Suicide of Kazakh president's former son-in-law clears succession path

By bne IntelliNews February 24, 2015

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Rakhat Aliyev, former son-in-law of ageing Kazakh strongman President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has committed suicide in an Austrian detention centre. Aliyev was under investigation for a number of serious crimes, including murder and kidnapping, which he denied as "politically motivated".

The death of Aliyev, one of the most hated figures in the Kazakh establishment, may now pave the way for the grooming of Nazarbayev's eldest daughter Dariga and her eldest son Nurali Aliyev as potential successors.  The possible designation of either Dariga, Aliyev's former wife, or Nurali as successor would have met opposition from elite groups within the Kazakh establishment because of the fear of Aliyev's comeback after Nazarbayev's departure. Aliyev's death will now quell these fears.

Dariga, 51, is currently a deputy speaker of the Kazakh parliament's lower chamber, the Mazhilis, whereas Nurali, 30, started his political career as deputy mayor of Astana in December 2014. According to the Kazakh constitution, candidates must be at least 40 to become president.

The Austria Press Agency reported that Aliyev's body was found in Vienna's Josefstadt prison in a cell in the morning of February 24. He had hanged himself in a bathroom, according to the press agency. "He committed suicide," Reuters quoted a spokeswoman for the Austrian court as saying.

Last December Austrian prosecutors brought charges against Aliyev for murdering two bankers in Kazakhstan in 2007. Kazakhstan sought Aliyev's extradition for high treason, plotting a coup and kidnapping and sentenced him in absentia to 40 years in prison in 2008. 

In May 2011 Kazakhstan charged Aliyev with murdering two missing top managers of Kazakhstan's Nurbank in which Aliyev held a stake. According to Kazakh prosecutors, Rakhat Aliyev was involved in a criminal group that kidnapped the bankers Zholdas Timraliyev and Aibar Khasenov in January 2007, who were murdered a few days after the kidnapping.

Aliyev held a number of high-profile posts in Kazakhstan and was the country's ambassador to Austria and international organisations based there until his downfall in 2007 when he turned into Nazarbayev's vocal opponent.

 

 

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