The Trail Leads to Dariga Nazarbayeva

A Kazakh trail has appeared in the case of the recent murder of a former French intelligence agent committed at the Swiss border. The European media mention the name of Dariga Nazarbayeva, the Speaker of the Kazakh Parliament and the second-top public official of the country.

On March 21, 2019, the body of former DGSE agent Daniel Forestier was found at one of the parking lots in Ballaison (Haute-Savoie, the French Alps).

The town is surrounded by the areas for outdoor activities. For this reason, the locals did not even give a second thought to the shots they heard assuming that it was hunters shooting in the mountains. But the shots were fired in the town. And, as it turns out, the whole story was a prologue to a Forsyth-style political thriller. As for the protagonist of the thriller, the journalists of the leading French newspaper Le Monde assign this part to… Dariga Nazarbayeva, the daughter of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.  

Upon arriving to the scene of the crime, the gendarmes found the body at a parking lot not far from the town. It is still unclear why the former agent of the French intelligence came to this place. But certainly not to walk around the mountains. According to Le Monde, the agent was preparing to meet some serious people with a propensity for secrecy. For this reason, according to the newspaper, Forestier had borrowed a car from his sister and put on a hoodie.

But something went wrong, and he was met with the shots. Of the five bullets that were fired, two penetrated his heart and one entered the head. In other words, it was not a meeting but an execution. Having performed it, the killers left the scene of the crime scot-free.

The African story

The first and the most obvious line of investigation that the French detective have chosen to pursue has the African origin. The thing is that the former French agent was involved in the preparations of Ferdinand Mbaou’s assassination. The latter is a political oppositionist from Congo who went against the country’s authoritarian president Denis Sassou-Nguesso.

A vigilant fighter against colonialism, a supporter of Congo’s independence and a dedicated socialist, Sassou-Nguesso ascended to power in 1979 as a result of an intricate plot born in the midst of the national movement. At the beginning of 1990s, in a complete accord with the trends of the time, he tried to play a liberal and, consequently, lost his authorities at the 1992 elections. Sassou-Nguesso managed to get the power back only after the civil war and with the support of the authorities of the neighboring Angola. After this, he has abandoned flirting with liberalism and wins the elections with more than 90% of the votes.

Now the former vigilant fighter against colonialism is considered one of the most corrupt leaders in the world. There are many economic reasons for that. The country is living by means of the resource exporting (oil, primarily) and Sassou-Nguesso is the key element of this resource matrix. He and the political system he created serve as the guarantor of stability for the Western oil corporations (first of all, Total) that have established themselves in the country since the colonial times and can guarantee the inflows from the oil rent to their clientele. Nonetheless, beyond the resource business and the circle of the highly-paid lobbyists, Sassou-Nguesso’s regime does not enjoy the support and respect of the West.

Obviously, Sassou-Nguesso’s opponents are forced to live in exile, particularly, in France. France is the place of residence of Ferdinand Mbaou, a general of Congo’s security service in 1992 – 1997, the period of the rule of Pascal Lissouba elected via the democratic vote. Lissouba is now also residing in France. In his home country, he was accused of corruption and bribery and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

All in all, this is a familiar story. However, now a Kazakh trail seems to have appeared in the mysterious case of Daniel Forestier’s murder.

The Kazakh secrets

The investigation conducted by French newspaper Le Monde has cast a new, sinister, light on the mysterious death of the French intelligence agent.

The authors of the article published in the newspaper believe that Forestier’s murder may be connected to Kazakhstan since the agent was in possession of some secret information about the Kazakh regime.

As to why Forestier was kept well-informed, it can be explained very easily. According to Le Monde, he used to be Dariga Nazarbayeva’s personal security guard and ran, for the Nazarbayev family, sensitive errands in the sphere that is usually called ‘intelligence’. (In theory, this term means search for and analysis of information; in practice, however, it is often used to describe the job duties of a secret service).

By the way, Forestier himself was not the only member of his family working for Dariga Nazarbayeva. One of his relatives also used to serve as her personal driver.

Having this information at their disposal, Le Monde reporters asked the Kazakh Mission to the UN located in Geneva for a comment but got no reply. The very fact that they addressed this organization is quite remarkable especially considering that Interim President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev has the direct ties to it.

The fact that Forestier was hired in Geneva served as the official reason to conduct a search for Forestier’s connections in this city. It was there that he obtained his rifle permit as well.

In September 2018, according to Le Monde reporters, Dariga Nazarbayeva fired Daniel Forestier. The reasons were unclear, but this happened after the latter was accused of preparing Mbaou’s assassination. After the dismissal, write the authors of the article, Daniel Forestier became an object of attention of very different people. It was this attention, they believe, that led him to his death.

…What all this means for Kazakhstan, especially on the eve of the presidential elections where Dariga Nazarbayeva may participate as a contestant for the presidency is a topic for a separate narrative.


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