Whom Tokayev Favors and Whom He Does Not

On February 7, 2020, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kossym-Jomart Tokayev met with Chairman of the Management Board of SWF Samruk-Kazyna Akhmetzhan Yessimov. At the same time, the «Leader of the Nation’s» nephew met with his uncle as far back as January 27. Following these events, let us offer you several interesting observations.

As for the meeting with Tokayev, Akorda’s official press-release is short so, for illustrative purposes, we will quote it in its entirety (text in bold hereinafter by kz.expert).

«The Head of the State has met with Chairman of the Management Board of SWF Samruk-Kazyna Akhmetzhan Yessimov. In the course of the meeting, the President of Kazakhstan has been reported on the 2019 results of the Sovereign Welfare Fund’s performance.

Based on the information presented by A. Yessimov, the Fund’s main production and financial results have improved. The sale income has grown from 10.1 trillion tenge in 2018 to 10.7 trillion tenge in 2019, the net profit has grown from 1.1. trillion tenge in 2018 to 1.2 trillion tenge in 2019. The Fund’s assets have grown by 10% and reached 26.5 trillion tenge.

The Head of SWF Samruk-Kazyna has also reported on implementing the measures aimed to support domestic production and ensure the local content share in the procurement activities».

Now, let us compare the cited text with the press-release on Yessimov’s meeting with Tokayev’s predecessor at the post of the President. Here is the announcement released by «the official website of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan — the Leader of the Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev» on January 27, 2020.

«In the course of the meeting, the First President of Kazakhstan has been reported on the 2019 results of the Sovereign Welfare Fund’s development. A. Yessimov has reported that the net earnings of the Fund’s company group constitute 1.2 trillion tenge which exceeds the planned target by 38%. Since 2017, the debt burden has decreased by 1 trillion tenge while the external debt has decreased by US5.1 $ bln.

A special attention has been devoted to the measures implemented to improve the financial standing of the Fund’s companies, conduct IPOs of the portfolio companies and carry out the privatization plan.

In conclusion of the meeting, the Leader of the Nation has given a number of specific orders».

In Kazakhstan, in order to get insight into the actual power balance in the ruling elite and the real nature of the intra-personal relationships between the key power players, one must (among other things) know how to read between the lines. Let us have a go at it based on the two cited documents.

Let us start with the fact that the Chairman of the Management Board of SWF Samruk-Kazyna had first reported on the results of the quasi-governmental holding’s operations to his uncle, the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the «Leader of the Nation», and met with the acting head of the state afterwards. With that, Kossym-Jomart Tokayev has only been informed on the achievements of the structure Yessimov chairs while Nursultan Nazarbayev got to provide the latter with «a number of specific orders».

What is also noteworthy is the fact that the Library’s staff that’s written the press-release seem to favor the First President’s guest much more than their colleagues from Akorda do. This, among other things, can be seen from the fact that, in the first instance, the press-release stresses the facts that prove the remarkable achievements of Samruk-Kazyna’s Chairman of the Management Board: the net earnings of the company group have grown by whooping 38%, the debt burden has decreased by as much as 1 trillion tenge and the external debt has been reduced by US5.1 $ bln!

At the same time, Akorda’s writers have limited themselves to the usual statistical data — the sale income has grown, the net profit has grown, the Fund’s assets have grown. That’s all. 

Since those who write press-releases in Akorda as well as in the Library are part-time courtiers (in other words, they sense and understand the intra-elite power balance and the personal relationships of the key players much better than even high-rank officials situated far from the epicenter of power do), they (wishing or not) reflect the attitude of their superiors in the texts they produce. In this instance, the texts show that the personal relationships of Akhmetzhan Yessimov with his uncle are much wormer than those with the latter’s successor at the presidential post — Kossym-Jomart Tokayev.

Here is another observation based on the studying of the seemingly non-essential, secondary, small details. Those who wish to do so may follow our footsteps and study the official announcements on President Kossym-Jomart Tokayev’s meetings in Akorda and see for themselves that these meetings fall into two groups: illustrated by a photo and vise versa.

Now then, the press-release on Tokayev’s meeting with Chairman of the Management Board of SWF Samruk-Kazyna is published without a photo whereas all the press-releases on the meetings with other officials (we do not take into consideration foreign gusts and members of the public) are illustrated.

To prove our point, let us call your attention to Akorda’s press-releases on the meetings of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan with-

  • Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan Gizat Hurdauletov;  
  • Mayor of Semey Yermak Salimov;
  • Chairman of the Management Board of NAC Kazatomprom JSC Galymzhan Pirmatov;
  • new Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Russia Yermek Kosherbayev;  
  • regional governors (3 photos are published although there have been 7 visitors of this rank);  
  • Head of the Supreme Judicial Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan Talgat Donakov;
  • Chairman of the Presidium of the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs Timur Kulibayev;
  • Mayor of Nur-Sultan Altay Kulginov;
  • Minister of Trade and Integration of the Republic of Kazakhstan Bakhyt Sultanov;  
  • Head of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan Zhakip Asanov;  
  • Governor of the East-Kazakhstan region Danial Akhmetov.

We chose not to go too far back in history since the cited cases are enough to realize that the visitors honored with being admitted by the President fall into two unofficial groups: those with whom Kossym-Jomart Tokayev is prepared to take a photo with and those with whom he is not.

The second group, apart from Chairman of the Management Board of SWF Samruk-Kazyna Akhmetzhan Yessimov, includes Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin and his deputy Roman Sklyar. We open the question of why they have been denied being photographed with the President to interpretation, however, it was probably not because of the absence of a staff photographer on sight.


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