What’s Toxic about Spin Doctors’ Slip-Ups

On January 21, 2020, Nursultan Nazarbayev unexpectedly took part in Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council meeting where the issue of «ruling Subsection 8) of Article 107 of the Kazakh law on housing relations unconstitutional» was discussed.

Let us quote the press-release (text in bold by kz.expert).

«The question of exercising the housing rights of the citizens has always been a priority for the state’s social policy, said the First President of Kazakhstan in his speech.

Head of the Constitutional Council K. Mami noted that today’ meeting serves as a key event in the history of the country’s constitutional development.

— According to Section 1 of Article 71 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the First President — the Leader of the Nation remains a life-member of the Constitutional Council, said K. Mami».  

Even though the housing problem has been and remains one of the most sensitive and topical issues for the Kazakhs, Nursultan Nazarbayev’s participation in the Constitutional Council’s meeting cannot be assessed in any other way except «the appearance of Christ before people». In other words, it was a demonstration that the Leader of the Nation is alive and well and is capable of influencing Akorda and Kossym-Jomart Tokayev through yet another state agency.

The irony lies in the fact that, by demonstrating his omnipotence to the fellow citizens, the main resident of the Library (as well as his spin doctors) have made at least two mistakes.

The first one is that it is inadvisable to parade one’s achievements (the real and the illusional ones) before the country and the people in the situation when the level of the people’s distrust to power and those representing it as well as their desire to place the blame for their poor lives onto someone else is skyrocketing.

The statements such as «following my orders, several governmental programs have been implemented. The Kazakhs that, previously, had no possibility to acquire housing accommodations have been provided with a housing access» will invariably be regarded by the Kazakhs as an unabashed mockery of themselves and of the common sense. And as a confirmation of the rumors that the main resident of the Library has simply no idea how his fellow citizens really live. And since everyone is aware of how wealthy the Leader of the Nation and all his relatives and allies without exception are, this cannot but ignite the anti-governmental sentiment.

The first mistake has been made even heavier with the help of the second one — the occasion for the PR-event had been chosen erroneously. To confirm this, let us cite the text of Normative Decree #1 of the Constitutional Council of January 21, 2020, «On Examining the Constitutionality of Subsection 8) of Article 107 of the Kazakh Law on Housing Relations upon the Recommendation of the Alatau District Court of Almaty».

The document shows that the law had been implemented following a widespread Kazakh practice when the state provides the needy with a certain good and takes it away as soon as the receivers of this good violate some formal regulations.

Here is a quote (text in bold by kz.expert).

«On December 23, 2019, the Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan received a recommendation from the Alatau District Court of Almaty to rule Subsection 8) of Article 107 of the Kazakh Law on Housing Relations of April 16, 1997, unconstitutional.

The recommendation states that the court is now reviewing a civil claim of public utility service „The Housing Policy Office of Almaty“ against Islamova P.A. and her family members (11 people) requesting their eviction from the apartment leased out from the state’s housing stock without providing another housing accommodation.

The claim is based on the fact that one of the leaseholder’s family member (her son) got married, started a family and bought an apartment in Almaty. In accordance with Subsection 8) of Article 107 of the Kazakh Law on Housing Relations, the claimant asks the court to evict all the mentioned parties from the rented apartment.

Having examined the case files, the district court interpreted the content of Subsection 8) of Article 107 of the Kazakh Law on Housing Relations as a violation of the human and civil rights set in the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

In view of this, the court, in complying with Article 78 of the Constitution, has suspended the civil proceeding and addressed the Constitutional Council with the recommendation to rule of Subsection 8) of Article 107 of the Kazakh Law on Housing Relations unconstitutional».

While we do support the Constitutional Council’s Decree of January 21, 2020, nonetheless, we want to call the reader’s attention to the following:

  • public utility service «The Housing Policy Office of Almaty» filed a claim against a family of 11 only because one of the family members, having got married and having had children, purchased his own apartment;
  • Instead of simply denying the claim due to the fact that the son of the accused defendant who started a new family and then bought an apartment had, de-facto, left both the family of his mother and the apartment leased-out by the state, the Alatau District Court of Almaty chose to address the higher authorities (the Constitutional Council no less);
  • the Constitutional Council too suddenly got so concerned about the matter that it immediately admitted it to the examination, quickly reviewed it in the presence of a great many high-rank officials not to mention the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the «Leader of the Nation» himself. Then, it reached the correct verdict in support of the legal interests of the multi-child family.

And all this took less than a month!

Now then, the operation seems so orchestrated that it is hard to shake off the feeling that the Kazakh citizens have been shown a domestic political spectacle. But even this is not the scariest thing about this whole situation. What is truly scary is that the incident demonstrates the absence of the common sense on all levels of state governance as well as a clear reluctance of the officials to solve not too complex a problem by themselves.

As a result, the problem that, in other countries, would have been solved at the level of local authorities reached up the highest level — not just that of the Constitutional Council but that of the First President himself and, thanks to His Lordship’s charity, the issue was resolved in a quick fashion.

So, on one hand, Ms. Islamova P.A. and her 10 children that are still living in the leased-out apartment can be happy that their problem has been solved by Nursultan Nazarbayev himself. On the other hand, what are the other tens of thousands of Kazakhs with the similar problems to do? Try and fight their way through the numerous state agencies and courts all the way up to the Constitutional Council or to march against the Library, Akorda and their local administrations?


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