In seventeenth century, at times of Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu had great political influence over French king; practically he was ruling the country. That is how expression of “power broker” got popular; it describes a person who makes most of governmental decisions being in the shadow. As a rule many people heard about them but few have trustworthy information. However, in critical situations such “shadows in the power” are most important decision makers fulfilling functions of political moderators. Internet resources consider that role of such “power broker” in Kazakhstan business and politics is given to Bulat Utemuratov. There is another major distinction of this person from others – he is the only governmental official in Kazakhstan who is the member of billionaires list according to “Forbes” magazine. Here is our hero of Internet portrait – Bulat Zhamitovich Utemuratov.
Life path of Bulat Utemuratov is surprisingly saturated and meandering. Despite of (or maybe owing to) frequent changes of governmental positions, participation in almost all possible scandals, political vortexes and inter-elite fights, which is not rare for Kazakhstan, he is still one of the closes person to the head of the country for fifteen years by now.
The phenomenon of kazakh Cinderella
Position of operating affairs of the President is given to Bulat Utemuratov quite recently. Nursultan Nazarbayev signed this order in March 2006 dismissing him from position of Kazakhstan Security Council Secretary. Simultaneously he was dismissed from position of chairman in NCDA (National Commission on Democratic Affairs) which he held in 2004-2006. Interesting moment is that most repressive governmental institution in USSR had similar abbreviation but neither Nazarbayev, nor his team could come up with another name. Before all these long-waited positions Utemuratov has gone through serious school of komsomols (young communist school), gastronome, and diplomacy. He was born in 1957 in Atyrau city (at Soviet times – Guryev city), graduated from Almaty agricultural university (source http://www.ca-oasis.info/news/?c=1&id=18998).
Long ago, in 1981 he starter carrier as teacher of Almaty agrarian university, however in one year gone into retail business – best dream of many at times of soviet deadlock era. Within only two year he has become director of largest supermarket in capital city – “Yubileyny” and this is from the position of modest senior inspector. Today this may seem mystical and strange however this position has been best jumping off for Bulat Zhamitovich which brought him to powerful positions. In 1983 he was appointed as head of Auvezov district food retail, and already three years later he was deputy chairman of district executive committee in the same Almaty district, where he stayed last four years from Kazakhstan gained sovereignty. In 1990, on the threshold of independence our hero found his fate in the face of that time minister of external economic affairs (Syzdyk Abishev, relative of the President). First he becomes head of department and later head of administration in named ministry. People that have been working with him at that time underline that he mostly kept silence and had temperate and neat character. It is considered that these characters and devotion to the chief determined future carrier growth of our hero. In 1992-1993 he was general director of Kazakh trading house in Vane, Austria. At that time anything that could be sold from Kazakhstan was sold in such trading houses (source: http://www.nomad.su/?a=3-200208290012).
In the end of 1995 our hero transfers himself into diplomatic work – ambassador for special missions and later ambassador in Switzerland, where he stayed until 1999. At the same period he made friendship with Mark Rich, and “Mark Rich Corporation”, renamed to “Glencore International AG” soon was present on Kazakhstan market. Company purchased several large enterprises in Eastern Kazakhstan and create “KazZinc” holding. Later Rich was mentioned in many exotic scandals together with well-known Gaydamak who was trading weapons and diamonds in Angola, providing necessary equipment to Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein and was convicted for 300 prison year by US courts however received forgiveness and released.
Such people are seen among business partners: bukharin jewish and first Israel Hasid Lev Levayev (with the help of Utemuratov Levayev acquainted Tsenlinny mining-chemical industrial complex – uranium), friendly family of peaceful constructors – Ben Laden family (won general tender for building new capital – Astana), there is an information that by request of one of the Laden’s brothers another Laden brother send container with “nuclear elements” from Kazakhstan to Taliban, arrested by customs controls in Uzbekistan last April (2000, editor) (source: http://iicas.org/articles/anv_07_03_01.htm).
One of the main characteristics of Bulat is patience and ability to wait for his time to come, flexibility and ability to go into shadow, become unnoticeable putting others before the angry boss (source: http://www.nomad.su/?a=3-200208290012).
Now days «Nouveau riche»
According to Forbes magazine now Kazakhstan has eight official billionaires including Bulat Utemuratov http://roberts-report.blogspot.com/2008/03/puppet-master-mr-utemuratov-comes-out.html however they simultaneously underline that Forbes know only about open part of Utemuratov’s finances, but in reality there could be much more.
In 1995 Utemuratov together with Holland bank Mees Person established Almaty Trade Financial Bank (ATF bank). Head of director’s council and crediting committee was appointed Timur Kulibayev – husband of Dinara, with maiden name of Nazarbayeva. With such good support and correct tactics bank started to grow. Overall tactics was attracting most “tasty” clients in the country “Kazakhoil”, “Khabar”, “Kaztransoil”, “Altyn Alma”, “Zangar”, etc.
Just before the departure to Switzerland as an ambassador Utemuratov left his business in ATF. According to experts he sold his share to Timur Kulibayev and he became main shareholder. In February 1999 Nazarbayev appoints Utemuratov as his adviser in “external political and economical affairs”. Returning to fatherland Kulibayev through affiliated companies (JSC “Fintrade”, LTD “ATERA Capital”, “Cormoto BV”, “Reson Holding AG”) repurchase controlling share of ATF Bank. Kayrat Satylganov is left as chairman of board of management and his first deputy – Serik Svyatov (by the way, his brother – Bolat Svyatov is the director of Aksu (Yermak) factory of ferroalloys which is part of Mashkevich – Shodiyev empire) (source: http://www.ca-oasis.info/news/?c=1&id=18998).
Except for financial business, Kazakhstan experts consider that Utemuratov owns media business as well, which he started to get control of since 2000. In particular TV and newspaper company “31 Chanel”, Internet-newspaper “Navigator”, newspaper “Megapolis”. In other words everything for victory, for political victory of Nursultan Nazarbayev on elections of course. There are also rumours that Utemuratov transferred part of media business to youngest daughter of Nazarbayev – Aliya (rumours are of course because official information regarding the owners is closed). According to analytics Utemuratov own a lot of other things as well mainly most liquid assets (source: http://www.ca-oasis.info/news).
Advisor of Nursultan Nazarbayev personally charters an airplane on the route Moscow – Astana – Moscow – Paris – Moscow – Astana – Moscow. Only this fact raises such question as: where does this governmental official has such huge amount of money from… Further you can sea more – in Paris airport customs control inspect both Luchanski and Utemuratov, without taking into consideration his words about high governmental position and diplomatic inviolability. What do they find from modest governmental official from not the most reach country? Something hard to explain – undeclared large sum of money, exactly 831200 dollars. Utemuratov could not give good explanation as where these money have been taken from, thus they were seized by French customs control. Most interesting is that it happened in September 8, 2000 and since that our respected advisor of the President did not even try to receive his money back. Thus it is already half a year that they are located in the customs control (source: http://uisrussia.msu.ru/docs/nov/2000/30/nov_2000_30_14.htm).
Manager of Presidential affairs combined “office work” with business. Recently, (in 2007 editor) Bulat Utemuratov and his two suns sold more than 85% of ATF Bank shares that belonged to them. Client – largest financial group in Europe from Italy, UniCredit. This way family of the manager of presidential affairs will soon have “free” 1.7 billion dollars. Moreover the deal must be done by the end of this year, thus they will receive half of the pure profit made by the bank in 2007. Italians make largest banking purchase ever done by foreigners in Kazakhstan. Maybe in some other country it would have caused many questions: one of the top governmental officials operates with billion dollars before everybody. However Kazakhstan does not like “Chinese” ceremonies – if governmental official want to have business let him have it (source: http://www.ca-oasis.info/news/?c=1&id=18998).
Utemuratov of course underlines that now foreign resources serve the Master, but such influential person could have been truly owning such modest property as fifth bank in Kazakhstan (minimum for his loyalty)… It is possible that nobody would have known about his fortune if not for financial crisis which forced him to sell shares of ATF Bank. However we must consider that some internal information helped him once more, which helps him to run in front of everybody (source: http://roberts-report.blogspot.com/2008/03/puppet-master-mr-utemuratov-comes-out.html)
Moderator of political processes or problem solver
In modern Kazakhstan politics we can name only 2-3 figures who comply with the role of “power broker”: Marat Tazhin, Bulat Utemuratov and maybe Nurtay Abykayev. Up until February 2006 role of “shadow power” on the relation of “government – opposition” was fulfilled by Altynbek Sarsenbayev. His sudden death lead to dissolution of stabilization model mechanisms and brought to several political shocks, which are continuing today (source: http://www.apn.kz/publications/article4866.htm).
According to informed witnesses Bulat Utemuratov was in close relationships with disgraced Muhtar Ablyazov. At one time (exactly in 1999 when Ablyazov was minister of energy, industry and trade) Utemuratov with the help of protégé Ablay Myrzahmetov was actively trying to redistribute energy Pri-Irtysh complex. Later when there was a seen possibility that Muhtar Kabulovich could go under court many governmental officials have been discussing this issue with him. Some say that Bulat Utemuratov was one of them and that was him who assured his disgraced friend to stick to most radical position. Of course rumours are only rumours but if they are at least partly true then such words as “he can go into shadow on time and put somebody else under attack” does not look like exaggeration anymore (source: http://www.nomad.su/?a=3-200208290012).
Actually Bulat Dzhamitovich’s known talents were also demanded in solving most delicate problems on international level as well. Thus respectable publication in the West, the Financial Times underlines his participation in “Kazakhgate” scandal: “Bulat Dzhamitovich, Nazarbayev’s close advisor in October 2001 asked Mr. Cheney (USA Vice president Richard Cheney – editor), to help them solve this problem hoping that ex oil giant would highly value strategic importance of Kazakhstan and would be supportive (source источник: http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/7241-16.cfm)
Main credo of Utemuratov is problem solver, who is one of the most influential power brokers in the circle of Nursultan Nazarbayev, Utemuratov is considered as person who washes off shadow capital of the Family. His business partners are Luchanski, Vyahirev, Makarov, Gaydamak, Levayev. Goal of the group: closing “Kazakhgate” scandal at least for short term because it prevents further cooperation with western banks, holding strong positions in politics and economics. Continuation of receiving certain percentage from deals conducted in oil and metallurgy industries. Black PR for the members of the family and group. Strategic goal – creation of large capital reserves for financing 2004-2005 elections, establishment an popularization of quasi opposition “Azamat”, “31 Channel” for legalization of next regime (source : http://www.spik.kz/?tpl=print&lan=ru&id=104&pub=819).
Return of Mr. Sarsenbayev to governmental bodies was done by secretary of Security Council of Kazakhstan Bulat Utemuratov. This high ranking official currently is fulfilling very delicate mission, decrease the scale of the “Kazakhgate” scandal and ensure that President of Kazakhstan and his family will not suffer anyhow and that not any suit courts would be filed. Bulat Utemuratov must understand that currently reputation can be cleaned up only by changing some high ranking officials in the country (source: http://iicas.org/articles/anv_07_03_01.htm).
Rumours say that it was due to Utemuratov that certain information regarding scandal with Belgian company “Tractebel” in Astana leaked into public. This was in 1998-1999 when it was supposed that “Tractebel” branch company “Intergas Central Asia” soon will leave Kazakh market.
According to Belgian newspapers “Suar” and “Suar illustre”, his role (Utemuratov’s) was not the last in the business of discrediting partners from “Tractebel” in Kazakhstan (group of Alexander Mashkevich), which received less international attention, than “Kazakhgate”. However there have been accusations of top governmental officials of receiving bribery from Tractebel through group of Mashkevich. According to “Le Mond Renesegneman” this provocation was developed by Bulat Utemuratov on the meeting with George Luchancki, Shabtay Kalmanovich and Eric Van de Veg in Fall 1999 (source: http://shymkent.kz/kaznews/criminal/2008-05-07/garry).
So by concluding our notes we have to say that up till today Bulat Dzhamitovich perfectly hides in the shadow. Recently mass media was constructing ratings of most “closed” governmental officials in Kazakhstan. Nobody remembered about Utemuratov at that time, otherwise he would definitely take first place (source: http://www.nomad.su/?a=3-200208290012).
Friend to everybody
Thus exceptional character of Bulat Dzhamitovich which makes him irreplaceable moderator of political process in the country is his influence not only in “presidential circle” but among opposition members as well.
Why trustworthy supporter of the President has good business and maybe personal relations with enemies of the Master? Thing is that Bulat Dzhamitovich as a true businessmen works with anybody who can help him. “Marc Rich Corporation”, Lev Levayev, Rakhat Aliyev and even peaceful family of Ben Laden constructors – this is only some examples of his business partners, and thus it is not surprising that most ideological oppositionists are among them as well.
Not openly but several times underlined that he is willing to cooperate with any political party which can take supreme power. That he is not going to blindly protect interests of present boss. He was supporting Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK) when it included representatives of national bourgeoisie, later when few members of DCK established “Ak Zhol” Party, he supporter new party. It was seen that when “Ak Zhol” was getting separated Utemuratov could make up his mind, whom to support, Baymenov who stayed in the party or Sarsenbayev, Zhandosov and Abilov. Seems that he made the choice to support later…
In general it could be said that Bulat Utemuratov could support any team who can claim supreme power in the Republic at the times of election. For now he is supporting Nursultan Nazarbayev, what can change tomorrow? For example he would exactly know that West is planning to change government in Kazakhstan, in this case we would definitely have any evidence that Bulat Dzhamitovich would be in other camp. And this will be done in shadow, unnoticeably, with any proves. For now there is nothing that could help us understand that Utemuratov changed his passion. But everybody has to be very careful, if our hero which start changing his political orientation this might mean that there will major political changes in Republic of Kazakhstan (source: http://www.dumaem.ru/ index.php?iq=st_show&lid=0&page=1&pr_id=0&rm_id=0&st_id=327&tm_id=0).
For sometime Bulat Utemuratov had to come out of shadow of the First person and openly operate in the politics. He became head of National Commission on Democratic Affairs – NCDA. You do not have to be genius to understand that NCDA is the strongest project of the presidential team for elections, and opposition could be say anything against it, except for foolishly boycotting its activities. Appointment of Utemuratov on this position underlines that people on the top know about his relationship with certain radicals from opposition camp, in particular with Altynbek Sarsenbayev. Ex minister of information helped Utemuratov to publish serial of articles regarding stealing in NC “Kazakhstan Railways”, such as in oppositional newspaper “Republic, Business observer”. It is not excluded that scandal with Orazaly Yerzhanov, ex head of “Nauryz” Bank which included Yerlan Atamkulov, head of Kazakhstan Railways and Imangali Tasmagambetov, ex head of presidential administration and currently mayor of Almaty city, was initiated by Utemuratov (source: http://www.dumaem.ru).
Advisor of President of RK Yermuhamet Yertysbayev gives an answer to Liter questions
- Having control over both commission and Security Council underlines those internal problems on political arena is danger for the country? Or it is just Bulat Utemuratov is so different in character solving both issues?
- Probably the second. Bulat Utemuratov is well respected in certain oppositional circles, especially among Ak Zhol members. With many of the Utemuratov worked together in Administration of the President. President has been thinking for quite long whom to trust this National Commission. There was a need for somebody whom opposition respects and trusts. Another thing is that Utemuratov is working with the President for long period of time, those President trust him all important governmental positions.
- Do you know Utemuratov well, what can you tell about him?
- Very smart, communicative, penetrating, far-seeing and most important he does not support any power using methods in politics, considering that it is always possible to come to an agreement. And in politics search for compromises is the main basic idea (source: http://www.liter.kz/site.php?lan=russian&id=151&pub=640).
It is interesting to note that first meeting with party members tool place in the eve of first meeting of NCDA. Symbolic abbreviation of the Commission which is successor of Continuously Acting Democratic Conference is headed by secretary of Security Council Bulat Utemuratov, which led us to make analogues with 1930s when similar abbreviation was used for most repressive government body. Only in our country it is possible that military person would be heading Commission on Democratization. Probably it is forgivable for the country which is in the process of transferring from totalitarian to democratically developed regime (this is according to government politicians). This is even more so if it is expected that Bulat Utemuratov will be key figure in opposition and present officials dialogue since it is not a big secret that secretary of Security Council was conducting many negotiations with leaders of various oppositional parties (source: http://www.materik.ru/index.php?section=analitics&bulid=98&bulsectionid=9021).
Neither in private meetings nor in open conferences I never called regional leaders to go against their central offices, moreover I never called parties for fighting with each other” – underlined Utemuratov. Moreover he says that nobody tried to compare parties to each other and did push them for confrontation because it goes against goals and mission of the Commission. “These are not constructive methods which will not give any benefit” (source: http://www.spik.kz/?lan=ru&id=100&pub=1065).
When one of the most out of principle, slippery, lucky and smart activist of French revolution epoch Talleyrand died many Paris citizens asked each other in humorous manner: why did he need to do that, what did he gain from it? Of course, Bulat Dzhamitovich Utemuratov is far from being Talleyrand but there is something similar between him and politician who started his career with signature under capital sentence of the king, who held top positions both at times of Directory and Napoleon Bonaparte, who then later betrayed them without any punishment, and who ended his life as duke and dignitary at times of last Bourbons. Maybe these similarities are rational foresight, good awareness and thoroughness care (source: http://www.titus.kz/?type=kz&previd=865).
Well we can only envy to faire tale richness of Bulat which he collected on niche of government services and his surprising strength in coupe with good abilities to stay in power as “power broker” of Kazakhstan politics and business. For more than fifteen years he is acting as problem solver of many issues including inter elite clashes, fulfilling most delicate missions related to cooperation between top Kazakh government officials and western countries. He is trusted compromiser in dialogue between government and opposition; he is shadowed billionaire and highly qualified puppeteer who has wide international relations including people with doubtful reputation. At least such image is built from observing Internet resources which discussed characters of most enigmatic and influential person in political arena of the country. That is why there is high interest towards Bulat Dzhamitovich. Maybe this is one of the main reasons why Kazakhstani «Richelieu» for present time is under stronger cover than ever.
Bulat Dzhamitovich Utemuratov
Managing of Republic of Kazakhstan President’s activities
Birthday: November 13, 1957.
Birth place: Kazakh SSR; Guryev city.
Marital status, relatives:
Wife – Azhar Abzhaliyevna Utemuratova;
Children: sons – Alidar and Anuar.
Kazakh, Russian, English.
Education, specialization (qualification) and licenses:
Almaty agricultural university (1981), Economics;
Member of MAI academy.
Teacher in Almaty agricultural university (1981-1982);
Senior inspector of Almaty city trade (1982-1983);
Deputy Director, Director of “Yubileyny” gastronome, Almaty city (1983-1985);
Director of Auvezov district food trade, Almaty city (1985-1986);
Deputy chairman of Auvezov district executive committee, Almaty city (1986-1990);
Head of RK Ministry of external economical relations department(1990-1992);
General director of Kazakhstan trading house in Austria (1992-1993);
Deputy minister of external economical relations (1993-1994);
First deputy of RK industry and trade ministry (06.1994-11.1995);
Special ambassador of RK Ministry of External Affairs (11.1995-02.1996);
Extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of RK in Switzerland, permanent representatives of Kazakhstan in UN and other international organization in Geneva (02.1996-02.1999);
RK President’s advisor on external political and external economical relations (02.1999-06.2003);
Secretary of Security Council of RK (16.06.2003-28.03.2006);
Managing RK President’s Affairs (с 28.03.2006).
Party membership: Member of “Nur Otan” NDP political council
Governmental and international awards, bonuses and honorary titles: Insignia “Kurmet” (2002);