Belsat TV has interviewed Mukhtar Ablyazov, a businessman and Kazakhstan’s former Energy Minister, who is persecuted by the Kazakh authorities.
Belsat: Sometimes people call you ‘Kazakh Khodorkovsky’. Is it a proper comparison?
Ablyazov: Actually, I am not a Kazakh oligarch. In theory, an oligarch is a man who became rich and made his fortune when being in power, due to being in power. I had been Minister for a year and a half – in 1998-1999. I came to power when I was a well-known businessman, who had banks and industrial enterprises in possession. These banks and businesses were started from scratch, that is why I was not and I am not an oligarch. In the following years I developed all my companies on my own, although the authorities kept trying to take them over. As a result, in January 2009, Nazarbayev decided to seize my business. I’m not an oligarch, but an opposition politician and businessman.
Belsat: You told the French newspaper Libération that you were ready to create the opposition to President Nursultan Nazarbayev from a distance. Is this possible?
Ablyazov: In authoritarian countries (Kazakhstan, Belarus) citizens have no opportunity to express their will in the conventional way, i.e. by taking part in the activities of political parties and movements.
Moreover, the Kazakh authorities suppress any display of dissent, even pickets. I think that taking government buildings, as it happened in Ukraine, is the only way to change the political regime.
I am abroad, but I want to consolidate the opposition forces in the country. There are many people dissatisfied with the regime. It would be good if tens of thousands of people took to the streets and pour in and topple the regime.
Belsat: Are you ready to become the president of Kazakhstan? What foreign policy would you pursue towards Russia and other countries?
Ablyazov: I want to become Prime Minister, not President. I believe that the political model which includes the presidency has outlived its usefulness and is dangerous for Kazakhstan and any country of the CIS, because the president actually holds a monopoly on power and starts to manipulate the prime minister. I would pursue an independent policy of a UN member country.
Belsat: How would you describe the current policy of Kazakhstan – a country which has been ruled by one clan for several decades?
Ablyazov: It’s not even an authoritarian regime, a dictatorship, a dictatorship of one person and his family.