Amid Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev’s first address to the Kazakh nation and the first session of the National Council of Public Trust (NSPT), Tokayev’s visit to Atyrau where he participated in the 120th oil and gas sector anniversary, was practically unnoticed. Nonetheless, in our opinion, this was an event of a special significance.
Not because Tokayev has set the ambitious tasks for the sector — to bump the annual oil production up to 100 mln tons and more, to bump the annual gas production up to 77 bln cubic meters (all by the year 2025) but also to become one of the leaders on the end-products market (albeit without specifying — internationally or regionally).
The thing is that, during the festivities, the key local oil and gas sector’s player, billionaire and Nursultan Nazarbayev’s son-in-law as well as the Chairman of the Atameken National Entrepreneurs Chamber Timur Kulibayev suddenly found himself performing a supporting role.
He was not even offered to speak at the extended meeting chaired by Tokayev. The meeting was devoted to the issues of the oil and gas sector’s development which, in itself, speaks volumes.
As a result of such a clear disregard towards the Leader of the Nation’s son-in-law on the part of the new President and his entourage, Governor of the Atyrau Region Nurlan Nogayev had to play the role of a smoother. And, together with the «distinguished» guest, he participated in the extended meeting of the Regional Council of the Atameken National Entrepreneurs Chamber.
But if Nurlan Nogayev and his PR-service had no choice but to bow and scrape before Nazarbayev’s relative, then those in Atameken seemed to have realized how bad the slap on the face that Kulibayev received from Tokayev was. As a result, the NSC press-release was much shorter than that of the Atyrau Regional Governor’s Office. Not to mention, it was short on quotes.
Particularly, it did not mention the words of Timur Kulibayev (said perhaps in a fit of anger): «Indeed, the celebration is great. As all of you know, Atyrau for me is my hometown. My father used to work here; he was leading the region for five years. From 1997, I myself am inseparably connected with the field, with the oil and gas sector, with the other sectors of the economy. And, of course, for me, it is a great honor to participate in the celebration of the oil’s 120 anniversary here, in Atyrau».
In our opinion, the attitude Tokayev and his Administration show towards Timur Kulibayev is explained easily. Today, a significant part of the Kazakh ruling elite is very much against the Leader of the Nation’s second son-in-law. One of the reasons for that lie in the past grievances when Akorda would often make a decision to his advantage trusting him with major projects that he failed to complete — among them, Rompetrol, the «saving» of BTA Bank, attracting foreign investors in the oil and gas sector etc. The other reasons lie in the desire to conduct the property and influence spheres repartition to their benefit.
On the other hand, if we are to believe our insiders from among the First President’s entourage, Timur Kulibayev is not Nazarbayev’s only wingman against whom an aggressive attack is already happening within the authoritarian political system. Even though it is not all that noticeable to a casual observer, it is capable of inflicting a huge material and political damage to him and his wife Dinara Kulibayeva.
The second such wingman is Nazarbayev’s another ally, dollar billionaire Bulat Utemuratov.
Obviously, so far, the aggression against them is being contained for Nazarbayev whose protection they enjoy and whose business interests they represent is still alive. However, by the looks of it, as soon as he passes away, Timur and Dinara Kulibayevs as well as Bulat Utemuratov are facing the risk of repeating the unfortunate fate of Uzbekistan’s former President Islam Karimov’s daughter.
As for the bases for their criminal persecution, there is quite enough of those and then it will all be in Akorda’s hands.