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Meet the Tokayevs Journalists trace real estate in Russia to Kazakhstani president’s ex-wife and son

Source: Meduza
Mikhail Mettsel / TASS

Precious little is known about the immediate family of Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. But according to a recent investigation from RFE/RL’s Russian Service and Current Time TV, Tokayev’s ex-wife and son are both closely connected to Russia. Indeed, according to media reports, Tokayev’s ex-wife is a Russian citizen. And both she and her son have been linked to pricey real estate in and around Moscow. More recently, their ownership of two apartments in the Russian capital appears to have been covered up in Russia’s federal property database. Meduza summarizes the investigation’s findings here.

During a virtual meeting on January 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin accidentally addressed Kazakhstani President Kassym Jomart Tokayev by the wrong name. The name Putin used, Kemel, belonged to Tokayev’s late father — a well-known journalist and author, credited with introducing the detective genre to Kazakh literature.

Tokayev wrote an entire memoir about his father, but significantly less is known about the rest of his family. When Tokayev became president of Kazakhstan in 2019, journalists noticed that he wore a wedding ring. Later, the ring disappeared. 

Tokayev’s official website says he’s divorced and has a son named Timur. And according to a recent investigation by Radio Svoboda (RFE/RL’s Russian service) and Current Time TV, the Kazakhstani president’s ex-wife and son are both closely connected to Russia.

As reported in the press, Tokayev’s ex-wife is a Russian citizen named Nadezhda Davydovna Tokayeva (she reportedly hails from Nizhny Tagil). Her passport number has popped up online on multiple occasions, including in leaked databases of personal information. According to the Russian Interior Ministry’s passport verification service, the leaked document is still valid. Citing Kazakhstani media, Radio Svoboda and Current Time TV write that Tokayeva’s Russian citizenship could have been the reason the couple divorced when her husband took over the presidency in 2019.

Reportedly, Tokayev was still married when he served as director-general of the United Nations Office at Geneva in 2011–2013, and his wife was the honorary president of the UN Women’s Guild. 

Earlier, from 2005–2009, Nadezhda Tokayeva was registered in Moscow as an individual entrepreneur who rented out housing. As the journalists learned, she owned several pieces of real estate in the Moscow region, including a house in Abramtsevo — a village known among local residents as “the generals’ dachas” (during the Soviet period, particularly in the Stalin era, high-ranking military personnel were given land plots there). In 2008, Tokayeva sold one of her summer homes to journalist Evgenia Lavut and her husband, producer Evgeny Gindilis; according to Lavut, during the sale, Tokayeva said that she was moving to the Crimea. 

In December 2021, Alexey Navalny’s investigative team reported that Russia’s federal property registry (Rosreestr) had hidden the names of the owners of two Moscow apartments that were previously listed as the property of Nadezhda Tokayeva and Timur Tokayev. The apartments, they said, were now listed as belonging to the “Russian Federation.” “Formally, the only explanation for this could be that President Tokayev is a career officer of the Russian special services,” surmised investigations lead Maria Pevchikh.

Radio Svoboda and Current Time TV managed to uncover slightly more information about Tokayev’s son than about his ex-wife. According to their investigation, Timur Tokayev went to school in Switzerland and then graduated from the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy. In 2009, he defended his PhD dissertation, titled “The Republic of Kazakhstan’s Strategy towards the West,” in which he described Russia as Kazakhstan’s only ally. 

In 2016, Timur Tokayev sat on the board of directors of the company OAO Mayak — the client behind the construction of the Mayak residential complex in Khimki (Moscow region). Local residents protested against the construction project, but the courts sided with the developer. Today, apartments for sale in the Mayak complex cost between 140,000 and 220,000 rubles ($1,840 and $2,890) per square meter (11 square feet). Whether the Kazakhstani president’s son is still a member of OAO Mayak’s board of directors is unknown.

According to the SPARK-Interfax database, Tokayev Jr. used to be listed as a co-owner of the company Abi Petroleum Capital, which received a license to develop the Gryadovoye oil field in Kazakhstan. Reportedly, this took place in the early 2000s, right after Timur Tokayev, who was 18 years old at the time, bought into the company. Abi Petroleum Capital’s other co-owner was Muhamed Izbastin — the son of Kazakhstani diplomat Temirtai Izbastin and the nephew of Tokayev Sr. 

In 2005, a company connected to Kenes Rakishev carried out work at the Gryadovoye oil field. Rakishev is one of the richest businessmen in Kazakhstan — media reports have linked him to the family of former Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov called him a “dear brother.” The aforementioned company OAO Mayak is also indirectly connected to Rakishev. What’s more, according to Forbes Kazakhstan, the company’s main shareholder is a Dutch fund controlled by the husband of Nazarbayev’s middle daughter Dinara Kulibayeva. 

Today, Timur Tokayev sits on the board of the Kemel Tokayev Charitable Foundation. The foundation’s website states that he’s also involved in real estate and tech, without mentioning any details about these business projects. In 2018, the Scanner Project uncovered that Tokayev Jr. owns apartments in Switzerland. However, in 2019, insiders told Kz.expert that he lives in Moscow. According to reports from 2019, Timur Tokayev has changed his last name to Kemel — presumably in honor of his grandfather. 

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Summary by Olga Korelina

Translation by Eilish Hart

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