The British Royals Dubious Love Affair With Repressive Kazakhstan
Just what is it about the British royal family and Kazakhstan?
You might have thought that Prince Harry would have learned from the opprobrium heaped on his Uncle Andrew for his highly suspect dealings with the Kazakh elite - Andrew sold his house to a Kazakh billionaire for $28.5 million, nearly $6 million over the asking price, and the house remains unoccupied and is apparently deteriorating into a near-derelict state - but no, Harry has allowed himself to be seduced by a figure close to the repressive regime for the price of a long weekend's ski-ing holiday.
For the Daily Mail confirms today what has been suspected ever since news of Harry and Cressida's Kazakh ski trip broke at the beginning of the week - that the jolly was paid for by by a close associate of President Nursultan Nazarbaev.
Burak Oymen, the Turkish-born property developer who owns the ski resort, and who is considered to be close to the Kazakh president is named today as the individual bankrolling the jaunt, which reportedly included use of a Kazakh government helicopter for heli-skiing.
The Mail further claims that he sent a private jet to London to collect Harry and Cressida.
One wonders quite how stupid the royal family can be. Harry is clearly not the sharpest knife on the rack, and we all like to impress our girlfriends, but where are the advisers protecting Harry from such PR disasters? Have they learned nothing from the Vegas debacle?
And when it comes to holidays - see Will and Kate's latest trip to the Maldives - the young royals have a total blind spot. They don't understand why they shouldn't have totally indulgent, millionairey luxury. They just dont get that there is a reason the Queen has only ever holidayed at her estate in Balmoral in Scotland.
Harry's spokespeople have, true to form, insisted the trip is a "private" holiday and refused to comment, but Amnesty International has been quick to highlight oil-and-mineral rich Kazakhstan's record of brutal rights violations, saying, "Kazakhstan is a repressive country where torture is rife and political opposition is crushed."
It's not just the royal family that the Kazakh elite has in its pocket however - former Prime Minister Tony Blair accepted a fee of $13 million to serve as a special adviser to Nazarbaev.
So just what is it about the British royal family and Kazakhstan?
Oh yeah, its the money of course, silly us!