“She Could Endure for Her Family”: Friends Speak about Aigul Sailybayeva, Former Judge Killed in Germany

cover  Photo: VK Aigul Sailybaeva

Reports on the killing of Aigul Sailybayeva in Germany shook Kazakhstan. Her death is still being investigated. Her brother has said she was subjected to her husband and mother-in-law's abuse. The latter disappeared on the same day as Aigul. How the former judge and Bolashaq program graduate ended up in such a situation is puzzling for many. Aigul's friends have shed light on her personality. They told Orda.kz that the young woman would endure much for her family and never complained. 

Modest, Well-read, Excellent Student

Aigul met Timur Abiyev in the early 2000s. Both studied at KazGUU and became friends. She was a modest, well-read, and excellent student, and he was a KVN participant and a dancer.  

We studied in the same class; she always sat in the front, and I always sat in the back. And there was no way we could have crossed paths with her. She and I were two completely different people. Like black and white, yin and yang recalls Timur Abiyev.
 Photo from the personal archive of Timur Abiev

One day, in the canteen, someone pushed Aigul. This upset Timur, so he caught up to the person and forced him to apologize.

Apparently, she liked this kind of gentlemanly act on my part. She smiled and said thanks. And we began talking. We met at lectures. Aigul turned out to be a wonderful person. She was a super friend. I can count the number of friends like her on my fingers. She was always there. When I got married and became a father, she was one of the first to congratulate me; she always called. She rejoiced with me and worried with me. In 2017, I lost my father. She couldn’t come over because she was on a business trip, but she called and was immediately one of the first to express her condolences. And immediately asked how she could help,he says. 

She Could Endure..

Aigul did not tell Timur about the issues in her family.

She would hardly tell me anything because she knew my personality. If I had found out that Alexander was raising his hand against her, nothing would have stopped me. And, probably, Alexander would have received a powerful blow to the head. I think that's why she didn't tell her brothers. Aigul was not the kind of person who would complain about her life. She would silently endure all the hardships of life and would never burden anyone with her problems,Timur Abiyev said. 

Timur says that Aigul was a selfless person.

This is a person who would jump into a fire so that others wouldn't get burned. She could endure something, I think, for years and keep silent. She would feel unwell, be in pain, but she wouldn't complain, he says.

According to Timur, after her wedding, Aigul became more distant. She eventually stopped speaking to him altogether. 

After the marriage, she completely went off the radar. I wrote to her and asked how she was doing, but she didn’t answer. I thought that she was busy with her family; newlyweds, especially since I am a man, I did not bother to write so that there would be no questions. I thought: 'if she wants to, she’ll write,' Timur Abiyev said.
 Photo: vk.com

 Nothing could have prepared Timur and Aigul's friends for what was to come.

I know her dad has heart problems. Help is simply needed to at least bury her properly. This is all we can do together, with our entire group of classmates. Investigations are currently underway, and the body cannot be transported to Kazakhstan. It may be that it will become untransportable over time and after various examinations, and she will have to be buried there. But all this will be decided by close relatives; we cannot interfere in this; we can only offer help,  he concluded.

“Smiled Wrong"

Aigul talked to her other friend almost every day. The young woman does not want her name to be disclosed, as she fears for her safety. Aigul told her about her husband and mother-in-law's abuse. Problems surfaced later in the relationship.

I learned about Alexander around 2015, after they met and started dating. She said that he was very attentive, that they spoke about their feelings, emotions, shared their fears, some experiences. That he valued her as a woman, she liked his attitude towards her, the friend says. 

The family moved to Moscow in December 2019 and later left for Germany. Aigul constantly spoke about her life with her friend. 

There were a lot of strange things for Aigul. She said that he reacted very strangely to her communicating with friends and relatives. She said that there was a feeling “that they were trying to isolate her.” There were incomprehensible claims against her. Both from the husband's side and from the mother-in-law's side. She put a spoon down wrong, looked wrong, smiled wrong. Didn't brush her teeth properly. There were quibbles over the smallest detail. There was also physical abuse from the husband and mother-in-law, says the young woman.
 Photo: vk.com

According to Aigul's friend, Aigul taught her husband’s sister English for free. This would be at any time of the day. But Aigul, as her friend notes, did her best to adapt.

She was trying to create a family, considering their traditions and customs, to adapt to them. She said that she was getting married to create a happy, friendly family where there would be respect, understanding, and love. She wanted family happiness, a hearth, to fulfill herself as a woman, mother, wife. After all, as a lawyer as a judge, she was fulfilled in her career,  Aigul's friend says.

Aigul Sailybayeva’s status on VKontakte is also noteworthy. She wrote: "And, who said it would be easy? All relationships are complicated. But if you want to be around even when everything is bad, this means it is for real."


Due to the move and maternity leave, Aigul stopped working. She intended to continue working as a lawyer in Germany. Her friend claims the husband’s family wanted the woman to return to work as soon as possible.

She wasn’t going to be anyone’s burden. But, she needed to update and legalize her documents in Germany. She had a strategy for how to do it all. She planned to get a job at a law firm, starting as an assistant. But Alexander won a green card, and they left for Miami. Then, she decided to pursue a career there, but after a while, her husband said that they were returning to Germany. Aigul didn’t know what to do, where to update her documents; there was no specific plan for where they would live, Aigul's friend says.

Aigul began to think about divorce. But she could not leave her daughter.

Alexander, at one point, insisted that she give birth in Germany. He was afraid that if she gave birth in Kazakhstan, she would have stayed here. And she longed to have a daughter. She dreamed of having a daughter. Because of her, Aigul could not leave because the child is a German citizen. She could have left, but the child could not because there was no power of attorney and there was no consent from the father. And he kept all the documents, says friend Aigul. 
 Photo: vk.com

She hopes that with the assistance of Kazakhstan's diplomats, the investigation will be honest and the killer will be found. Aigul’s brother and mother are currently in Germany. 

“Aigul was a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan. I hope that our state will provide maximum assistance in the investigation of this case,the friend said.

Aigul's friend could not hold back her tears.

I will never have such a friend again. She supported me in any situation, always gave wise advice and her love. She was very loyal. I told her all my biggest secrets and knew that they would stay with her. There was absolute trust between us. 
 Photo: vk.com

"I Know A lot"

According to Aigul’s sister Manshuq, her parents were initially against the relationship - he was a foreigner, of a different nationality, and younger. But she convinced her parents. Aigul’s family took a liking to the groom at their wedding. 

I think because of this, she did not share her family situation with her family (due to the fact that her parents were initially against it - Ed. ). Happy all the time. No one even suspected that this was happening in her personal life. Aigulya was generally a very cheerful person. She was good-natured, would never offend anyone, would not say anything bad to anyone, and always smiled at everyone. It’s like she was born with this smile. Manshuq said.

Aigul's family was well-off, but Aigul was humble.

Dad worked as a judge, mother as a lawyer. They did not enjoy a lavish lifestyle but lived in abundance. She was very modest. Didn’t chase money or fame. Studied well at the university. She was, you know, such a 'nerd,' one might say. She studied through Bolashaq. Colleagues who worked with her at the Ministry of Justice say that she was a professional, Manshuq added.

According to Manshuq, Aigul began offering online consultations and legal support in Germany to earn money.

Manshuq also notes that Aigul became closed off after marriage. She told a few people about family problems. 

“She opened up to another cousin. She talked about her personal life, about all the difficulties, about the fact that she couldn’t talk on the phone. When she last came to Almaty, her sister told her: 'Stay here, don’t go back there.' To which she replied that she could not leave her daughter, they could take her away. And she also said: 'Don’t worry about me, I know a lot. They won’t touch me because I know a lot.' And we cannot understand what was meant by this 'I know a lot.' We knew about abuse from what our friends said; they work in the legal field and understand liability; they are unlikely to slander,
 says Manshuq.

She also says that her husband did not immediately raise his hand against Aigul. It all started after they married and left Kazakhstan.

She told her friends that she was subjected to this (domestic abuse - Ed. ) by her mother-in-law and husband. The husband is so aggressive. Earlier, before they began to live together, his attitude towards her was completely different. After they moved to Germany, and his mother began to live with them, as I understood, this is where it all began. And aggression started on his part; as I understood, it was jealousy, she added.

Aigul Sailybayeva disappeared on June 4. The former judge's relatives sounded the alarm; they searched for her for more than a week. On the same day, her mother-in-law, Natalya Dontsova, also disappeared. A passerby found Aigul's body. Investigators are establishing the circumstances of her death. The police assume that the place where her body was found was not the place of her death. 

Original Author: Zhadra Zhulmukhametova

DISCLAIMER: This is a translated piece. The text has been modified, the content is the same. Please refer to the original piece in Russian posted on 20/06/24 for accuracy.