Kazakh president's daughter's political ambitions become nuisance for father

The Kazakh president's eldest daughter has an arsenal any politician would envy: a political party, a seat in parliament and control over the country's biggest media group.

What Dariga Nazarbayeva no longer has is her authoritarian father's political blessing. Analysts say President Nursultan Nazarbayev is moving to cut down his 43-year-old daughter's growing clout.

It's a Byzantine family feud with high stakes. Some analysts see the daughter as the main challenger to her father's rule and say the outcome could decide whether oil-rich Kazakhstan emerges from decades of iron-fisted politics.

Petr Svoik of the opposition alliance "For a Fair Kazakhstan" says the daughter recognizes the need for political liberalization, while 65-year-old Nazarbayev, elected to another seven-year term in a December vote that Western observers and the opposition said was flawed, wants to maintain an authoritarian system.

"Dariga is objectively the main claimant to the throne," he said. "For Nazarbayev, anyone who is trying to take his place is an enemy, even if it's his own daughter."

Clouds began to gather over Nazarbayeva when the Information Ministry announced in May it planned to take over her media group's powerful Khabar TV channel and threatened to strip the license from its other popular channel, KTK.

It followed a bitter propaganda war between rival groups triggered by the shocking Feb. 11 killing of opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbayev, 43, a former government minister and ambassador to Russia. He was the second prominent critic of Nazarbayev killed in three months.

The crisis highlighted Nazarbayeva's hold on major media in this ex-Soviet republic of 15 million people and, more importantly, showed that her interests do not always coincide with her father's.

She demanded the resignation of one of the president's closest associates, Senate speaker Nurtai Abykayev, after one of his subordinates was named the main suspect in the slaying, reports AP.


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