Amid the ongoing geopolitical confrontation with the collective West, the Kremlin is looking for opportunities to bypass the numerous sanctions imposed against the country, the Central Bank of Russia as well as Russian legal and physical bodies.
Let us state this from the beginning: it will find them. For, it is impossible to build an “iron curtain” around such a big (and not just territorially) state as Russia thus shutting the country from the rest of the world and stopping the money flows from and into it.
After all, Russia is cardinally different from Iran, Cuba or North Korea whose economic blockade by the West has been almost successful (albeit not without large “holes in the fence”).
Apart from that, Russia shares its borders with a number of the states that are not at all keen on supporting the USA and Europe in this undeclared “war”.
Also, as we all know, money is money so, the number of those wishing to make profit of off the anti-Russia sanctions is getting bigger every day.
So, the “breaks” in the sanctions fence will be (and already are) performed on the three levels – governmental, corporate and individual. And, if regarding the first two, the U.S. and European state agencies have more possibilities to interfere with the export or the import then, speaking of the third level, they are practically powerless.
The thing is that Russia still hasn’t lost the know-how of the 1990s when physical bodies commonly referred to as “chelnochniki” were able to fill the local market with the goods produced in the West (and not only there). Moreover, a significant part of these trade agents has lived to see this day. Of course, the product range they used to operate with has been seriously reduced in the past decades.
But now it looks like the era of “chelnochniki” has returned. And we are talking not only of physical but of legal bodies as well. Russia has already allowed parallel importing, apart from that, the Central Bank seems to be conducting a special op on not simply “restoring” the pre-crisis exchange rate of the Russian ruble against the U.S. dollar and euro but its significant reduction.
And, given that the retail prices in rubles for essential (and other) goods have grown in Russia by 10, 20 and so forth percent, increasing the Russian ruble exchange rate will invariably result in a significant growth of their dollar and euro equivalent.
So significant, in fact, that this surplus will allow to cover not only the increased transportation expenses but the additional costs for bypassing the sanctions as well.
As to the countries/potential channels for moving the sanction-restricted goods into Russia, Kazakhstan unquestionably stands out. First of all, it is situated between China and Russia and possesses enough technological possibilities to transfer Chinese goods into both Russia and Europe. Secondly, Kazakh entrepreneurs do not simply have well-established connections with their Russian colleagues but are ready to violate any rules, norms and restrictions en masse as long as there is a nice profit.
Moreover, Kazakhstan’s power holders will support them in this profitable albeit illegal enterprise. The thing is that, in Kazakhstan, any successful (not to mention super-profitable) business-scheme sooner or later catches the eye of the power holders and they either become a part of the scheme or even appropriate it for their own exclusive use.
To confirm this thought, we would like to recall the numerous publications in the Kazakh press regarding the two contraband schemes of importing Chinese goods to Kazakhstan that had existed in the country for years without encountering any trouble from the law-enforcement agencies. These schemes existed under the protection of Bolat Nazarbayev and Anipa Nazarbayeva, the First President’s brother and sister.
Masimov’s 2 Million-Dollar Mystery
Apart from that, according to one of our insiders, another scheme under the protection of just as influential a patron was operating in Kazakhstan alongside the first two.
This patron was the then NSC RK chief Karim Masimov.
We have already touched upon this Akorda and Library-sensitive topic in our publication “Masimov’s 2 Million-Dollar Mystery”. In it, however, we were talking about the sales of Russian weapons and military equipment to third countries through the Kazakh cover firms.
However, we have now learned that Karim Masimov was also sheltering the companies engaged in importing the sanction goods into Russia. According to our insider, the companies were founded back in 2014 when they imposed sanctions against Russia for supporting the Donetsk and Lugansk separatists and annexing Crimea and Sevastopol.
Our source could not (or chose not to) list the goods imported into Russia through Kazakhstan and say what kind of profit was made of off this contraband. He did, however, confirm that the companies are still operating today - with Karim Masimov kept in the NSC detention center for the fifth month already.
In the context of the Kazakh realia, it means that the aforementioned export/import firms have changed hands. The question is – who controls them now?
In view of this, we would like to recall the name of the person left out of the focus of the siloviks attention after the January 2022 events even though he used to be one of Karim Masimov’s most trusted people. We are talking about Kuat Tanysbay.
We have mentioned his name a number of times in our publications, for instance -
“Where to Dig for Tokayev’s Assets”
”On Masimov’s People and Kenes Rakishev” (text available in Russian)
“Masimov’s 2 Million-Dollar Mystery”.
You will recall that, in the first of these articles, we have said in regard to this person –
“Finally, we would like to recommend the investigators of the Tokayev-related issues to examine today’s private life of the second President of Kazakhstan. For, if you google ‘Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s wife’, among the related searches at the bottom of the page you will find a lot of interesting stuff. For instance, on Lyazzat Tanysbay who has been charing the Kazakhstan Republican Television and Radio Corporation NSC since April 2019.
If the rumours connecting her name with Kassym-Jomart Tokayev are at least partially true then, given the usual Kazakh practices, one may assume that Tokayev would entrust his money and other assets in Lyazzat Tanysbay and your relatives’ care. And, among these relatives, we would single out Kuat Tanysbay, the brother of Ms. Tanysbay.
The thing is that, according to our insiders in Akorda, Kuat Tanysbay who, in 2001-2002, had served as the Aide to the Minister of Transport and Communications and then as the Aide to Deputy Prime Minister Karim Masimov has remained one of the closest allies of the former Chief of the NSC until very recently.
Moreover, according to the people who used to know them in the past, Karim Masimov had deliberately excluded Tanysbay from his entourage so that the name of this man would not be tied to him in the future.
We cannot say in what way Kuat Tanysbay used to assist Karim Masimov but, according to our insiders, it is through him that current President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had maintained the unofficial contacts with Masimov, even after Nursultan Nazarbayev has made him his successor at the presidential post.
According to unverified data, Kuat Tanysbay is now being used as the unofficial negotiator with Karim Masimov regarding the latter’s assets that, in the opinion of Tokayev his circle, should be handed over to Tokayev’s people”.
Now then, since Kuat Tanysbay has been left out of the focus of the NSC attention even though the latter is now conducting the high-profile investigation of Karim Masimov and his deputies, there has to be some explanation regarding this fact. One of the possibilities is that he may now be working for President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
But if this is so, it means that the scheme of bypassing the anti-Russia sanctions through Kazakhstan has not simply got second wind but received support on the highest level.
Unfortunately, we cannot verify the information provided by our insider. However, little in Kazakhstan remains secret for long, therefore, we are hopeful that, in time, all becomes clear in this matter.