ASTANA -- A nephew of Kazakhstan's former President Nursultan Nazarbaev has gone on trial on charges of fraud and embezzlement.
The Baiqonyr district court in Astana opened Qairat Satybaldy's trial on September 19 after a preliminary hearing into the case on September 16.
Satybaldy was arrested in early March while trying to board a plane heading to Turkey. The probe launched against him is one of a series of investigations targeting relatives and allies of Nazarbaev.
Kazakhstan's Anti-Corruption Agency said late last month that Satybaldy and four other unnamed individuals are suspected of embezzling an unspecified amount of money from the Kazakhtelecom and Transport Service Center companies.
The agency also said at the time that $500 million had been returned to the state treasury and 29 percent of Kazakhtelecom's shares, which had been controlled by Satybaldy, were put back under state control.
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Satybaldy's former wife, Gulmira, was also arrested in March on charges of embezzlement and illegal takeover of a private business.
After unprecedented anti-government protests in early January, the Kazakh government began quietly targeting Nazarbaev, his family, and other allies -- many of whom held powerful or influential posts in government, security agencies, and profitable energy companies.
President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, whom Nazarbaev hand-picked as successor after stepping down in 2019, started distancing himself from the former president after the January unrest, which was fueled by Kazakhs' disgust for cronyism and corruption.
Toqaev stripped Nazarbaev of the sweeping powers he had retained as head of the Security Council after resigning.
Just days after the protests, two of Nazarbaev's sons-in-law were pushed out of top jobs at two major oil and gas companies.
Another son-in-law, Timur Kulibaev, resigned as chairman of the country's main business lobby group, while in late February, Nazarbaev's eldest daughter, Darigha, was forced to give up her parliamentary seat.
Authorities also launched probes against the former father-in-law of Nazarbaev's late grandson, and leaders of a company linked to Nazarbaev's youngest daughter Aliya.
In June, Toqaev said he had created a commission to 'return cash illegally taken out of Kazakhstan' by 'a narrow circle of people who had illegally taken over the larger portion of the country's wealth.'
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036