Kazakh “dissident” thieves and murderers and the making of “colour revolutions”/I

Are the governments of Central Asian former Soviet republics “dictatorships” marked by “despotism”, torture, random imprisonment and no justice to speak of? And are therefore thieves and murderers originating from them “opposition leaders”, “dissidents” and “victims of political persecution” pursuing “democratic reform” in their countries of origin? Even long before the wave of agitation that shook the former USSR, so-called non-governmental  organisations (NGOs) operating on formerly Soviet territories but mostly funded by western state organisations and “sympathising” private parties have been active in attempts to mobilise mobs and mobsters to stand up against their governments. Should ever money stolen by the likes of Ablyazov, Aliyev and Khrapunov be found in their coffers, no one should really be surprised. To identify it as such, however, is extremely complicated and belies the logic behind the suspicion.

30.06.15-opinions-Kazakh-dissident-thieves-and-murderersBY CHARLES VAN DER LEEUW, WRITER, NEWS ANALYST

On the surface, it looked like just one more row between one of Kazakhstan’s upstart “media” and the authorities, which came to light in the last full week of June this year. “Online news publisher Respublika has asked a federal judge in New York to clarify that officials in Kazakhstan cannot use a US court order in a battle over leaked emails to censor news stories that are critical of the Kazakhstan government,” a recent press release posted on June 23 [https://www.eff.org/press/releases/kazakhstan-misusing-court-order-censor-online-newspaper] from a non-profit organisation called Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which claims to “represent” the Kazakh e-paper, “a longtime target of Kazakhstan intimidation and persecution because of its investigative reporting” in the organisation’s words. “The case began in March, when Kazakhstan sued dozens of unnamed individuals in a New York district court for allegedly breaking into government computers and stealing thousands of messages sent from Gmail accounts.  The judge in the case issued a preliminary injunction, forbidding these unnamed individuals from disseminating, using, or viewing the material. […]  This abuse and misuse of the court’s order is just the latest in Kazakhstan’s decade-long persecution of Respublika and those associated with it.  Respublika has been driven out of Kazakhstan and subjected to an almost constant stream of coordinated DDoS attacks, and its founders have been subject to extreme harassment and intimidation.“

The EFF claims to be sustained by “donations” including private and corporate ones – without, however, naming its core sources of finance. What the press release fails to mention, though, is that Respublika is widely known to be paid for by Mukhtar Ablyazov, the Kazakh ex-banker who embezzled at least half a dozen billion in US dollar from the bank he used to control and now awaits his extradition to the Russian Federation where most of the money has been laundered into assets. It means that Respublika, which he keeps afloat through former associates still at large who keep substantial parts of the stolen money hidden from justice – in violation of an English court order dating from 2010. It means that Respublika is being maintained with stolen funds. It is also an indicator which suggests that it is no isolated case, but part of a pattern in which thugs originating from countries considered “anti-western” (read: allies of Russia in the new Cold War) are being allowed in western countries to use ill-gotten gains to set up underground movements in their countries of origin with the aim to trigger “coloured revolutions” and have those countries’ regimes replaced by rivals considered more “cooperative” in the US-led campaigns against the Russian Federation and a number of other former Soviet republics. In the case of Kazakhstan, three particular names pop up in this context.

While in Austria and (sometimes) beyond the ongoing trial concerning the murder of two Kazakh bank executives in Almaty back in 2007 keeps making headlines by the day, even though the main culprit Rakhat Aliyev hanged himself shortly before the trial started, two other notorious criminals, both of the white-collar type, have virtually slipped into oblivion. One is the already mentioned Mukhtar Ablyazov, also a former banker who diverted billion after billion belonging to deposit holders of his onetime bank BTA offshore to accounts linked to and ultimately controlled by himself, and now awaits extradition to the Russian Federation or, if declined, eventually to Ukraine. Most of the stolen money has been laundered into assets in both countries, but the location of large amounts of money remains a mystery. The same is true for former mayor of Almaty Viktor Khrapunov, walking around free in Switzerland. Some of the money he stole while in office has turned up in Switzerland in the form of purchased real estate, and lately also in California, USA. Aliyev’s associates also control hundreds of millions in euro through an ingenious complex of offshore accounts in a circuit similar to that belonging to Ablyazov. Most of the money has been stolen from state funds by Aliyev during his years of glory holding various state functions, and in the sidelines through extortion from wealthy businessmen in Kazakhstan.

“The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world,” information accompanying the press release quoted earlier reads. “Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows. Even in the fledgling days of the Internet, EFF understood that protecting access to developing technology was central to advancing freedom for all. In the years that followed, EFF used our fiercely independent voice to clear the way for open source software, encryption, security research, file sharing tools, and a world of emerging technologies. Today, EFF uses the unique expertise of leading technologists, activists, and attorneys in our efforts to defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, advocate for users and innovators, and support freedom-enhancing technologies. Together, we forged a vast network of concerned members and partner organisations spanning the globe.”

The EFF is not the only e-lobby working for Ablyazov bearing the so-called “free speech” label, with the ultimate aim to publicise slander and insinuations against state officials and entrepreneurs in former Soviet republics in order to influence public opinions around the world against them in support of NATO’s “push-east” campaigns. Thus, as we reported earlier, an organisation calling itself the Open Dialog Foundation, based in Poland but mainly operating in Ukraine, has been trying to mobilise resistance against the fraudulent ex-banker’s extradition in a manner which amply illustrates the dimensions up to the size of a still functioning network under Ablyazov’s control to escape justice and keep the stolen cash and assets. In a petition dated May 26 last year [maidan24.eu/…/yd2305142_22052014_заява-щодо-біженців_-eng-] and addressed to the General Prosecutor of Ukraine Oleg Makhnitskiy, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, the Head of the SSU Valentin Nalyvaychenko and Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko. The signatories were Lyudmyla Kozlovska, President of the Open Dialog Foundation (Poland) Alexandra Matviychuk, President of the Board of the Centre For Civil Liberties (Ukraine) and Arkadiy Bushchenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union – as they identified themselves. Reading through it, one can only conclude that the petition is little more than a veiled attempt to get Ablyazov off the hook under the guise of his alleged role as a Kazak “opposition leader” – which he never was and never will be.

“The Open Dialog Foundation (ODF) is a non-governmental, non-partisan organization established in Poland, in 2009,” the movement’s own information as posted on its website [http://en.odfoundation.eu/a/6556,background-note-on-the-international-advocacy-activities-of-the-open-dialog-foundation-coordinated-by-the-brussels-office-in-2013-2015] reads. “The statutory objectives of the Foundation include promotion, support and protection of human rights, democracy and rule of law in the post-Soviet area. The Foundation pursues its goals through the organization of bilateral and multilateral meetings, seminars, conferences (side events, hearings, exchange of views), observation missions, manifestations, happenings etc., on the human rights situation in the region, with a particular focus on the three biggest countries: Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia. Based on these activities, the Foundation creates reports and distributes them among the institutions of the EU, the CoE, the OSCE, the UN and other international organizations, foreign ministries and parliaments, media, think tanks and CSOs. The Foundation cooperates mostly with politicians, international civil servants, diplomats, journalists, civic activists, academics and students by organizing for them meetings with political opposition, civic activists, independent journalists and experts from the focus countries. The Foundation operates on a daily basis in Warsaw, Kyiv and Brussels. It was registered under the Polish law on 9 December 2009 and under the Ukrainian law on 27 August 2014. Representatives of the Foundation follow and attend the most important sessions and meetings of the international organizations and institutions in Strasbourg (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), Vienna (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly) and Geneva (United Nations).”

In other words: a lobby – serving the interests of Cold War II pushers in the USA and the EU on one side while organising the necessary agitation for the latter to move forward on the ground in the former USSR. “The Foundation’s Brussels office carries out a regular day-to-day monitoring and information campaign towards the EU institutions (EP, EC, Councils and the EEAS), as well as a number of the EU member states, i.a. Italy and France. The daily work done constitutes of developing and constantly broadening the network of contacts of individuals – key officials and parliamentarians, as well as non-governmental bodies involved in the promotion of human rights respect and democracy in the post-Soviet area. The Foundation keeps these stakeholders informed through direct meetings and with its reports and analysis based on the work of our teams and provides them with factual and informational support whenever needed prior to the drafting of resolutions, written questions, letters, statements and more. We ensure that human rights are included in the debates on bilateral and multilateral relations between the EU, its member states and the countries of focus. We also work closely with our stakeholders in bringing to their attention individual cases of political and civic activists that are being targeted for their pro-democratic and pro-human rights activity so that these individual cases can be brought up in meetings and talks with the relevant authorities of the focus countries.”

But looking at recent developments on the ground in Kazakhstan in connection to the Ablyazov cases, there are at least strong suggestions that the “human rights” argument advocated by western so-called social justice lobbies is a deliberate distraction from the real goal, name undermine state authority in a country loved by western powers and their multinationals for their natural resources. It is here that the case against Alexander Pavlov, Ablyazov’s former personal security chief accused of having plotted terrorist attacks in public places in Almaty in the hope that police crackdowns following them would trigger “popular resentment” and clear the way for a “colour revolution” à la kazakhstanaise. “Since 2005 Pavlov had been chief bodyguard of former head of the BTA banker Mukhtar Ablyazov who is also sought by law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan, and has carried out his confidential instructions,” the Baku-based independent regional news agency Trend reported on March 28, 2012. “One of leaders of the unregistered Alga party Muratbek Ketebaev, who is Mukhtar Ablyazov’s closest confidant and a permanent resident abroad acted in collusion with Pavlov. They matured plans to organise acts of terrorism and extremism since September 2011. It was found that in early March 2012, they instructed their accomplices to commit a series of explosions in public places on March 24, including park areas and office buildings in the city of Almaty. In order to organise such attacks, Pavlov gave $25,000, of which the executor was given a deposit of $15,000. The remaining $10,000 was planned to be paid after the terrorist attacks. During the subsequent investigative it was found that the main purpose of the attacks was to frighten the population, create an atmosphere of chaos and panic and destabilise the social and political situation in the country.”

Recent trouble in Armenia has opened a true Pandora’s box of agencies operating in the country with the aim to pave the way for a fresh “revolution” to pull the country out of the Eurasian Economic Union and replace the government by a “pro-western” regime. Among them is an organisation known as “The Choice is Yours”, which is fully funded by Washington, actually performs in the election processes outside the territory of Armenia since 2010, Russia Today reported recently [http://rt.com/op-edge/269566-armenia-protests-energy-ngos/] while focusing on the latest hotspot in the wave of so-called revolutions which is Armenia and its “electric revolution”. Officially, “The Choice is Yours” has sent hundreds of volunteers as observers to presidential and parliamentary elections in a number of former Soviet states ever since, under supervision of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The main aim of this, however, is to get a foothold in such countries in order to spread agitation among the poorer parts of the population with the end goal to have governments toppled in so-called coloured revolutions. “A number of pro-Western NGOs in Armenia perform various functions, including the support of political processes and even overseeing foreign elections,” in the news report’s words. “Now, as protests against an electricity rate hike drag on, these groups are getting a second look.”

According to Dr Paul Craig Roberts, the former US assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy and interviewed in the RT report, the suggestion that money stolen by “dissidents” could have been used to co-fund agitators throughout the former USSR and beyond should not come as any sort of surprise at all. “It is part of the destabilisation of Russia,” Roberts told Russia Today, while commenting on the role of non-governmental lobbies in so-called coloured revolutions in the region and beyond. “It is part of the regime change that neoconservatives in Washington desire to accomplish. So it was obvious that Armenia would be subject to this type of thing. Now this particular protest, it might be innocent, it may be a legitimate protest. But even if it is, Washington will make an effort to turn it into more. And the same thing is going to happen in Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan. If possible, Washington will destabilise Kazakhstan, they would love to do that because then they can also put pressure on China.” (to be continued)