Amid deadly protests in Kazakhstan yesterday, Tony Blair faced renewed scrutiny over his dealings with the country’s regime.
Street battles have gripped Kazakhstan after demonstrations over fuel prices escalated into violent clashes between protesters and police.
Much of the anger was directed at former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled over Kazakhstan for three decades until 2019, and who continued to wield immense power after he stepped down as president.
His authoritarian regime faced international criticism for human rights abuses and in 2011 Sir Tony’s consulting business Tony Blair Associates (TBA) took on a contract to advise the Kazakh government.
Tony Blair is facing renewed scrutiny over his dealings with the Kazakhstan regime
Pictured: Then-PM Blair meets Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev at Downing St in 2006
The controversial deal saw Sir Tony face accusations that he had helped Mr Nazarbayev to ‘spin’ a massacre which saw security forces kill at least 14 during a protest over wages.
The former British prime minister advised the Kazakh leader on how to deal with questions from the Western media about the 2011 shootings, and suggested passages to be inserted into a speech Mr Nazarbayev was giving at Cambridge University in 2012.
In a letter, he said: ‘These events, tragic though they were, should not obscure the enormous progress that Kazakhstan has made.’
After the letter was leaked, opposition groups in Kazakhstan said Sir Tony had ‘blood on his hands’ for helping the regime to whitewash the killings.
The TBA deal with Kazakhstan operated for five years and by the end the consultancy firm was seeking more than £5million-a-year for its services.
Street battles have gripped Kazakhstan after demonstrations over fuel prices escalated into violent clashes between protesters and police
Author and historian Mark Almond tweeted: ‘Kazakhstan’s current protests should remind us that the new-coined chevalier of human rights, Tony Blair, helped the regime to cover up repression there in the past.’
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘He has been an adviser to numerous leaders around the world who would be considered repressive. It is one of the factors that has made his knighthood so contentious.’
Sir Tony has always denied receiving money to ‘whitewash’ Kazakhstan’s human rights record, and insisted he was advising on political reforms and governance, and was not profiting personally.
In 2016, he announced he had wound down his commercial operations. But as recently as 2020 Sir Tony appeared in a video praising Mr Nazarbayev for his leadership.
A spokesman said he was speaking in a personal capacity and had not been paid.
Source: Daily Mail UK