From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia
Goga Ashkenazi (born Gaukhar Yerkinovna Berkalieva; Template:Lang-ru, Template:Lang-kz; 1 February 1980) is a Kazakh-Russian businesswoman and socialite. She is the founder and CEO of MunaiGaz Engineering Group, a Kazakh oil and gas conglomerate. Since 2012, she has been head of the fashion label Vionnet, based in Milan.
Early life and education
Ashkenazi was born in the Zhambyl Oblast, Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. She grew up in Moscow, where her father, engineer Yerkin Berkaliev, was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party under Mikhail Gorbachev. Her mother, Saule, has degrees in both engineering and medicine. She has a sister, Meruert, who is 10 years older.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, her family moved back to Kazakhstan. Eager for their daughter to get a competitive education, her parents sent the 12-year-old Goga to boarding school in England. She first attended Buckswood Grange School in East Sussex followed by Stowe School, but was rusticated after being caught kissing a boy. She then attended Rugby School, earning five A levels. She studied modern history and economics at Somerville College, Oxford.
In 2003, Ashkenazi founded the MunaiGaz Engineering Group with her sister, Meruert. The company constructs compressor stations for gas pipelines and tunneling operations for utility networks, gas turbine and diesel plants.
Ashkenazi is also on the board of Ivanhoe Mining Group.
At age 23, she met and married American Stefan Ashkenazy, whose father Severyn Ashkenazy founded the L'Ermitage Hotel Group. The couple separated in 2004 and divorced in 2007, but she retained his last name, albeit with a different spelling due to a typo on her Russian passport. Her parents are both sworn atheists as members of the Communist Party, but her father is of Muslim background and Goga is Jewish through her maternal grandmother. Halachically Jewish, Goga notes she did not need to convert to marry Ashkenazy in a Jewish ceremony. She also says that in her purse she carries a page from a 1,200-year-old Torah.
Ashkenazi had an extramarital affair with billionaire Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of the president of Kazakhstan. She and Kulibayev have two sons: Adam, born in 2007 and Alan, born in 2012. She divides her time between Milan, where she works on Vionnet, and London, where her children live.
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