From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia
Nurtai Abykayev was born on May 15, 1947 in Zhambyl, Kazakhstan. He studied at the Ural Polytechnic Institute, graduating in 1970. This was followed by two years in the Soviet Red Army, after which Abykayev worked as an engineer in a heavy-machinery factory in Almaty (then Alma-Ata) until 1976. Throughout the 1980s he worked his way up the hierarchy of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, eventually becoming Nazarbayev's aide. After independence he served throughout the presidential administration until he was named ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1995. He returned to Kazakhstan the next year, and later became the head of the National Security Committee.
In August 1999 Abykayev was dismissed from his post as Chairman of the National Security Committee for his role in a scandal over the sale of old MiG fighter planes to North Korea by the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defense. Several members of his staff were arrested for their direct involvement in formulating the trade.
Abykayev became chair of the Senate on March 10, 2004. He was re-elected on December 1, 2005. In a large political shake-up in January 2007, Abykayev was replaced by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, later being appointed as the Kazakhstani ambassador to Russia.
In August 2010, he was appointed again as the head of the National Security Committee, replacing Adil Shayakhmetov. Shayakhmetov was removed from his post in the aftermath of the arrest of Prosecutor-General's Office official Murat Musabekov, who was fingered as allegedly plotting a coup in an anonymous letter allegedly circulated by NSC officers.
There has been speculation that Abykayev was involved in the murder of Altynbek Sarsenbayev, however several other high-profile politicians, including Nazarbayev, have also been accused of the murder at some point.
Abykayev is married. He has three children and three grandchildren.
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