Kazakh business leader who bought Prince Andrew's estate resigns amid anger over corruption
A billionaire Kazakh, who once bought a Berkshire mansion from Prince Andrew, has resigned as chairman of a club for business leaders in Kazakhstan, part of a power struggle within the elite triggered by unrest.
Timur Kulibayev, worth an estimated £2.1 billion, is the son-in-law of former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev. In 2007, he bought the Sunninghill Park estate, given to Prince Andrew as a wedding present by the Queen, for £15 million.
Mr Kulibayev bought Prince Andrew's estate for £3 million above the asking price. The Duke’s office later attempted to facilitate a meeting between Mr Kulibayev and representatives of Coutts, the Queen’s bank.
The deal came amid warming relations between the British establishment and Kazakhstan ruling elite. Sir Tony Blair and several New Labour allies also cultivated links with the Nazarbayev regime.
Mr Kulibayev's downfall is an insight into the struggle for power in Kazakhstan that has pitted Mr Nazarbayev against his successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Mr Nazarbayev's two other sons-in-law have also been fired as heads of two Kazakh oil and gas companies.
The 55-year-old and his wife still own Kazakhstan's largest bank, Halyk Bank, but media said that he had sold an 85 percent stake in a Kazakh fertiliser producer.
The initial spark for the demonstrations was a sharp rise in the price of fuel in the west of the country but this was quickly overtaken by corruption complaints against Mr Nazarbayev, who ruled over Kazakhstan for 28 years until 2019.
In the Caspian Sea city of Aktau in west Kazakhstan, it is easy to find people who want to see the back of Mr Nazarbayev.
"The corruption was too much. He has to go," a 21-year-old student said.
Although the unrest has emboldened ordinary Kazakhs to speak out, most are still too afraid to give their full names. A trade union official in Aktau said that he had been fired for talking to Western media.
Government officials have said that 225 people have been killed during the unrest, up from an earlier figure of 164, and reports have emerged of unarmed civilians being shot dead.
In the centre of Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, armed gangs appeared to hijack the anti-government protests to loot shops and burn down government buildings. In response to the violence, Mr Tokayev ordered soldiers to fight the armed men.
Dana Zhanay, an Almaty-based human rights activist, said that one of her colleagues was killed on January 6 in the violence.
"Two bullets went through her right chest," she wrote on Twitter. "She was covered in bruises, the back of her head was shattered."