Kazakh exile Rakhat Aliyev applies for Cypriot citizenship

Kazakh exile' name appears in mandatory newspaper ad for applicants for Cypriot citizenship.

Rakhat Aliyev applied for a Cypriot passport back in August 2013
Rakhat Aliyev applied for a Cypriot passport back in August 2013

Rakhat Aliyev, the former son-in-law of Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbaev, has applied for citizenship in Cyprus, MaltaToday has learnt.

The multi-millionaire exile has been living in Malta since 2010 and claims he is being hunted down by the Kazakh secret service he once headed.

In August 2013, a government notice appearing in the Cypriot daily Simerini, brought to public notice that Aliyev - who lives in Malta under the surname of Shoraz - was applying for a Cypriot passport.

It is the first confirmed information that Aliyev is trying to secure EU citizenship.

Since Malta launched its own citizenship programme, the Individual Investor Programme (IIP), Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has gone on record stating in the House of Representatives that Rakhat Aliyev would not get a Maltese passport.

It is ironic that while the IIP generated controversy for keeping secret the names of those who applied for naturalisation, Aliyev's name surfaces because under naturalisation rules in Cyprus, newspaper advertisements must be taken out in two consecutive publications to report that the applicant has filed an application for naturalisation.

Lothar de Maiziere, a lawyer for two bodyguards who claim they were tortured and personally beaten by Aliyev to extract a forced confession, has told the Cypriot government to carefully consider its decision in granting citizenship to Aliyev "in the interests of European jurisprudence."

"Rakhat Aliyev must face an independent court in one of the countries where investigations are already underway. He must be punished for his acts. The Republic of Cyprus must not, even unintentionally, enable the criminal proceedings and the punishment to be delayed even further," de Maiziere told the Cypriot home affairs ministry.

Rakhat Aliyev, 51, has been living in Malta since 2010, when he left Austria after Vienna prosecutors opened investigations on a double murder he is accused of being linked to. In 2008, a Kazakh court sentenced him to 20 years' imprisonment, in absentia, for his role in the murder of two bankers. Austria however refused to extradite him to Kazakhstan. He was stripped of his diplomatic immunity and forcefully divorced from Nursultan Nazarbayev's daughter.

He applied for his Cypriot passport in August 2013.

In April 2013 he had his Austrian aliens' passport repealed, following an inquiry by an Austrian ombudsman that found maladministration in the issuance of his passport by the ministry of the interior.

He presently avails himself of the right to move freely across the EU through his marriage to a naturalised Austrian citizen, Elnara Shorazova. He lives in Malta under the assumed surname of Shoraz.

He has been questioned on the double murder in a Maltese court, by an Austrian prosecutor. And German law enforcement agencies are investigating a case of money laundering against him, which by Aliyev's own admission, has led to a court order to freeze his assets.

FBI investigation

Aliyev has also been investigated by the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), MaltaToday has learnt.

On Friday, the US ambassador to Kazakhstan, John Ordway, revealed that Aliyev could be suspected of having ordered a high-profile political murder in 2006.

Kravchenko said that the FBI took part in the investigation led by an investigative group from the Kazakh prosecutor-general's office.

Ambassador John Ordway, who appeared with Kazakhstan's deputy prosecutor-general Andrei Kravchenko at a press conference, said that a probe into the murder of opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly had been reopened after prosecutors obtained polygraph evidence from the FBI proving that Aliyev ordered the hit.

The FBI findings had confirmed the Kazakh investigators' conclusions. "The steps taken by the American FBI assisting in this investigation led to results consistent with the findings of the [prosecutor-general] of Kazakhstan. I have met and known Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly and I am extremely pleased that this investigation is complete. I hope the results of this investigation will finally give some peace to the families of those murdered."

Sarsenbaiuly and his two associates were found shot to death, execution-style, in February 2006 near Almaty, the capital. Aliyev was at the time deputy chief of the KNB, the Kazakh national security committee.

Secret service 'infiltration'

Despite repeated requests, the Maltese police has so far refused to investigate complaints by former bodyguards Satzhev Ibraev and Pyotr Afanasenko, who claim they were tortured on order of Aliyev in 2001, and personally beaten by him, to extract a false confession that their boss, former prime minister Akezhan Kazageldin, was plotting a coup against Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Aliyev - a surgeon who married Nazarbayev's daughter to become a powerful media tycoon and deputy chief of the Kazakh secret service - said in one of his rare statements to the media that the allegations of torture, which he denies, are part of a "a systematic smear campaign" against him. Aliyev claims that Kazakh secret agents are in Malta to monitor his movements, and possibly kill him and his family.

"The Kazakh secret service has long been trying to influence the Maltese courts, the Attorney General and the police force," he said. 

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GOOD RIDDANCE. This is one of those whom the Gonzipn government gave permission to reside in Malta against all police advice.

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