On September 27, 2021, Ratel.kz published a resonant article titled «Astana LRT: Former Company’s CEO and Deputy Akim of the Capital Absent from International Wanted List». We at KZ.expert believe it to be a most powerful gut-punch directed both at Akorda and the Library. Moreover, this gut-punch seems to be not only expected but unavoidable.
We are not going to retell and recite the publication. We will only register what the attorneys of one of the accused parties have found out: the two main figures of this criminal case, namely ex-CEO of Astana LRT Talgat Arden and former deputy akim of Astana Kanat Sultanbekov, are not wanted beyond the Kazakh borders. Not wanted at all.
In order for something like this to happen, a top political decision has to be made. In other words, that of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. Nothing else is possible within the framework of the Kazakh realia. In view of this, a legitimate question arises — what has made him turn a blind eye to not only the failure of such an important and costly project but the gigantic financial and reputation losses as well?
You don’t have to go too far to find an answer to this question. He would do so in order to save one of his closest relatives or allies.
However, neither Kanat Sultanbekov (deemed the main culprit by the investigators) nor Talgat Arden belongs to that category. Therefore, these two, even if guilty, are performing the part of scapegoats. And it is very likely that the former is doing this as part of a certain agreement.
In order to prove our hypothesis, let us stipulate that it is by no means the first time that Mr. Sultanbekov is successfully avoiding a criminal punishment for his wrongdoings.
Here is a quote from our publication of February 13, 2018, titled «Who Stood Up for Sultanbekov?»:
«On February 2, 2018, the Judicial Division for Criminal Cases of the Kazakhstan Military Court made a sensational decision to exchange the prison term for big monetary fines and to execute an immediate release of Kanat Sultanbekov, the former Deputy Chairman of the Kazakhstan Engineering National Company, and of Gil Smolinski (one of his accomplices).
Why do we consider this decision sensational?
First, here is the list of the people convicted (apart from Sultanbekov and Smolinski) in connection to this criminal case: Mukhtar Karabekov, Head of the Center of the Military Representative Offices at the Defense Ministry, Aybek Bekturganov, Director of the Kazlegprom-Almaty company, Arsen Tolemisov, Head of the Central Warehouse at the Defense Ministry, Girmen Bisenov, President of the Uralskagroremmash company, Kanat Baykadamov, Lieutenant Colonel of Military Unit 14776 at the Defense Ministry, Malik Syzdykov, Vice CEO of the Kazakhstanskaya Aviatsionnaya Industria company, Mberekrehim Gabdul-Kabirov, Head of Center 10 of the Military Representative Offices at the Defense Ministry.
Apart from Sultanbekov and Gil, only two of these people had their sentences reduced but, nonetheless, remained behind bars».
«Judging by the prosecutorial materials and the gravity of the first sentence, it was Kanat Sultanbekov who primarily stood behind organizing the corruption schemes. However, it was, once again, Kanat Sultanbekov who got released earlier than anyone else.
Second, the monetary fine that Sultanbekov now must pay instead of serving time in prison turned out to be only twice as big as the amount of the bribes he had taken».
«We cannot remember another effective sentence inflicted on the high-rank corrupt officials where the fine would be so small. Usually, the Kazakhstan courts sentence former officials and the managers of the quasi-state agencies to paying the fines several dozen times as big as the amounts of the bribes they took.
The irrationality of the Judicial Division for Criminal Cases’ decision (both legal and political) is so obvious that the Head of the agency Zhandos Musabekuly was forced to give a special explanation as to why the sentencing had been changed».
You will recall that, back then, we arrived at the following conclusions:
«The reasons for Kanat Sultanbekov’s defender (s) to act the way they do, to us, are quite obvious:
first, they are saving a member of their clan because it is customary for Kazakhstan;
second, it is possible they are saving themselves since the accused may start talking as it has happened before in our country’s history;
third, they are instilling confidence in their allies;
fourth, they are showing their political power to the competing groups».
When Kanat Sultanbekov received the blessing of Akorda, he disappeared from the public eye and his name would only be mentioned in connection with a next Astana LRT scandal.
Here is a quote form our publication of December 16, 2019, titled «The Undercurrents of the Astana LRT Case»:
«The high-profile scandal surrounding the Astana LRT project has entered a new stage. And judging by how the events are unfolding, Kazakhstan’s Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary to Russia Imangali Tasmagambetov may also find himself under fire together with Secretary of the Nur-Sultan Maslikhat Zhanat Nurpiisov, former Deputy Governor of Astana Kanat Sultanbekov and other suspects.
Let us remind you that Kanat Sultanbekov used to be (and probably still is) considered Imangali Tasmagambetov’s ally which clearly follows from his professional biography. And, as the information provided by our sources shows, the previous arrest of Kanat Sultanbekov and the guilty verdict that followed was, to a large extent, a result of the efforts of those who wished to push Imangali Tasmagambetov onto political sideways.
To confirm this idea, we will remind you of the „amazing“ time coincidence. When, in February 2017, Kanat Sultanbekov was arrested (and not by the police or the Anti-Corruption Agency but by the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan), Imangali Tasmagambetov suddenly received and accepted (!!!) the post of Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Russia. Based on the information provided by the same sources, Tasmagambetov, at the time, played a rather significant role in Saltynbekov’s fate when, instead of spending 10 years in prison, the latter’s term lasted for one year only after which he left the prison colony having paid the record-setting fee of 2.1 bln tenge to the state budget.
And here is another „amazing“ time coincidence. In December 2019, Imangali Tasmagambetov turned 63 after which social networks started the talks that he is soon to be pensioned off. Simultaneously, the scandal surrounding Astana PRT is intensifying and Kanat Sultanbekov becomes the main figurant of the related criminal case».
In this publication, we have drawn the following conclusion:
«Now, after the lapse of two years, there can be no doubt that this verdict was reached not in the court chambers but in Akorda and was a result of the deal struck between Nursultan Nazarbayev and Imangali Tasmagambetov.
We cannot disclose all the information we have in our possession, first of all, due to the fact that is has not been confirmed by documents and, second, because we do not wish to harm the people that have given it to us. However, we can state with certainty that the deal was mutually beneficial and, judging by the later turn of events, was a part of the preparations for the start of the power transition in the country.
So, it is very likely that the opening of the new criminal case against Kanat Sultanbekov is but another stage of exerting pressure on Imangali Tasmagambetov albeit not for the purpose of pensioning him off but rather for the purpose of forcing him to abandon politics entirely and, when he retires, to abandon the unions with the current opponents of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan as well».
Now then, it looks like we have been mistaken. That is to say that the transaction between Nursultan Nazarbayev and Imangali Tasmagambetov did take place albeit, from today’s perspective, the picture looks a little different.
In order to soft-pedal the scandalous case and, most importantly, divert the public attention, Akorda and the Library needed a convincing organised criminal group whose members would later be deemed scapegoats. However, the producers of this political show seemed to have begun experiencing some difficulties — they needed a high-rank official to blame; at the same time, they would’t dare to sent a former Astana akim and a member of the government to the defendant’s bench.
Enter Kanat Sultanbekov who, after his conviction and the subsequent unvindicated release in Kazakhstan, was left with nothing.
There can be no doubt that Imangali Tasmagambetov was in charge of the negotiations with Kanat Sultanbekov since the latter was his man. And it was Tasmagambetov who was behind Sultanbekov’s early release.
We do not know exactly what they were negotiating about and what agreements they had reached, however, the former deputy akim of Astana did not express any public protest against being sent to the defendant’s bench in absentia.
The question of whom Mr. Sultanbekov together with Talgat Ardan were protecting is not particularly difficult. We at KZ.expert believe that the First President’s daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva and her eldest son Nurali Aliyev are precisely whose close relatives that Nursultan Nazarbayev didn’t allow to sent to the defendant’s bench.
Here is a quote from our publication of October 20, 2020, «Crabs in a Barrel, or LRT’s Evil Genuis»:
«The thing is that, according to our insiders, there is little chance for Kanat Sultanbekov and Talgat Ardan whom the Kazakh authorities have declared international fugitives to be detained abroad and extradited to Kazakhstan in the nearest future. And not because the Kazakh Public Prosecution Office and the Anticorruption Agency are not going to try but because, today, it will not be for the Library’s benefit.
Not only due to the fact that the über-expensive and the über-scandalous project of constructing the LRT system in the capital is directly linked to Nurali Aliyev, Dariga Nazarbayeva’s eldest son and, therefore, Nursultan Nazarbayev’s eldest grandson. But also because its failure has partly been caused by the inter-clan clashes and even the direct hostilities inside Nursultan Nazarbayev’s big family.
According to KZ.expert’s insiders, Dariga Nazarbayeva and her sub-clan have tripped „thanks to“ the unofficial activities on the part of one of the Elbasy’s close relative. These efforts turned out to be so successful that the „Leader of the Nation’s“ eldest daughter was forced to leave the post of the Head of the Senate and abandon her political ambitions. Of course, the expensive investment project financed by the Chinese money had suffered as well.
The circumstances surrounding the conflict lost by Ms. Nazarbayeva and won by her opponents are so sensitive for the authoritarian political system and the „super-presidential“ vertical that an information leak on them may turn out to be critical. For this reason, the Library absolutely does not need for Kanat Sultanbekov and Talgat Ardan to return to Kazakhstan today. And probably even tomorrow.
In these circumstances, the fugitives may feel relatively safe despite the fact that the representatives of Kazakhstan’s law-enforcement authorities claim that they know exactly where the two men are hiding».
Because when the trial ends and the verdict will have been reached, their risks, in our opinion, are going to grow. For a man is weak and may start talking at any most inconvenient moment. And everyone involved in this matter understands it full well.
Therefore, we may recommend to Mr. Sultanbekov and Mr. Ardan not to believe the promises of the people they are connected with and fear them more than coronavirus and its complications.