Who Is in Charge of Kazakhstan Today?

Judging from the official documents published on Akorda’s website, the second President of the Republic of Kazakhstan had spent the recent holidays working long and hard. Not only did he pay a visit to Turkestan where he made an exceptionally curious speech but also reformatted his Administration.

For instance, on March 24, 2019, Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev released Aset Isekeshev from the position of the Head of the Presidential Administration due to latter’s transfer to the other work and replaced him with Bakytzhan Sagintayev who, less than a month ago, moved from the position of the Prime Minister to the position of the Secretary of the State. On the same day, Marat Tazhin was appointed the Secretary of the State. He was replaced by Darkhan Kaletayev as the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration on March 25.   

Prior to this, the second President of the Republic of Kazakhstan had appointed Timur Suleymenov and Murat Nurtleuov as his aides, Erlan Battakov as the Head of the Presidential Affairs Department, Nurlan Onzhalov as the Head of the Chancellery and Berik Kurmangali as the Press-Secretary.

Thus, one can say that the entourage of the second President of the Republic of Kazakhstan has been formed.

Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev’s flurry of activity looks impressive. It also seems like the civil society, the press and the experts have seriously underestimated the former Speaker of the Senate. Moreover, certain Kazakh media-resources have already published the materials in which the authors are openly tickling the ear of the new head of the state by saying, among other things, that he is acting energetically, freely and independently of his predecessor.

In the meantime, if one keeps clear-eyed about Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev’s recent personnel reshuffles, the situation may present itself in an entirely different light.

Earlier, we have noted that the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Leader of the Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev has, de-facto and de-jure, created his own administration that will co-exist with the Administration of Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev. With that, the Security Council and the National Welfare Fund Management Council have been carved out of the command of the acting President (see Why Does Nazarbayev Need the New Security Council and A Test for Mightiness).

The situation with the National Welfare Management Council is not clear. According to the official documents, it is led by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in other words, Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev. It is possible, however, that Nursultan Nazarbayev has preserved his authorities in this body as well, it is just that they have forgotten (or have not had a chance) to announce this in the press. 

As a result, the two-headed configuration of the supreme power below the level of Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev looks as follows.

1. The First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Leader of the Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev has his own administration led by Makhmud Kasymbekov and Abay Bisembayev. This administration, de-facto, has the unlimited powers since it is subordinated to the Leader of the Nation directly and, therefore, can interfere with any question, problem or process.

2. Marat Tazhin has become the Secretary of the State. Tazhin is a state manager who has long been specializing in governing the internal political processes, possesses an impressive service record and is loyal to Nursultan Nazarbayev.

3. Nursultan Nazarbayev has been put in charge of the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The role of his secretary is performed by Kalmukhanbet Kasymov, a longstanding leader of the Ministry of Interior loyal to the First President. The latter, in turn, supports Kasymov in the fight against his numerous enemies. All the country’s law-enforcement structures are now situated under the Security Council.

4. Bakytzhan Sagintayev has been appointed the Head of the Presidential Administration. Sagintayev has recently sworn his allegiance to Nursultan Nazarbayev. He also used to be the immediate supervisor of Askar Mamin who is now serving as the Head of the Government.

We at kz.expert believe this is not a coincidence but the result of the cardinal reforms of the state governance system in Kazakhstan.

Thanks to these reforms, the second (acting) President of the Republic of Kazakhstan has, de-facto, lost the control over the law-enforcement and the internal policy blocks having retained the control (a relative one, of course) over the external policy and the socio-economic blocks.

Since, recently, Nursultan Nazarbayev has not only replaced the Minister of Foreign Affairs but also reoriented the agency towards attracting foreign investments in the country, it looks like, as the head of the state, Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev will be engaged in the battle lost by Nursultan Nazarbayev — the accelerated socio-economic development of the country which includes attracting foreign investors.

One must agree that the reforms of this scale do not fit into Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev’s previous achievements and practices.

So, here is a conclusion: having realized that, in the near future, the level and the quality of life of the Kazakh citizens will continue to deteriorate and wishing to remove himself from the responsibility for what is happening with the country as well as experiencing problems with his own health, the First President Nursultan Nazarbayev had decided to step aside and put a «puppet"-president under fire.

In our opinion, Kazakhstan now has formed a unique structure in which Nursultan Nazarbayev has oriented the second President and the part of the state apparatus entrusted to the latter towards the socio-economic block and the economic development.

From the bureaucratic standpoint, this construction is not simply neat, it is something that may be called «the invention of the century». The fact that, due to the objective reasons, it will not be highly efficient is another matter.

Even if Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev, Askar Mamin and Bakytzhan Sagintayev apply their considerable talents, efforts and knowledge and mobilize the state apparatus to attract foreign investors and develop the local entrepreneurship, the result will not be impressive. It is likely that there will be no result at all since this kind of national-scale tasks are usually solved by the joint efforts of the state, the business, the civil society and a big part of the pro-active population. Given the current situation in Kazakhstan, it will be impossible to make these cooperate.

Apart from that, Akorda will most certainly not be able to move outside of the borders outlined by the Leader of the Nation since these borders are approved by the entire Kazakh ruling elite for whom it is vitally important that the current state of affairs remains unchanged because it is easier, more profitable, less dangerous and something that is very familiar. And this will invariably result in the stagnation not only in the economy and the banking sector but in the society as well.


Add comment

Your e-mail will not be published. Required fields are marked with *