Ministers have been urged to freeze more than Â£ 600million in UK assets held by Kazakhstan’s ruling elites after the country’s government opened fire on protesters in the streets.
Amid violent unrest linked to soaring energy prices and corruption, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called on the soldiers to “open fire with deadly force.”
The brutal crackdown prompted the government to consider sanctions on property and other wealth held in the UK by top regime figures and their allies.
The sprawling mansions of central London and Surrey are among the estates owned by the Kazakh elite. Assets worth Â£ 370million belong to the family of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, according to Transparency International.
Tom Tugendhat, the Tory MP who chairs the foreign affairs committee, said the government should consider sanctioning these assets.
“Those who violate the human rights of their citizens should not be able to enjoy the privilege of holding wealth in the UK,” he said. “We must be clear with the Kazakh elites that their actions will be scrutinized and that their property is in danger.”
Conservative MP Andrew Murrison, former foreign minister, also called on ministers to be “much more robust” in their defense of pro-democracy forces in the country.
Properties amassed by Kazakh elites include a âbillionaire rankâ mansion in Hampstead, north London, owned by Dariga Nazarbayeva, a senior politician and daughter of Nazarbayev, and Nurali Aliyev, her son.
Meanwhile, Timur Kulibayev, a powerful gas oligarch married to another of Nazarbayev’s daughters, owns a sprawling mansion in Surrey. It is being built on the site of Sunningwell Park, near Windsor Castle, which was bought from Prince Andrew for Â£ 15million.
Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK, said the true UK property portfolio of Kazakh figures would likely exceed Â£ 600million as some were obscured by complex ownership structures.
Liz Truss, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, condemned the violence in Kazakhstan but did not promise action.
Professor John Heathershaw, an expert on Central Asian politics at the University of Exeter, said: âThe test for the UK government is whether it is willing to take sanctions against members of the elite who can still have some influence in a country that sees us as an ally and where we are one of the top five trading partners.