How Did Samat Abish End Up in Investigation

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A day after the former head of the KNB’s 5th department, Ruslan Iskakov, said that he carried out the orders of Samat Abish during Qantar, information surfaced that Nursultan Nazarbayev’s nephew is under investigation. has put together a chronology of how the KNB’s former first deputy head’s status changed throughout the investigation.

Military Men

Samat Abish lost his position as the first deputy head of the KNB on January 17. Ever since then, many Kazakhstanis have had question: "Well, when?" Especially after last spring when Abish’s former superior, Karim Massimov, was convicted along with his deputies.

But the initial accusations against Abish came to a naught a month after his resignation. However, they had nothing to do with Qantar.

A former head of the center of military representations of the Ministry of Defense, Colonel Mukhtar Karabekov, had been convicted in 2017 in a corruption case. In February 2022, he stated that Abish demanded that he incriminate the former Minister of Defense, Imangali Tasmagambetov.

According to Karabekov, he only needed to say that he regularly brought money to the Minister. The colonel did not deny that he was in Tasmagambetov's office, but he did not give evidence incriminating the former head.

The offer was indeed tempting. According to Karabekov, Abish promised him nothing less than freedom.

In March 2022, the former commander of Kazakhstan’s Navy, Zhandarbek Zhanzakov, made an even more open statement  – Samat Abish personally ordered to imprison him.

Vice Admiral Zhandarbek Zhanzakov. Photo from the personal archive

According to Zhanzakov, he became an “undesirable” for the KNB, Abish gave the instructions regarding the criminal case to his subordinates and they carried out the order. The reason was the lease of the Navy pier in the Caspian Sea from a private company without competitive procedures.

In 2020, Zhanzakov was sentenced to six years under the article on abuse of power and stripped of the rank of vice admiral. He admitted that the sentence was shocking. In February 2023, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan acquitted him.


But the investigation did not pay mind to the statements made by former servicemen, who were also convicted at that time.

Meanwhile, Abish landed in the investigation only in June 2022. Reports regarding the investigation into the January Events were regularly accompanied by words concerning Abish’s involvement. He, however, had later seemingly disappeared from the public eye.

Ruslan Iskakov has stated he had followed Abish’s orders during the Qantar before - back in January 2023.

He openly said that he was ready to testify against Nazarbayev's nephew. On September 18, at the trial, he simply kept his promise.

Ruslan Iskakov in court / Photo:

Samat Abish is now facing an investigation.

Incidentally, there have been many rumors about Nazarbayev’s nephew over the past year about where he has been. He had reportedly left Kazakhstan.

Ruslan Iskakov's wife, Saule, said in the winter of 2023 that Abish was flying from the UAE to Kazakhstan to be questioned as a witness. In August 2022, He was purportedly receiving treatment in Almaty.

On September 19, the Prosecutor General's Office put all these rumors to rest. Samat Abish is in Kazakhstan and under travel restrictions.

Original Author: Igor Ulitin

DISCLAIMER: This is a translated piece. The text has been modified, the content is the same. Please refer to the original piece in Russian for accuracy. 

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