Europe

AP Interview: Kazakh banker fighting for regime change

Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov answers the Associated Press in Paris, Thursday Dec. 15, 2016. Freshly freed from a French prison after years fighting embezzlement charges, Ablyazov is pursuing what he calls his "life goal": regime change in his energy-rich Central Asian country. (AP Photo/Alexander Turnbull)

Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov answers the Associated Press in Paris, Thursday Dec. 15, 2016. Freshly freed from a French prison after years fighting embezzlement charges, Ablyazov is pursuing what he calls his "life goal": regime change in his energy-rich Central Asian country. (AP Photo/Alexander Turnbull)  (The Associated Press)

Freshly freed from a French prison after years fighting embezzlement charges, Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov is pursuing what he calls his "life goal": regime change in his energy-rich Central Asian country.

The prospect looks dim. Kazakhstan is under the 27-year grip of a president close to Vladimir Putin, and many Kazakhs see Ablyazov as a corrupt tycoon.

Yet Ablyazov is undeterred. Days after being released from three years in prison, he told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday: "I want to change the country. I want for us to build a democratic country like in Europe, like in America."

He's emboldened by a decision by France's top administrative court, which ruled Friday against his extradition to Russia over the embezzlement charges, calling the request politically motivated.