Aliyev, Rakhat

Gender: .
State of concern: .

Who, Why and How exiled:

Former son-in-law and prominent political opponent of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. During his marriage to Dariga Nazarbayev, he held prominent positions of power, including vice-Foreign Minister, chief of the Kazakh tax police and deputy-head of the Kazakh secret police (Paterson, 2015).

He and President Nazarbayev fell out in 2007, the same year in which he was divorced and accused of kidnapping the Nurbank's president and chairman ( The Guardian, 2015).

He was serving as his country's ambassador in Austria at the time of his accusal, where he chose to stay. He left Austria after prosecutors opened an investigation into the accusations made against him. He lived in Malta between 2010 and 2014 (Malta Today, 2015).

Category of exile: . (Definitions here.)
Alleged affiliation: Former insider.

Which stages experienced: Stage 1   Stage 2   Stage 3. (Definitions here.)
Date of most serious incident: 2015.
Violence experienced: .

Stage 1 details (accusations/ charges/ Interpol notice/ extradition requests):

Accused of involvement in the kidnap and murder of two Kazakh bankers in 2007. Kazakhstan convicted him in absentia in 2008 of kidnapping, treason and plotting a coup against the president. The bodies of the bankers were found in 2011, prompting a demand for his extradition to stand trial for murder. (Paterson, 2015)

Stage 2 details (arrest/ detention/ extradition):

Turned himself in to Austrian authorities in June 2014. Austria refused the extradition request made years previously due to Kazakhstan's poor human rights record. (Malta Today, 2015).

Stage 3 details (attack/ abduction/ rendition/ torture/ assassination/ death):

Died in prison in Vienna in February 2015 whilst in investigative custody. Found hanging from a noose made of gauze bandages. Unclear whether he committed suicide or was killed. The prison governor asserted that nobody entered his solitary cell in the time window in which his death occurred. His lawyer cited suspicious circumstances including that Aliyev was shortly due to testify against two fellow prisoners who he alleged had threatened to murder him and make it look like a suicide. (Paterson, 2015) An expert's report on behalf of Aliyev's lawyer has shown that he has been murdered (Ricardo Peyerl, Karl Oberascher, 2016).

Other actions during Stages 1–3 (dispossession/ overseas assets frozen/ intimidation/ action against associates/ …):

The lawyers representing the dead bankers are accused of belonging to a cover organisation for the Kazakh secret service, answerable to President Nazarbayev. (Paterson, 2015)

International arrest warrant: .

Countries of transit, asylum and/or residence: , .

Legal status (refugee/ asylum seeker/ resident):

Applied for a Cypriot passport in 2013 (Malta Today,  2015).

Current status:

Deceased. An Austrian judge ruled that his death was not a murder in December 2015 (The Guardian, 2015).

An expert's report on behalf of Aliyev's lawyer has shown that he has been murdered (Ricardo Peyerl, Karl Oberascher, 2016), however, the austrian public prosecutor's office does not re-open the case (W.Z., 2017) but Aliyev's lawyers will keep fighting (RFE/RL, 2017)

Press sources:

Ewen MacAskill and Luke Harding, "Ex-Kazakhstan official was not murdered in Austrian jail, judge rules," The Guardian, December 17, 2015.[Online] Available at:;

Malta Today, "Austrian judge rules Rakhat Aliyev was not murdered in jail," December 17, 2015 [Online] Available at:;

Tony Paterson, "Rakhat Aliyev: Claims of murder over death of rival to Kazakhstan's president in Austrian prison," The Independent, March 15, 2015.[Online] Available at:;

Ricardo Peyerl, Karl Oberascher, (2016) Gutachten: Rakhat Aliyev wurde ermordet. [online] Available at:[Accessed 3 Feb. 2019];
W.Z., (2017) Fall Aliyev für Staatsanwalt beendet. [online] Chronik - Nachrichten - Wiener Zeitung online. Available at:[Accessed 3 Feb. 2019];
RFE/RL (2017) Lawyers For Kazakh President’s Late Son-In-Law Vow To Fight On For Murder Probe. [online] RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Available at[Accessed 3 Feb. 2019].