Thursday, December 22, 2011 -
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has fired his son-in-law Timur Kulibayev following Friday's violence in oil city Zhanaozen, the Reuters news agency reported Nazarbayev as saying on state television on Thursday.
"I will take a decision on the dismissal of the head of Samruk-Kazyna, Timur Kulibayev," Nazarbayev said on state television. Samruk-Kazyna owns 100 percent of KazMunaiGaz (KMG). Many of the workers protesting against low wages since May are employees of Ozenmunaigaz, a subsidiary of KMG.
Nazarbayev made the comments from Aktau, capital of western province Mangistau, as he is meeting with local activists over events that occurred in Zhanaozen.
Kulibayev was long thought to be primed to succeed Nazarbayev when the 71-year-old president eventually steps down. Kulibayev is married to Nazarbayev's second-oldest daughter Dinara, and is considered to be one of Central Asia's most influential people. In October, Forbes ranked Kulibayev to be the most influential businessman in Kazakhstan.
Prior to heading the sovereign wealth fund, Kulibayev served as deputy head under Kairat Kelimbetov. He was appointed as Samruk-Kazyna chief in April.
Kulibayev was touted to be a contender to succeed Nazarbayev by the president's closest confident Yermukhamet Yertysbayev, commonly known as the "president's nightingale," as recently as December 6.
Yertysbayev named Kulibayev as one of three possible successors to the long-serving president.
Kulibayev is estimated to be the third-richest man in the country, with an estimated worth of $1.3 billion.
Nazarbayev recognizes oil workers' demands as 'substantiated'
In a surprising admission, Nazarbayev said many of the demands of the oil workers were justified.
Oil workers were fired illegally by oil companies, including those "who are absent from work for legitimate reasons, were on sick leave or on vacation or so long," state television channel Khabar.kz reported Nazarbayev as saying.
"All this contributed to increased tensions. In general, the requirements of the company's employees have been substantiated. If there were violations of labor discipline on the part of the workers, employers have to remember that these are our citizens and they have not fallen from the moon. They had to listen and support them as much as possible. Unfortunately, this was not done."
The Kazakh leader then called on oil firms to rehabilitate workers and ensure they do not lose wages.
He also said that KazMunaiGaz (KMG) subsidiary Ozenmunaigaz, which had employed many of the striking workers, must be separated from KMG and become a full entity.