Until 2007, Viktor Khrapunov did not think of any opposition. And he certainly did not consider himself persecuted by the authorities when he was in charge, first in Almaty, then in East Kazakhstan, and just before fleeing the country, in the Ministry of Emergency Situations.
Khrapunov has been the akim of Almaty since 1997. Under him, the city was flooded with fixed-route taxis, with which the akim later began a real struggle – the emergency situation worsened at times due to ignoring the rules of the road drivers of the "minibuses". Khrapunov was remembered by Almaty residents for the massive "cleansing" of the city from commercial kiosks, and broken roads, and the appearance of the first elite high-rise buildings.
Under Khrapunov, the townspeople did not wait for a single metro line. But they could lose the opportunity to travel in right-hand drive cars: it was the Almaty akim who suggested the idea of banning Japanese cars. Data of mythical statistics were cited, according to which, right-hand drive cars more often became participants in an accident.
However, this type of transport was the most accessible for ordinary Kazakhstanis, and therefore Khrapunov's decision, not only did not find support in society, but also caused mass discontent. Motorists created various communities, wrote to the media and high-ranking officials, and went to rallies. Gradually, the situation seemed to calm down by itself.
But forever the name of Viktor Khrapunov entered the history of Almaty in connection with the situation around the airport, whose building burned down in July 1999. The official version of the Agency for Emergency Situations, which was then headed by Shalbay Kulmakhanov, came down to the fact that an ordinary deep fryer became the cause of the fire. In the process of cooking, it flared up, the oil that was in it spilled and began to burn, the parquet caught fire, and the burning oil spread further. As a result, a terminal with an area of almost 9,000 m² burned down.
Meanwhile, the fire broke out three months after the re-registration of the airport, which became known as OJSC Almaty International Airport. And few people believed in the version with a deep fryer. The flames were spreading too fast and the airport security services were somehow suspiciously slow. And then strange things began to happen.
In December 2003, OJSC Imstalcon, which was building a new terminal, received the right to dispose of premises with an area of 2481.92 m². Allegedly for debts to the company. A later audit showed that no debts existed. More precisely, Imstalcon itself owed more than half a billion tenge. It also turned out that the contractor received a huge advance payment without taking into account the work done.
The transfer of the premises to Imstalcon took place on December 30, 2003, and already on December 31, the JSC transferred the terminal area and a land plot of 8 hectares to LLP "Kazan So", which, in turn, alienated this property to a number of legal entities and individuals in 2004.
Another curious detail: in November 2001, airport activities were withdrawn from Almaty International Airport OJSC. Together with 68% of the company's assets, it was transferred to another company – International Airport OJSC.