In our atricle* on the debates between the Kazakh authorities’ main political opponent Mukhtar Ablyazov and former Aide of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Ermukhamet Ertysbayev held in the Politon discussion club, we arrive at the four conclusions.
- The current Kazakh authorities cannot (do not know how, fear) to have an open discussion with their principle opponents and will probably never learn to do so.
- There is plenty of reasons for this weakness starting with the absence of the qualified «talking heads» and ending with the deficit of ideas that can be turned into a material force and win over the masses.
- In this context, the authorities continue to employ the same old instruments of attacking their opponents: legal wars, counterpropaganda, administrative arrests, criminal persecution, physical and psychological violence that eventually leads to the massive political repressions.
- Given the fact that the majority of the Kazakhs have an Internet access, the authorities have lost their former advantage in the information space and can no longer get it back. The only thing that they can do is to restrict the citizens’ access to individual Internet-resources which does not mean that, if this happens, the citizens will come over to their side.
*(text of the article available in Russian)
However, the confrontation between these two persons did not end there except that now it’s happening in the «behind the other’s back» format: the main political enemy of the Leader of the Nation speaks ill of Ertysbayev in his frequent appearances on social media; the latter responds in the same, albeit much wordier, manner.
To be more precise, he is trying to respond but the result is subpar since the former presidential «warbler» either understand that the times are different now or simply does not know how to do it any other way.
Used to the wordy confrontations with Nursultan Nazarbayev’s political opponents on the pages of newspapers and magazines as well as on TV, Ertysbayev today automatically loses to any Internet-activist. Simply because, on the Internet, exaggerated emotions are so much more important than intelligent words while brevity and creativity of an idea are so much more essential than a high-quality justification of one’s position. Apart from that, one must be attractive for the audience that, preferably, had already been found.
We do not know whether Ertysbayev who is used to operating in the times when the state and pro-governmental printed and digital media were invariably dominating the oppositional ones and their potential audience surpassed the latter’s capabilities exponentially understands it. Now all this is gone thanks to the Internet and, moreover, it is the Kazakhs with the anti-government sentiment that are more active in the internet-space today.
For this reason, we are certain in our prediction of Ermukhamet Ertysbayev’s total defeat in his information/propaganda confrontation with Mukhtar Ablyazov. As well as of any other speaker that may replace the «warbler».
Why are we underscoring this fact especially?
Because the defeat of the Kazakh authorities in this confrontation is predetermined not so much by the personal traits of the discussion participants (even though they are still important) as by the circumstances that are objective and relevant for today.
- In our opinion, the share of the Kazakh that are unsympathetic to the government is much higher among the internet-users that among the country’s citizens in general, moreover, they are clearly more active in promoting and defending their ideas, thoughts and positions. And this means that the audience will rather side with Ablyazov than with Ertysbayev as a representative of the current authorities.
- Mukhtar Ablyazov has significantly (one thousand times) more possibilities as a critic of Nursultan Nazarbayev and Akorda than Ermukhamet Ertysbayev does as their advocate. Simply because Ablyazov can criticize, expose, attack any statesman, politician, official or quasi-governmental structure’s manager in the country. Whereas Ertysbayev and his colleagues must only concentrate on Ablyazov and his actions which is a rather limited subject. And its constant repetition will soon bore everyone to death so eventually no one will listen to the authorities’ defender.
- Mukhtar Ablyazov has one hundred times more possibilities for the trolling of the authorities since he can demand a face-to-face or distant discussion with any statesman, politician, official or quasi-governmental structure’s manager in the country (which he is doing already having called Head of the Senate of the Kazakh Parliament Dariga Nazarbayeva up for debates). Whereas Ermukhamet Ertysbayev as well as his unofficial «colleagues» must attack Ablyazov and his individual statements on different subjects exclusively (see, for example, these youtube links — first, second and third — video available in Russian only).
As a result of this kind of information/propaganda confrontation that, in theory, may drag on practically indefinitely (the monetary expenses on social media activities are not high), the potential losses of the Kazakh authorities will be invariably much higher than those of Mukhtar Ablyazov.
Meanwhile, each riot squad and arrest of the people supporting the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan-2 turns into a clear, comprehensible and emotionally pregnant testimony to the fact that:
- the Kazakh political system is authoritarian,
- democracy and rule of law are absent in the country,
- Akorda is so afraid of Mukhtar Ablyazov and DCK-2 that it represses the people who are peacefully advocating their rights including the right to participate in political activities and freedom of speech,
- the talks of the democratization and political reforms that started when Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev became the President are but empty words,
- Mukhtar Ablyazov really is the main opponent of Nursultan Nazarbayev. Given that the latter is afraid of the former means that Ablyazov actually can reform the country.
In our opinion, both Akorda and the «Library» cannot but understand all this. However, there is inertia emblematic of the Kazakh state machine that has become a little too rusty over the course of the past decade. Apart from that, it is unlikely that anyone from Nazarbayev’s circle will dare to explain the faultiness of such tactics to the Leader of the Nation.
It looks like Nazarbayev is so obsessed with his political enemy that his usual rationality, cynicism and caution have abandoned him. Or perhaps, due to his advanced age and the absence of any kind of criticism, he has actually come to believe in his own infallibility.
At the same time, Akorda and the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan probably understand that the information/propaganda confrontation with Mukhtar Ablyazov may drag on for years. And the inclusion of Ermukhamet Ertysbayev as the main speaker will not result in a victory. Therefore, the Kazakh authorities are still trying to «get» their enemy in Europe.
According to our sources, Akorda has managed to convince the Bavarian prosecution office to open a criminal case against Mukhtar Ablyazov and several other people on suspicion of money laundering. At this point, it is hard to assess whether it can be realized from the legal standpoint. However, the testimony of Ablyazov’s former ally Artur Trofimov who was detained in Uzbekistan, «voluntarily» went to Astana, confessed to what the prosecution had been accusing his of and received an exceptionally mild punishment in the form of a fee has already been sent to Munich.
Parliament Assembly of OSCE. Artur Trofimov (on the left) and Nurtay Abykayev (o the right)