But the new leader of Kazakhstan will still have to demonstrate decisiveness
The dry language of bureaucratic prose conveys the drama of the ongoing process of changing historical eras in Kazakhstan much better than even the most pretentious statements of politicians and political scientists. For example, here are two official documents about the career turns of Samat Abish, Nazarbayev's famous nephew, who became famous this January.
Photo: AGN « Moscow»
January 14, the official statement of the Committee of the National Security of Kazakhstan “regarding S. Abish”: “In connection with incoming inquiries, we inform you that S. Abish continues to hold the post of First Deputy Chairman of the KNB of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Since January 13 of this year, he has been on annual leave.
January 17, official website of President Tokayev, section “legal acts”: “By the order of the head of state, Abish Samat Satybaldyuly was relieved of the post of first deputy chairman of the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan.”
Wow, “annual vacation” it turned out for a person — for four whole days! But, on the other hand, everything really is very logical: for the members of the family of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the passage of time has now dramatically accelerated.
The main Kazakhstan-related news of the day this Monday, of course, was an interview with fugitive banker Mukhtar Ablyazov to RIA Novosti. A man who, at the start of an attempted coup d'état, for lack of “best candidates” called the puppeteer of the putsch, said in France: “We have developed a plan, we will achieve regime change. I will fly and head the provisional government of Kazakhstan for a period of six months. If our party wins this election, then I will become a legitimate prime minister. There will be no presidency. We are abolishing this position.
Reminds me of the well-known anecdote about the lion in the zoo: “Will he really eat it all?” — “He will eat something, but only who will give it to him!”
However, I would not completely write off Mukhtar Ablyazov as the “elusive Joe”; Kazakhstani politics, which diligently ascribes to itself other people's “merits” and will wait in vain until the end of his days when he will be invited to return to the republic “on a white horse.” Yes, now Ablyazov is completely out of business in terms of real influence on Kazakhstani politics. In business — President Tokayev, thanks to the political vibes emanating from which all three sons-in-law of Nursultan Nazarbayev suddenly had a burning and irresistible desire to leave their prestigious and/or well-paid positions.
In contrast to the version of the revolution, in which the living symbols of the previous regime are pilloried, in Tokaev's Kazakhstan everything is still diplomatically arranged, with courtesy, allowing defeated politicians to save their face. Nazarbayev's middle son-in-law Timur Kulibayev addressed his now former subordinates: “Dear colleagues! From today, I have decided to resign as the elected chairman of the Presidium of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs “Atamaken”. I would like to thank the congress delegates and members of the presidium for the trust placed in me. Response letter: “We respect the personal decision of Timur Askarovich and express gratitude for the years of joint work.”
The former system of power is leaving the forefront under polite bowing. But how deep will this dismantling be? The main power assets — these are not formal positions (especially in public organizations), but assets in the truest sense of the word: stocks, bonds, and so on. Will it get to them? And if it does, what will replace the economic system, which even Tokayev himself, in a recent keynote speech during the appointment of a new government, called “oligarchic”? Another oligarchic system — like how the system of Niyazov in Turkmenistan was replaced by the system of Berdymukhammedov, which was not too different from it in spirit, style and internal content? I deliberately formulated these questions in such an extremely acute, even grotesque form, in order to show that they do not have simple answers.
Against the background of other figures of the Kazakh elite, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev has always stood out for his emphasized honesty. He didn't play clan games. He was not seen participating in financial fraud. He does not have a ready-made team of relatives who are ready, like kites, to swoop into vacant grain positions. Well, thank God? Oh, if only it were that easy…
The fact that the European political culture is the ideal for the now leveraged president is in no way capable of changing the structure of Kazakh society built on clans, zhuzes, clans and tribes. Tokayev will have to act not in the coordinate system in which he would like to act, but in the one that exists.
One of the shadow, but very important roles of the leader of Kazakhstan — maintaining a balance of power and interests between various groups in power. I remember, for example, how in the second half of the 90s Nazarbayev neutralized the political ambitions of one of my great friends — a prominent politician and a ready presidential candidate from the Middle Zhuz (Nursultan Abishevich himself, if anyone has forgotten, represents the Senior Zhuz).
First move. A potential competitor is transferred from work in the central bodies of state power to an extremely prestigious, but far from Kazakhstan, embassy work. Second move. Nazarbayev unexpectedly announces early presidential elections. My comrade is rushing about, trying to agree on a united front against Nazarbayev with other prominent oppositionists, he understands the futility of this occupation and agrees to Nursultan Abishevich's proposal to become deputy prime minister before the elections and prime minister after them. Third move. After the presidential election, the promise to make this prominent politician the head of the government is “forgotten”. Instead, he is being pushed into retirement.
Until Nazarbayev's physical strength ran out, he performed the role of the supreme arbiter of clan squabbles with brilliance. Misfires, of course, happened. An example of one of them — the same Ablyazov. At first, being a loyal functionary of the regime, he made a huge fortune. And then, unable to satisfy his desire to climb to the very top of the pyramid of power, he fled abroad and found there in himself a sudden inclination to fight “for a democratic system”; Kazakhstan. But until the big glitch in January 2022, Nazarbayev’s system kept Kazakhstan from bloody internal turmoil for three decades. Can Tokayev build something better and more efficient?
Nazarbayev's political longevity was based on his unconditional charisma and his vivid vision of the future of Kazakhstan. Yes, writing these lines now, knowing how it all ended, is somehow awkward and not even quite decent. But it was actually — until it was erased and disappeared under the onslaught of flatterers. Will Tokayev be able to become the same bright charismatic? Can he capture the imagination of Kazakhstanis with his inspiring vision of the country's future? I hope that the answer to these questions will be positive. After all, if it turns out to be negative, then the second president of Kazakhstan will remain in the history of the country only as a transitional figure.
Read the report of our special correspondents “Nazarbayev visited his native village on January 2-3, flew through Kyrgyzstan in the UAE»
“Talking” frames of the tomb of the Nazarbayevs in the ancestral village of Shamalgan appeared
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