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Kenes Rakishev Questioned Over Links to Ringleader of Attempted Coup

The billionaire oligarch Kenes Rakishev is one of Kazakhstan’s leading entrepreneurs. But reports have emerged that the businessman has been questioned by Kazakh police over his role in the deadly riots that swept the country in January.

Kazakhstan’s President Tokayev has revealed that what started as protests over fuel prices and rampant inequality were seized upon by opponents of the regime who tried to overthrow the government.

The violent insurrection left hundreds dead and thousands more injured as the Kazakh government sought to restore order.

Rakishev is now being questioned over his involvement in the attempted coup. And officials are particularly interested in Rakishev’s links to one of the ringleaders of the unrest.

Arman Dzhumageldiev is a notorious gangster known as ‘Arman the Wild’ in the criminal underworld. He was arrested in January on suspicion of orchestrating the unrest.

Famed for being a champion boxer in Kazakhstan, Arman is now known as one of the country’s most violent mobsters. He is connected to a string of gangland shootings and vicious assaults on politicians.

Footage has emerged of Arman apparently whipping up a crowd of protestors on January 5th in Almaty.

Several days later, Kazakh police arrested the gangster and several accomplices. They also discovered a stash of weapons allegedly belonging to Arman.

Arman is a close friend of Kenes Rakishev. The gangster and the oligarch are believed to have bonded over a shared passion for boxing.

Rakishev, who is President of the Kazakhstan Boxing Federation, even invited Arman to the World Boxing Championship in Belgrade last year as part of the official delegation.

As these pictures show, Rakishev can be seen in the same room as Arman.

Arman, wearing a VVIP lanyard, is seen offering words of encouragement to a boxer ahead of a fight. Meanwhile, Rakishev is seen in the background holding a door open.

So, one of Kazakhstan’s richest men is closely connected to a gangster who was one of the ringleaders of the January violence. One man is under arrest and the other has been questioned by police. Given these revelations, it is worth asking: who is Kenes Rakishev?

Rakishev’s publicity machine would have you believe that he is central Asia’s premier technology entrepreneur.

But, in truth, he made his fortune thanks to family connections. His father-in-law, Imangali Tasmagambetov, was Mayor of the capital city Astana and a close ally of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Internationally, Rakishev is best known for his close friendship with Hunter Biden, son of US President Joe Biden. Rakishev even described Hunter as “my brother from another mother!” Hunter acted as a business fixer for Rakishev in America, encouraging the oligarch to invest in a Nevada gold mine and other projects in New York and Washington DC.

Rakishev was pictured with the Bidens and former Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov in America. Massimov is also under arrest over the January coup.

But it is Rakishev’s friendship with Arman the Wild and growing questions over his involvement in the January unrest that may define his reputation.

Arman found celebrity status in Kazakhstan by presenting himself as a man of the people – donating food to the poor and buying medical supplies during the Covid pandemic.

He is also active on social media and is married to Aikol Alikzhanova, a Muslim women’s fashion designer who won the “Miss Kyrgyzstan” beauty contest in 2014.

But Arman is a violent thug with a long history of criminality. In 2005, he launched a vicious assault on opposition politicians from the “For Fair Kazakhstan” party in his hometown of Shymkent.

Three years later, a rival gangster launched an assassination attempt on Arman and killed two of his bodyguards. Arman was forced to go into hiding in Kyrgyzstan.

From there, he plotted a revenge attack but was arrested in Almaty and jailed for three years for possessing illegal weapons.

Since then, Arman has befriended international crooks and gangsters. Chief among them is Nadir Salifov, a notorious Azerbaijani crime boss believed to be one of the richest criminals in the world until he was shot dead by his own bodyguard in 2020.

Arman has posted dozens of photos online with Salifov, enjoying meals together and on luxury private jets.

Some reports claim Rakishev can be seen with Arman and the notorious crime boss Salifov in this picture…

Given the seriousness of January’s coup attempt in Kazakhstan, it seems there are important questions for Rakishev to answer:

  • Why is a supposedly reputable businessman consorting with one of Kazakhstan’s most notorious gangsters?
  • What did Rakishev know about the riots and the attempt to topple the Kazakh government?
  • And, finally, what was Rakishev’s involvement in the deadly unrest?

David Lintott is a freelance journalist, covering culture, sport and society. He hails from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, which he considers the source of his world-weariness.

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