Tom Burgis

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© FT montage/AFP/Getty Images/Dreamstime | Nursultan Nazarbayev

The turmoil in Kazakhstan that has cost at least 160 lives and seen Russian troops on the country’s streets was a quarter of a century in the making.

On November 21, 1995, James Giffen, an American businessman, began to wire tens of millions of dollars to a Swiss bank account. According to US prosecutors, Giffen was acting as a middleman and had received the millions from Mobil, the US oil company that was negotiating to buy a Kazakh oilfield.

Only five years earlier, Kazakhstan had been part of the Soviet empire, its oil and valuable minerals under communist control. Now Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had risen from a job in a metalworks’ furnace to become a top Communist party boss, was in charge.…  Seguir leyendo »