Political opposition in Kazakhstan may find itself penniless in the near future. Rustam Ybyiraiymov, Senior Deputy Chairman of the Agency for Combating Economic Crime and Corruption, said at his press conference in Astana on August 5 that criminal charges had been pressed against Bolat Abilov, a prominent businessman and politician. Abilov, 47, is charged with fraud running into millions and tax-evasion to the tune of $3.5 million.
Representatives of the financial police deny political motives of the criminal charges. They say that the businessman would have never encountered any trouble had he always abided by the law. Abilov is of a different frame of mind. He claims that fiscal structures are acting on the orders from their political masters.
Butja General Director Abilov is one of the wealthiest citizens of Kazakhstan. The company owns a wide network of stores in major cities of the republic (the stores deal in everything from Adidas articles to clothes from European designers to food to furniture.) Abilov owns Ramstore supermarkets, Zangar Trading House (the former Central Department Store in Alma-Ata), Butja auto center, Toyota service centers, and Astana-Motors. There are the rumors as well that Abilov deals in spirits via affiliated companies.
In 2000, Abilov became a deputy of the parliament representing Otan or Fatherland, the political party of President Nursultan Nazarbayev himself. He was ousted from the parliament for participation in establishment of the oppositionist Kazakhstan's Democratic Choice barely a year later.
In the meantime, Abilov became one of the leaders of the moderately oppositionist Ak-Zhol or Bright Way. He even participated in establishment of Movement For Fair Kazakhstan, the political structure that consolidated all of the republican opposition afterwards.
Abilov never bothered to hide the fact that he sponsored the opposition. He was always taciturn on the subject, but nobody doubts that the sums in question are considerable. After all, Abilov's personal fortune amounts to millions by even a rough estimate.
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