‘Center right’ Belgian politician’s Kazakhstan financial scandal

This French TV video says about itself:

IN THE PAPERS: FRENCH PRESS – Weds. 08.10.2014: Nicolas Sarkozy is back in the press for more legal woes that could thwart his political comeback. Le Monde reveals a new scandal dubbed “Kazakhgate” which involves allegations of illegal kickbacks from the sale of 45 helicopters to Kazakhstan in 2010, during Sarkozy’s time as president.

The Kazakhgate scandal is about corruption in buying oil from, and selling French Eurocopter EC145 military helicopters to, the dictatorship in Kazakhstan.

Nicolas Sarkozy is usually referred to in the corporate media as a ‘center right’ politician (though he has tendencies towards the far right).

The Kazakhgate scandal involves not only French ‘center right’ politicians. Also Belgian ones (and United States businessmen).

On the same day when a Belgian ‘center left’ politician is in a far-right scandal, ‘center right’ Armand De Decker is once again in the news because of the Kazakhgate affair.

Armand De Decker is a very prominent member of the French speaking pro-Big Business MR. That sister party of the British Liberal Democrats is the party of Belgian Prime Minister Michel.

Translated from Belgian daily De Standaard today:

Armand De Decker suspected of corruption in Kazakhgate scandal.

Minister of State and former Senate chairman Armand De Decker (MR) has been declared to be a suspect by the court in Mons for ‘unauthorized influence’ in the Kazakhgate case. Legal sources confirm that to De Standaard.

An investigating magistrate in Mons thinks there is enough evidence that Senator Armand De Decker (MR) did unlawful political lobbying in 2011 and 2012 to have the law on the extended amicable settlement approved in a way favourable to [London-based] billionaire Patokh Chodiev and two of his business partners. De Decker received 740,000 euros from Chodiev and his cronies for his services. The former senator himself maintains until today that he only worked as a lawyer for Chodiev in the Kazakhgate case and that the 740,000 euros were his lawyer’s fees. But he did not succeed in convincing the investigators of that.

Wild kulan donkeys in Kazakhstan

This video says about itself:

1 September 2014

Herd of Indian wild ass grazing in a field…..

The Indian wild ass (Equus hemionus khur) also called the Khur, is a subspecies of the onager native to Southern Asia.

The Indian wild ass, as with most other Asian wild ass subspecies, is quite different from the African wild ass species. The coat is usually sandy, but varies from reddish grey, fawn, to pale chestnut. The animal possesses an erect, dark mane which runs from the back of the head and along the neck. The mane is then followed by a dark brown stripe running along the back, to the root of the tail.

From BirdLife:

21 Dec 2017

Coming home: the kulan of Central Kazakhstan

Danara Zharbolova from ACBK/BirdLife Kazakhstan recounts the promising first steps in an exciting project to establish a new population of Turkmenian kulan in Central Kazakhstan.

The Turkmenian kulan Equus hemionus kulan is a subspecies of onager, or Asiatic wild ass, native to Central Asia. And though it may not look it – with a diminutive frame 200-250 cm long and 100-140 cm tall – it is actually one of the largest onagers in the world. There was a time when the kulan’s distinctive light brown coat with patches of white on its on belly, back and sides was a familiar sight out upon the deserts, deltas and steppes between northern Afghanistan, southern Siberia and western China. But in recent years, its story has taken a sad turn.

The combined threats of illegal hunting and habitat loss has dramatically limited its population size and distribution areas – and from some locations, it has disappeared entirely. In 2016, the full extent of its sad decline was hammered home when the IUCN marked it globally Endangered on its Red List.

In Kazakhstan, our BirdLife partner ACBK has recently started work on a project to establish a new kulan population in Central Asia.[1] The project, coordinated by the Norwegian Institute of Nature Research, aspires to not only make the species more stable, but to help restore the natural ecosystems of the Central Kazakhstan steppe.[2]

According to a 2017 survey, the total Kazakh population of Turkmenian kulan stands at 3,900 animals, of which 3,400 reside in Altyn Emel National Park – the biggest population of this subspecies in the world. But the park’s territory is limited and Altyn Emel is struggling to cope with the herd’s growth, leading to potential outbreaks of disease and competition with other species. Conservationists came to the conclusion that something had to be done.

In late October, ACBK successfully moved the first nine kulan from Altyn Emel national park to Altyn Dala nature reserve in Central Kazakhstan. The chosen nine were carefully selected by expert zoologists and veterinarians from a group of 50 kulan rounded-up by ACBK together with the Altyn Emel park rangers and the state-run Okhotzooprom. Precise measures were taken to ensure safety and minimise stress levels during the big move – each animal was sedated and put into a special box for transport upon a Mi-26T – the world’s biggest helicopter – run by the Kazakh airline Kazaviaspas.

And so they embarked for the Turgai steppe. At the beginning of the 19th century, the kulan lived in this region, and were still to be found roaming along the river Uly-Zhylanshyk until the 1930s. Today, its relief, vegetation and water access still provide the perfect ecological requirements for the kulan to thrive. And it is here, in the two state nature reserves, Altyn Dala and Irgiz-Turgai, where they will make their new home.

For the time being, the nine animals will be well looked-after in a purpose-built centre set up by ACBK. Then, in the spring, they will be released to the wild. It is hoped that these first nine ‘adventurers’ will be joined by a further 30 animals in 2018 and 2019.

Danara Zharbolova – Head of Communications, ACBK/BirdLife Kazakhstan

In early 2017, the government of Kazakhstan introduced a ban on spring hunting. One year on, Danara Zharbolova (ACBK/BirdLife Kazakhstan) reflects on why this decision was – and remains – so important: here.

White-headed ducks in Kazakhstan

This is a white-headed duck video from Spain.

From BirdLife:

14 Nov 2017

Tagging the Elusive White-headed Duck

Danara Zharbolova and Alyona Koshkina from our Kazakh partner ACBK tell us about their first attempts to catch and tag the elusive White-headed Duck with geolocators out on the lakes of the Central Kazakhstan.

The White-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala, with its long tail (often cocked vertically) and striking blue bill, is an unmistakable sight – if you are actually lucky enough to spot one out in the wild. European populations have markedly declined in the last 10 years due to habitat loss, making this famously elusive waterbird even more of a rarity. It is classified globally Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Due to its furtive behaviour and rarity, this species has not been studied extensively. In recent years, BirdLife and several of its partners have been working to change this. In 2015, the White-headed duck was selected as one of sixteen iconic European bird species for the EU-funded LIFE EuroSAP project which aims to address population decline on a continental scale. SEO-BirdLife Spain, together with AEWA (The African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement), has been coordinating efforts to identify threats and conservation measures to feed into a revised International Species Action Plan.

At the same time, BirdLife’s Kazakh partner ACBK (Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan) has been working to learn more about the migration of the Central Asia population which nests mainly in Northern and Central Kazakhstan and the steppes of Southern Russia.

This summer, ACBK, working with a group of ornithologists from Russia, tagged four White-headed ducks with geolocators at key moulting sites on the lakes of the Tengiz-Korgalzhyn Region of Central Kazakhstan.

Lake Ashchikol has become a popular site for moulting and migration gatherings for many waterbirds – pochards, grebes, coots, Red-necked phalaropes and White-headed ducks. Between the end of August and the end of September, some 2,500 White-headed ducks were counted within a 5 km2 area.

Aleksey Bagaev, one of the participants relates his experience: “We would start our field work at 4am. In the steppe, we would inflate the boat and lower it down onto the water. Then our small flotilla would spread the nets to catch the ducks. On the shore, we would talk tactics. As this bird-catching technique had never been used before, it was difficult to predict the outcome of our operation. We did know, however, that the White-headed duck is a very cautious bird and skilled diver.”

Team leader and ACBK Science Fellow, Alyona Koshkina, also told us a little bit about the work: “We chose lightweight geolocators because safe techniques for attaching heavier equipment onto this small bird have not yet been developed. This is a problem with studying diving ducks generally, as their specific biology must be taken into account. Considering how labour-intensive this process is, the chances of recapturing the same individuals are slim. We can now either perfect this method to improve results or continue looking for a different approach – but this is a challenge for future research projects.”

Though we were only able to tag a small number of birds, we were still able to learn a lot about the behaviour of this mysterious species, which will eventually lead to more efficient research techniques into bird migration. With support from the Rufford Foundation, in 2017 ACBK purchased 33 geolocators that we will use to tag nesting and moulting birds in the coming years.

This tagging work with our Russian colleagues from the NGO Ecological Centre Strizh was conducted as part of the Conservation Leadership Programme Knowledge Exchange project. ACBK has been studying the White-headed Duck since 2013 with support from the Forestry and Wildlife Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve.

Danara Zharbolova – Head of Communications, ACBK (BirdLife Kazakhstan)

Alyona Koshkina (ACBK Science Fellow)

New data on the wintering of White-headed Ducks Oxyura leucocephala in Algeria: here.

New Ice Age rhino discovery in Kazakhstan

This video says about itself:

18 August 2015

Elasmotherium” is an extinct genus of giant rhinoceros endemic to Eurasia during the Late Pliocene through the Pleistocene, documented from 2.6 Ma to as late as 50,000 years ago, possibly later, in the Late Pleistocene, an approximate span of slightly less than 2.6 million years.

Three species are recognised. The best known, “E. sibiricum”, was the size of a mammoth and is thought to have borne a large, thick horn on its forehead. This horn was used for defense, attracting mates, driving away competitors, sweeping snow from the grass in winter and digging for water and plant roots. Like all rhinoceroses, elasmotheres were herbivorous. Unlike any others, its high-crowned molars were ever-growing. Its legs were longer than those of other rhinos and were adapted for galloping, giving it a horse-like gait.

From LiveScience:

‘Unicorns’ Lumbered Across Siberia 29,000 Years Ago

by Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer

March 29, 2016 04:24pm ET

Large, four-legged beasts, each with a single horn growing from its head, once ambled across part of western Siberia, in what is now Kazakhstan.

Sometimes referred to as “unicorns” because of their single horns, these animals were originally thought to have gone extinct 350,000 years ago. However, fossils from a new dig site place the hefty creatures in the region as recently as 29,000 years ago, according to a recent study.

In spite of their magical-sounding nickname, these bruisers share little in common with the graceful and delicate horselike creatures described in song and story and pictured in medieval tapestries. A 1923 publication by paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn estimated the creatures to be larger than any of the modern rhino species. Artists’ reconstructions hint at a burly build and body plan that resemble that of the animals’ extant cousins. And the beasts go by an equally cumbersome name: Elasmotherium sibiricum (ee–laz–moh–THEER–ee–um sih–BIH–rih–cum). [6 Extinct Animals That Could Be Brought Back to Life]

A well-preserved skull

The partial skull that the researchers found was well-preserved and in very good condition overall, though the teeth were missing, the scientists said. Dimensions of features in the skull fragment were considerably bigger than those in any other E. sibiricum specimen yet discovered in Eastern Europe, hinting that the skull most likely belonged to a large, older male, said study co-author Andrey Shpanski, a paleontologist at Tomsk State University in Russia.

“The dimensions of this rhino [described] today are the biggest of those described in the literature,” Shpanski said in a statement.

E. sibiricum is thought to have ranged from the Don River in southern Russia to the eastern part of Kazakhstan, and prior findings showed that the animal had long inhabited the southeastern part of the West Siberian Plain.

Other fossils found alongside the E. sibiricum skull include two upper teeth from a mammoth, the lower jaw of a steppe elephant and pieces of a bison‘s horn stem.

Dating a “unicorn”

To find out how old the fossils were, the scientists used a method known as radiocarbon dating, which they employed to analyze the amount of carbon-14 in the skull pieces. Carbon-14 is a carbon isotope, a variation of carbon with a different number of neutrons in its nucleus (14, in this case). Living plants and animals absorb carbon-14 from the atmosphere as long as they’re alive.

But once an organism dies, the carbon-14 in its body begins to decay at a regular rate that can be tracked over time, until about 60,000 years have passed and all the carbon-14 is gone. By analyzing bones to see how much carbon-14 is left, scientists can tell when the animal was still alive.

Radiocarbon dating told researchers that the E. sibiricum individual died 29,000 years ago, a dramatic divergence from previous estimates placing the species’ extinction at 350,000 years ago.

If the new calculation is correct, the “Siberian unicorn” could have crossed paths with modern humans. An earlier study suggested that humans inhabited the Siberian Arctic as far back as 45,000 years ago, based on the evidence of a butchered mammoth carcass that was likely cut up by hunters.

The new findings were published in the Feb. 2016 issue of the American Journal of Applied Sciences.

Mars spacecraft narrowly avoids exploding booster

This video says about itself:

Replay of the ExoMars 2016 liftoff on a Proton-M rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan at 09:31 GMT on 14 March 2016.

Credit: ESA/Euronews

From Universe Today:

ExoMars Mission Narrowly Avoids Exploding Booster

24 March 2016 by Bob King

On March 14, the ExoMars mission successfully lifted off on a 7-month journey to the planet Mars but not without a little surprise. The Breeze-M upper booster stage, designed to give the craft its final kick toward Mars, exploded shortly after parting from the probe. Thankfully, it wasn’t close enough to damage the spacecraft.

Michel Denis, ExoMars flight director at the European Space Operations, Center in Darmstadt, Germany, said that the two craft were many kilometers apart at the time of the breakup, so the explosion wouldn’t have posed a risk. Still, the mission team won’t be 100% certain until all the science instruments are completely checked over in the coming weeks.

Waterbirds in Kazakhstan counted

This video is called Birds of Kazakhstan. Cinclus pallasii (brown dipper).

From BirdLife:

Kazakhstan’s latest winter census sees fewer waterbirds in more wetlands

By Danara Zharbolova, Tue, 09/02/2016 – 11:18

Waterbirds (birds that live in freshwater habitats) cover tens of thousands of kilometres every year during their annual migration to warmer climates. To help determine their population status and trends, every January over 20 million waterbirds are counted in the Western Palearctic region, and up to 10 million in Sub-Saharan Africa by a network of about 15,000 volunteers for the International Waterbird Census.

The census, which began in 1967 in Europe and Asia, turns 50 this year. Coordinated by Wetlands International, today it covers more than 25.000 sites in more than 100 countries, making it one of the largest global monitoring schemes largely based on citizen science. The data it provides helps conservationists advocate for the right international and national policies to conserve waterbird populations and key wetland sites.

Kazakhstan began conducting its winter census in the central, southern and western parts of the country in 2004. Lead by the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK, BirdLife in Kazakhstan), the data of the winter census is used to identify changes in waterbird numbers and for monitoring key ornithological areas. This year, ornithologists surveyed 15 wetlands and counted more than 130.000 wintering birds from 80 species, including the Mallard, the Eurasian Wigeon, the Common Teal, the Ruddy Shelduck and the Greylag Goose.

The distribution of the species seen was unlike the previous years because of a warmer-than-usual winter that even brought out the crocuses. Wetlands in southern Kazakhstan were not frozen, leading to more sites being available for the birds than usual. For example, in the south, waterbirds were found not just at the Chardara reservoir, but also at the Koksaray, Badam reservoirs and Shohkakol lakes, which normally freeze over in the winter. More birds were also seen in the more northern reaches of the Caspian Sea.

“The weather was… mild and without precipitation. [Only] 40-60% of smaller water bodies in the southern region were covered in ice and birds were recorded on almost all of them, even if not in great numbers,” said Valeriy Khrokov, an ACBK board member. Counts are conducted in January because this is when many waterbird species congregate conspicuously at a relatively small number of sites where they can be readily counted.

Despite overall numbers being within the range of the last few years, some species did see a drop in population, owing mostly to the warm winter, according to experts. In the south, the population of the Mallard (56.800) was half that of 2012-2014, and the population of the Greylag Goose (2.530) was lower than four years ago. On Karakol Lake, the number of Mute Swans dropped from 3.500 to 2.000 between January 12 and January 16, which was much lower than the 14.000 recorded here in previous years.

However, there were some bright spots: the numbers of the Ruddy Shelduck doubled to 10.500 and volunteers counted 1.000 Greater Flamingos as well.

This year was also special for another reason: For the first time, students participated in this important task together with ornithologists. Around 30 students surveyed water bodies with 14 qualified recorders and learned to identify species. As a result, ACBK was able to cover the biggest number of wetlands ever, including all the really important sites.

After several years of collaborative work with regional governments and environmental experts and NGOs, the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK), BirdLife’s partner in Kazakhstan, is proud to announce that Western Tien-Shan was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List: here.

First Danish cosmonaut in space

This video says about itself:

Historic 500th Soyuz rocket sets off from Baikonur

1 September 2015

The 500th Soyuz rocket has successfully lifted off from the Gagarin’s Start launchpad marking a historic milestone for Baikonur Cosmodrome. The spacecraft will deliver three new crew members to the International Space Station.

Russian and Kazakh cosmonauts (Sergey Volkov and Aidyn Aimbetov respectively), along with the first ever Danish astronaut (Andreas Mogensen) have entered history on board Soyuz TMA-18M. The 500th manned rocket launched from the same pad that Yuri Gagarin’s original Soyuz blasted off from on April 12, 1961.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Soyuz slowly blasts off to space station

KAZAKHSTAN: A Russian, a Dane and a Kazakh blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome to the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday.

Andreas Mogensen became the first Dane in space, while Kazakh Aidyn Aimbetov got his chance to go into space when British singer Sarah Brightman pulled out.

The Soyuz spacecraft will take an unusually long two-day flightpath to the ISS due to safety concerns after the station had to adjust its orbit to avoid orbital debris.

Saiga antelope and art in Kazakhstan

Drawing attention to the plight of the saiga through local engagement in community art. Photo: Rory McCann

From BirdLife:

Drawing attention to the plight of the Saiga through school mural painting

By Rory McCann, Mon, 15/06/2015 – 12:40

I am here in Kazakhstan to paint a mural depicting the wildlife of the steppe environment, with a particular focus on the Saiga antelope – a comical-looking yet critically endangered species which originally inhabited a vast area of the Eurasian steppe zone. The Saiga population in Kazakhstan has recently suffered severe losses due to a disease outbreak.

On my second day I meet staff of the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK, BirdLife Partner in Kazakhstan), who tell me one of the main issues for Saiga antelope is that they are being poached, especially by individuals in the remote villages of central Kazakhstan.

Our mural will be made in one of these villages, with the aim of boosting the plight of the Saiga. The mural painting team are Zhanna Aksartova – ACBK’s Conservation Education Coordinator, Ekaterina Aksartova – Zhanna’s sister and ecology student, and myself – Rory McCann – a wildlife artist with a background in conservation.

We travel across Kazahkstan to the village where we will paint the mural.  Its location is the village school, a mighty-looking building built by the government 3 years ago. We hope to have the help of the schoolchildren.

We are shown around the school by the school director and the village leader. I am touched and tickled to be given many business-like handshakes by children as young as three years old!

It’s exciting to introduce ourselves and explain our reasons for being there. We talk about the values of preserving native biodiversity and we launch a drawing competition for the students.

We have eight days to paint the mural!

The first brush strokes are always the hardest, but the fear of ruining a perfectly good wall quickly subsides and mural-painting fever takes over!

The days go by and our mural starts to take shape and so does a growing following of budding young artists. By the third day, I can barely move for all the students who are packed around me producing their own drawings based on the mural painting.

Zhanna and Ekaterina chat to the children and get them involved in activities such as making masks and singing songs about the Saiga. The children seem enthralled by the process – exactly the response we were hoping for!

We run a workshop with the younger competition winners – a series of mini drawing challenges, a master class in drawing eyes, and making Saiga gift cards. The competition winners can paint an animal on the mural.

The final day arrives. We must have the mural finished by 5pm in time for the grand opening. The mural has been sectioned off with curtains across the entrance so that our big unveiling can have maximum dramatic impact!  At 4:45 pm, the brushes are put down for the last time, with a big sigh of relief.

At 5pm, we emerge from behind the curtains to a waiting crowd of students, staff and other villagers. A few minutes of prize–giving, tributes and words of thanks, the curtains are pulled back to reveal the finished mural. More than 25 steppe animals and birds are represented on the mural painting.

The hope is that this project can pave the way for ACBK to conduct further outreach and educational projects in this region with a view to improving the status of the Saiga antelope and other species in the surrounding environment.

The enthusiasm and friendliness of the students has really made this experience a rewarding one for me.

The Mural Project was instigated by the Saiga Conservation Alliance, with funding generously given by Zynga via the Wildlife Conservation Network.

Rory McCann worked for two years at BirdLife’s Global Secretariat office in Cambridge.

Nearly 140,000 of the critically endangered saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica), which lives in the Central Asian steppe, have died suddenly in Kazakhstan, almost half the global population, over a two week period: here.

Mystery sudden death of 200,000 saiga antelopes solved by scientists: here.

The saiga is a Critically Endangered antelope that was originally found almost all over the Eurasian steppes, from Ukraine and Russia all the way to Mongolia. Today, they can only be found in parts of Russia and Kazakhstan due to illegal taking pressures for their meat and horns: here.

Tony Blair, buddy of Kazakhstan dictator

THis video says about itself:

Esenbek Ukteshbayev, President of the independent Kazakhstan trade union federation Zhanartu, speaks about the massacre in Zhanaozen on 16 December 2011. The video also features footage filmed on the day by ordinary people there, which include some distressing scenes.

This short film was kindly put together for Campaign Kazakhstan, for an event the campaign held in London on 2 October 2012.

By Robert Stevens in Britain:

Tony Blair offered advice to Kazakhstan dictator

30 August 2014

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, through his private consultancy, gave Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev advice in 2012 on how to handle criticism following a massacre of protesting workers.

On December 16, 2011 police violently attacked striking oil workers, killing at least 17 people. Some sources claim over 70 people were killed and as many as 800 wounded. At least 70 arrests were made, including three journalists. Striking oil workers were rounded up and allegedly tortured. One worker was beaten so badly during an “interrogation” that he died shortly afterwards at his home.

The massacre followed a lengthy, bitter strike in pursuit of better pay in Kazakhstan’s principal oil-producing region. The oil workers also called for a pay rise for teachers and doctors, and the resignation of Nazarbayev. They were striking in Zhanaozen (at UzenMunayGas, a subsidiary of the Kazakhstan state-owned KazMunayGas), and Aktau (at Karazhanbasmunai, jointly owned by KazMunayGas and the Chinese state-owned CITIC Group). They demanded that UzenMunayGas reemploy 1,800 workers, sacked because they were on strike.

Video footage of the massacre, which can be seen here above, shows a heavily armed column of riot police filmed marching towards and shooting indiscriminately at protesters.

Blair’s letter to Nazarbayev was made public by the Daily Telegraph. Sent in July 2012 on notepaper headed “Office of Tony Blair,” the advice was offered as Nazarbayev was preparing to give a speech at the University of Cambridge that month. Blair suggested the president insert several key passages into the speech in order for it to be acceptable to the “western media”.

The letter stated, “Dear Mr President, here is a suggestion for a paragraph to include in the Cambridge speech. I think it best to meet head on the Zhanaozen issue. The fact is you have made changes following it; but in any event these events, tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made. Dealing with it [the massacre] in the way I suggest, is the best way for the western media. It will also serve as a quote that can be used in the future setting out the basic case for Kazakhstan.” [emphasis added]

The Telegraph reported that Blair enclosed two paragraphs of about 500 words for Nazarbayev to insert into his speech. The newspaper said, “The words written by Mr Blair but spoken by Mr Nazarbayev with some changes, were widely picked up at the time. They were used to portray Mr Nazarbayev as a visionary leader who had improved living standards in his homeland.”

In his delivered speech Nazarbayev gave the Blair script, saying, “These are questions of democracy and human rights, which must be properly addressed and have energy devoted to them.

“I understand and hear what is being said of us by our critics. But we would like this to be done with a certain sense of balance and an objective valuation of the achievements of my country.”

Blair’s letter congratulating the regime on making “enormous progress” was written just a few months after the show trial began of 37 workers and political activists who were arrested following the massacre. They were accused of participating in mass unrest, the destruction and theft of private property and the use of force against government representatives.

Thirteen defendants received multiyear prison terms, with one, Roza Tuletaeva, receiving a sentence of seven years in a prison colony. Sixteen defendants were given suspended sentences, and five were convicted but pardoned. Just three of those on trial were acquitted.

Blair’s letter to Nazarbayev ended with him offering “very best wishes”, saying, “I look forward to seeing you in London! Yours ever, Tony Blair.”

It is little wonder that Blair looked forward to seeing Nazarbayev at the first opportunity. Kazakhstan has reportedly paid £7.6 million each year to Tony Blair Associates (TBA) since October 2011. A number of TBA consultants have operated in the Kazakhstan capital, Astana, since 2011.

Blair established TBA after being forced to resign as prime minister and Labour Party leader in 2007.

According to a spokesperson for Blair, he “personally receives no payment” for his consultancy’s work in Kazakhstan. Another Blair representative said the payments were “not for PR advice but in respect of a full-time team of people who live and work in Kazakhstan working on the reform programme of the government in areas like de-centralisation and local Government reform.”

Whatever the truth of Blair and TBA’s financial relationship with the Kazakhstan dictatorship, his letter to Nazarbayev is only the latest confirmation that he is the go-to man for advice for all manner of blood-soaked dictators and brutal regimes.

In its latest analysis, Human Rights Watch (HRW) concluded, “Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record continued to deteriorate in 2013, with authorities cracking down on free speech and dissent through misuse of overly broad laws.”

In July it was revealed that Blair is to give advice on economic policy to Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. After taking power in a bloody coup last year, al-Sisi heads a military junta committed to restoring the military-police state as it existed under Hosni Mubarak, prior to the 2011 Egyptian revolution. The programme is being paid for by three other antidemocratic regimes—the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

While Blair’s financial shenanigans are infamously hard to decipher, with one prominent journalist devoting considerable time and effort attempting to unravel them, there is no doubt that he has become immensely rich from his consultancy and business connections. According to estimates, his personal wealth stands at £100 million, with his property holdings worth over £25 million.

His public speaking engagements alone have earned him £9 million, with £240,000 reaped for a single speech in China. His consultancy work is even more profitable. A review of the Kuwait economy by TBA was reputed to be worth £27 million. TBA also has a £1 million-a-year contract with the UAE.

Blair has many intimate ties with big business and is involved in the development of a £6 billion gas field off the coast of Gaza. In March British Gas (BG) announced it would be willing to sell its portion of a concession to exploit the gas field known as Gaza Marine. On behalf of Israel, Blair successfully pressured British Gas to negotiatiate with Israel over a plan entailing building a pipeline that would transport the gas to Ashkelon, an Israeli city with a refinery.

Among his other lucrative contracts was one with JP Morgan bank, for which he is paid £2 million per year. British Gas group is a major client of JP Morgan.

All this has been carried out while Blair continues in his role as a Middle East peace envoy on behalf of the United Nations, United States, the European Union and Russia.

Blair was second only to then-US President George W. Bush in planning and preparing the illegal decade-long wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq. He remains an unindicted war criminal who has cashed in spectacularly on his heinous deeds. He personifies the putrefaction of a British ruling elite wallowing in obscene wealth and political filth. A mass movement of the international working class against imperialist war and social inequality will leave no stone unturned in ensuring he and his cohorts will not escape justice.

Tony Blair profits from advising bloody Kazakhstan dictatorship

This video says about itself:

Tony Blair, the 123 million dollar man

12 February 2014

Dubbed the 123 million dollar man, it has emerged that the former British prime minister Tony Blair has racked up a staggering fortune since leaving office in 2007.

He is now so wealthy that he’s set to be included on the prestigious annual Sunday Times Rich List.

His name will reportedly be added to this year’s roll call of Britain’s one thousand most minted people, joining the likes of billionaires Richard Branson and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.

Political writer Phil Scullion said the earnings of a man dubbed a “champagne socialist” would be “hard to swallow” for some.

Blair, now 60, reportedly earned most of his cash through property deals, consultancy and advisory work.

And it seems his son Nicky is following in his dad’s footsteps when it comes to filling up the bank account.

In November, it was reported that the 27-year-old soccer agent raked in 10% from a 10.7 million dollar deal.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Tony Blair advises Kazakh president on publicity after killing of protesters

Former British PM criticised for suggesting strategy following Zhanaozen incident in which police shot dead 15 civilians

Haroon Siddique

Sunday 24 August 2014 19.49 BST

Tony Blair‘s role advising countries with poor human rights records has come under scrutiny again after he gave Kazakhstan‘s president advice on how to avoid his image being tarnished by the killing of 15 civilian protesters by police.

In a letter to Nursultan Nazarbeyev, Blair told the autocratic ruler that the December 2011 deaths, “tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made”. Blair advised Nazarbeyev that when dealing with the western media, he should tackle the events in Zhanaozen, when police opened fire on protesters, including oil workers demanding higher wages, “head-on”.

In the letter, obtained by the Sunday Telegraph he also suggested passages to be inserted into a speech the president was giving at the University of Cambridge aimed at counteracting any bad publicity. One read: “By all means make your points and I assure you we’re listening. But give us credit for the huge change of a positive nature we have brought about”.

The former Labour leader’s consultancy, Tony Blair Associates, set up in the capital, Astana, in October 2011, signing a multi- million pound deal to advise Kazakhstan’s leadership on good governance, just months after Nazarbeyev was controversially re-elected with 96% of the vote and weeks before the massacre.

The government blamed the opposition for events in Zhanaozen, jailing alleged ringleader Vladimir Kozlov amid an international outcry and closing his party.

Activists say Blair’s appointment has produced no change for the better or advance of democratic rights. In its World Report 2014, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the country’s “poor human rights record continued to deteriorate in 2013”. It said torture remained common and referred to restrictions on free speech, dissent and religious worship.

Hugh Williamson, director of the HRW’s Europe and Central Asia division, accused the former prime minister of acting as “a spin doctor for how to best manage the fallout from the massacre,” rather than seeking to effect change. “This letter shows that Blair really has no shame in terms of his work, with respect to Kazakhstan in particular,” said Williamson.

Blair and his companies have been awarded a string of multimillion consultancy contracts with private corporations, dictatorships and regimes, including Kuwait, the UAE and Colombia. In June, a group of former British ambassadors and political figures joined a campaign to call for Blair to be sacked as Middle East envoy, citing, among other things, his “blurring the lines between his public position as envoy” and his private business dealings in the region.

David Cameron became the first serving British prime minister to visit Kazakhstan in July last year.

See also here.