If Mandela Could’ve Blogged…

by Alexander_Visotzky on 2/17/2010

Since Kazakhstan assumed chairmanship of the OSCE on January 1st, I haven’t heard much regarding Kazakhstan’s two high-profile political prisoners, Evgenii Zhovtis and Mukhtar Dzhakishev. 

I was slightly and pleasantly shocked to learn this week, however, that Zhovtis is somehow blogging from prison. Presumably there isn’t much to do at prison colony 156/13 near Ust-Kammenogrsk other than sit inside and muse. The blog is unsurprisingly blocked in Kazakhstan, but the fact that Zhovtis has been able to pass messages to someone blogging for him successfully is pretty surprising. 

In other slightly surprising and encouraging news, a Kazakh district court dropped Timur Kulibayev’s lawsuit against five Kazakh papers after they published an accusation that Kulibayev took bribes from the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation.

Kulibayev now practically oversees all of Kazakhstan’s energy, as chairman of both KazAtomProm and KazMunaiGaz. His accuser was none other than Mukhtar Ablyazov, disgraced chairman of BTA Bank, living outside of Kazakhstan after charges of embezzlement. It’s worth pointing out that Ablyazov was a close ally of Dzhakishev, the former head of KazAtomProm who’s now sitting in prison for his own corruption charges.

We’ll probably never know the specifics and precise connections of the Kulibayev, Dzhakishev, and Ablyazov cases, but it’s fair to say that while corruption still flourishes high up in Kazakh politics, the attempts to prosecute it are little more than political wrangling.

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