How Tony Blair Advised Former Kazakh Ruler After

window.tgpQueue.add('tgpli-64a7d5d4e9c9a') Nursultan Nazarbayev with Tony Blair 

British for­mer PM told Nursultan Nazarbayev to stress he ‘under­stood’ crit­ics and to say reforms would ‘take time’The new­ly knight­ed Sir Tony Blair is one of sev­er­al well-paid west­ern advis­ers who have bur­nished the image of Kazakhstan’s for­mer ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev and his auto­crat­ic regime, now Browse this site the tar­get of angry protesters.

Narzabayev invit­ed Blair to give him strate­gic advice after Kazakh secu­ri­ty forces shot dead 14 peo­ple dur­ing the country’s December 2011 anti-gov­ern­ment upris­ing. The pro­test­ers in the west­ern oil town of Zhanaozen were demand­ing high­er wages.

Although the unrest then was on a less­er scale than this week’s rebel­lion, the government’s heavy-hand­ed response dealt a seri­ous blow to its inter­na­tion­al reputation.

Blair offered advice on a speech Nazarbayev made in Cambridge, where the Kazakh leader was to make his case to a west­ern audi­ence of aca­d­e­mics and dignitaries.

In a let­ter to Narzabayev, Blair advised the pres­i­dent to “meet head-on the Zhanaozen issue” while stress­ing the “enor­mous progress” Kazakhstan had made since its inde­pen­dence from the Soviet Union.

Blair urged the dic­ta­tor to stress he “under­stood” what his crit­ics were say­ing. The for­mer Labour prime min­is­ter sug­gest­ed Nazarbayev say reforms would “take time” and should be done “with care and with sta­bil­i­ty uppermost”.

The Kazakh gov­ern­ment is said to have paid Blair’s con­sul­tan­cy $13m for its services.

Narzabayev incor­po­rat­ed the ideas in the speech. Blair signed off by writ­ing: “With very best wish­es. I look for­ward to see­ing you in London! Yours ever, Tony Blair.”

The Kazakh regime has spent – some­times covert­ly – large sums in recent years to improve its stand­ing in the west and to rebut per­sis­tent alle­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion and lav­ish spend­ing by Narzabayev and his family.

His daugh­ter and grand­son own £80m of prop­er­ty in London. In 2020 the National Crime Agency lost an attempt in the high court to force them to explain where the mon­ey came from.

Blair’s for­mer con­sul­tan­cy firm, Tony Blair Associates, signed a deal to advise Kazakhstan’s gov­ern­ment in 2011, months after Nazarbeyev was con­tro­ver­sial­ly re-elect­ed with 96% of the vote and weeks before the massacre.

The for­mer Conservative cab­i­net min­is­ter Jonathan Aitken wrote two flat­ter­ing books about Nazarbayev. Aitken trav­elled around the coun­try on a plane belong­ing to Sir Richard Evans, the for­mer head of BAE Systems who sits on the board of Samruk, a Kazakh state hold­ing company.

The Guardian described Aitken’s 2009 Narzarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan as “quite prob­a­bly the hagiog­ra­phy of the year”. He denied receiv­ing mon­ey from the regime for the work, which skirt­ed over repres­sion and Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record. But the Pandora Papers, a trove of leaked data expos­ing tax haven secre­cy report­ed on by the Guardian and oth­ers, sug­gest­ed Aitken was paid £166,000.

According to the papers, World PR, a firm that rep­re­sents sev­er­al Kazakh min­istries, sent the cash to the for­mer MP’s Oxford bank account via the British Virgin Islands. It alleged­ly also paid for his hotel and book tour in the US.

Meanwhile, London-based bankers have earned large fees from assist­ing with the flota­tion on the London Stock Exchange of Kazakh min­ing con­glom­er­ates. They include the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) and Kazakhmys, which mines the country’s copper.

The late busi­ness­man and Tory par­ty chair­man Sir Paul Judge was an ENRC direc­tor. The com­pa­ny also hired and sub­se­quent­ly oust­ed Sir Richard Sykes, the for­mer head of GlaxoSmithKline and chan­cel­lor of Brunel University.

A spokesper­son for Blair said he was not an advis­er to Narzarbayev but did “give thoughts” on the president’s speech and said he should deal with human rights issues dur­ing his UK trip. The Kazakhstan project was in line with inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty goals and was “focused on the government’s change and reform pro­gramme,” they added.

The project fee did not go to Blair per­son­al­ly and most­ly fund­ed an in-coun­try team, they said, with the “busi­ness side” of his con­sul­tan­cy work end­ing in 2016.

Original source of arti­cle: