (besides being a judge on the Kazakhstani version of American Idol).

Well, last week Aliyev was dismissed from his position as ambassador only to have international warrants for his arrest issued by the Kazakhstani government. You might ask yourself, what they hell happened? Well a few things. Aliyev had had clashes with the president before (tends to happen a bit more often when you want to be president yourself), though the officials grounds for the arrest was the abduction and presumed murder of at least one manager of the Kazakhstani Nurbank. The interesting thing is it seems that everybody already new about that and that Aliyev was responsible, it isn't really new, but back then Aliyev was still under the presidential shield. Family is very important in Kazakhstan.

So what really happened? Well in Kazakhstan they recently passed amendments to the constitutions. Most of it fairly standard stuff, strengthening the legislature a bit t0 appease Western critics and maybe win Kazakhstan the presidency of the OSCE (really symbolic in a country so overwhelmingly dominated by the executive). Well standard, except for one provision exempting the current president from any term limits. It is a but ridiculous as: A. The current president has been running Kazakhstan pretty much since the pre-independence days B. Just started another seven year term last year C. He will be well into his seventies by the the time he would need to be re-elected.

Well, presidential-hopeful Aliyev didn't like that so much and openly criticized the move. Shortly there after he found himself stripped of his post (and by extension his diplomatic immunity), and shortly after that on Kazakhstan's most wanted list before being taken into custody by Austrian authorities. His tv channel was shut down in Kazakhstan was shut down for three months (officially for violating the 50 percent Kazakh language content requirement), and he is applying for asylum status.

In any case, Aliyev was a pretty sleazy character know for his corruption and violence, refereed to in several news sources as one of Central Asia's most despised men (if you would like a counter argument to that you can look at this deligthfully biased wikipedia article, which pretty much credits him with every good thing ever to happen to Kazakhstan). He will probably patch things up again with Nazarbayev, and for the moment it has added quite the bit of excitement to usually controversyless Vienna.

What is interesting, is that I really wanted to do an internship at the Kazakhstani embassy here in Vienna. I like Kazakhstan, you know. It is a small mission and it would have been cool...if I would have been linked to a guy currently accused of murder and on Kazakhstan's black list.

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