Crabs in a Barrel or LRT’s Evil Genius

On October 20, 2020, the trial related to the embezzlement of the monetary funds during the construction of the light rail transit system (LRT) began in Kazakhstan’s capital. So, the time has come to ask the question who is responsible for bringing this story into the public limelight.  

First, let us quote a Radio Azattyk publication titled «The Trial on the Embezzlements Related to the LRT Construction Has Started in Nur-Sultan» (text in bold by

«The specialised inter-district criminal court has held the preliminary hearings on the embezzlement case related to the construction of the country’s first light rail transit system.

According to the court’s press-service, the list of the accused includes former deputy and secretary of the sixth-term Nur-Sultan maslikhat Zhanat Nurpiisov, former Head of the Nur-Sultan Passenger Transportation and Motor Roads Authority Rashid Amanzhulov, former Chairman of the Management Board of Astana Innovations JSC Talgat Ashim and four more entrepreneurs and heads of contract entities — Dauren Abdykhamitov, Ulugbek Achilov, Timur Kasabayev and Dulat Musenov.

They are being tried based on the following articles — «Creation and Management of an Organised Group» and «Appropriation or Embezzlement of Property of Another».

Prior to this, the Anticorruption Agency that conducted the investigation had informed that the embezzlement scheme was organised by former Deputy Akim of Nur-Sultan Kanat Sultanbekov and former Head of the Astana LRT company Talgat Ardan. Both have been put on the international wanted list».  

The trial is conducted by Judge Kazhymukan Mekemtas. The first hearing is scheduled for the 29th of October».

You can learn more on this resonant case from a publication titled «Who Will Answer for the LRT’s Failure»?.  (Text available in Russian). But we, at the moment, are more concerned about the internal political consequences of both the upcoming trial and the judgement of guilt that will be passed on the accused.

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’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.

However, after the trial will have ended and the guilty verdict will have been reached, their risks will rise, in our opinion. For a person is weak and may start talking at the worst possible moment. Those who had started this whole story and who are now trying to cover it up understand this full well.

Therefore, we can only recommend Mr. Sultanbekov and Mr. Ardan not to trust the promises of those with whom they once tied and fear them much more than coronavirus and its complications.


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