Expanding the “Grey Zone”

“The grey zone” that has already started to form in Kazakhstan between the two “heads” of the authoritarian political system is now progressing top down. And this process cannot be stopped since every elite group and influential figure is compulsively trying to push forward their own creatures in the state apparatus, quasi-governmental structures, business, civic organizations, etc.

They are trying to do so not only because they want to become stronger, richer and more influential but simply in order to survive. This process strongly resembles that which was happening in the Medieval monarchies when the local feudal lords fought for the lands, cities, roads, ports under the authorities of the kings or sultans.

Thus, if Nursultan Nazarbayev lives for the next several years while Kazym-Zhomart Tokayev is elected the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan at the next elections, the appearance of the two parties, the pro-Nazarbayev one and the pro-Tokayev one, within the system will be unavoidable. With that, the majority of the officials, businessmen and civic leaders is likely to stand neutral understanding full well that, sooner or later, one of the “parties” is bound to lose.

The forming of the “parties” and of the grey zone will result in the further mistuning in the state mechanism and practice since the solving of the current problems will be hindered by an additional important factor – the absence of solidarity at the very top.

Of course, it is possible that Akorda will try to launch the already existing institutes that are non-performing or performing poorly, for instance, the Parliament, the local administrations, the Nur Otan party, the government, the executive boards of the quasi-governmental structures and state holdings. However, something tells us that, since the decision-makers will pursue, first of all, their own private interests, this undertaking is not to be highly efficient.

To confirm this, let us cite one document.

Presidential Decree 879 of March 18, 2019 “On conducting the unscheduled performance review of the police officers of the Republic of Kazakhstan” was one of Nazarbayev’s last decisions as the President of the country. According to the Decree, the next performance review must be conducted before September 1, 2019.

However, already on April 2, 2019, President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev signed Decree 15 “On making the changes to the Presidential Decree 879 of March 18, 2019”.

According to this document, the unscheduled performance review of the police officers is to take place during the period from October 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020.

We are not going to analyze the reasons that forced Akorda to delay the unscheduled performance review of the police officers. Perhaps the project was initiated by General Colonel Kalmukhanbet Kasymov, the former Minister of Internal Affairs who is now serving as the Secretary of the Security Council, and the new head of the Ministry, General Major Erlan Turgumbayev has decided to postpone this procedure that is highly sensitive for the agency.

Of course, the reverse is also possible: perhaps Turgumbayev decided to conduct the unscheduled performance review of the police officers in order to get rid of someone whilst Kasymov pushed back against it and convinced the current President to take his side.

What is important in this case is that the decision of the first President was changed via the decision of the second President. And even assuming that it was justified, adequate and sensible, this occurrence shows that the relative clearness that existed within the authoritarian political system has now perished.

Amid the severe confrontation among the numerous elite clans and figures of influence that exists at all times and in all places (in the state and the quasi-governmental structures, business, press, public opinion), this will invariably lead to the weakening of the power from within due to the systemic contradictions inside it.


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