On Birtanov’s Dismissal and Tsoy’s Appointment

Kazakhstan has recently experienced a minor «personnel"revolution — President of Kazakhstan Kossym-Jomart Tokayev has dismissed Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov and appointed Alexey Tsoy instead. After that, this Ministry’s got two Deputy Ministers at ones — Azhar Giniyat and Marat Shoranov.

From the internal political standpoint, the aforementioned personnel moves on the part of Akorda and the Library speak to two important points.

First, indirectly, they confirm the suspicions that, after the lifting of the emergency rule in the country and the quarantines in the regions, the situation with coronavirus in Kazakhstan has significantly worsened. For this reason, they need a new «sweep broom» in order to inspirit the staff of the Ministry of Healthcare, the top officials of the state medical centres and their employees to new feats.

Second, Abay Bisembayev, the Aide to the First President of Kazakhstan and at the same time the First Deputy Head of the Department of Presidential Affairs, has solidified his position in the country yet again. 

Why do we think so? Simply because, in Kazakhstan, the top and the middle echelon of the state apparatus as well as the system of the quasi-governmental structures are the places that no alien can trespass. So, if biographies of officials and clerks mention certain institutions, this mere fact should make one suspicious of these people being no strangers to those who in charge of these institutions. Or, at the very least, presume that they have other influential protectors that had assisted them in getting these positions.

 And, if these officials and clerks have also made decent careers, it can mean only one thing — they are a part of a clan (group) that is promoting them up the state ladder.

In other words, in Kazakhstan, «birds» can best be defined by the trajectory of their «flight».

At least two of the three new top officials of the Ministry of Healthcare — the new head of the agency Alexey Tsoy and his deputy Azhar Giniyat — are Abay Bisembayev’s people. This, among other things, can be seen from their biographies.

Tsoy used to be the Director of the Centre for the Introduction of Modern Medical Technologies at the Presidential Administration (September 2007 — 2010) and the Head of the Medical Centre of the Presidential Affairs Department of the Republic of Kazakhstan (April 2010 — 2011). It was after these jobs that Alexey Tsoy became the Vice Minister of Healthcare and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan (December 30, 2014 — February 2017). And when the agency had been divided, he remained the Vice Minister of Healthcare of the Republic of Kazakhstan (February 17, 2017 — February 2019).  

After last year’s dismissal of the Cabinet due to appointing the new Prime Minister, Tsoy had returned to the post of the Head of the Medical Centre of the Department of Presidential Affairs (February 2019 — June 2020) and now has left it again in order to take over the leadership of the Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Giniyat Azhar comes from the same stable. Her biography shows that, in 2008 — 2017, she had been employed as a Departmental Head at the Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Kazakhstan and, starting from September 2017, had occupied the post of the Deputy Head of the Medical Centre of the Department of Presidential Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in other words, was Alexey Tsoy’s deputy.

As for the new First Deputy Minister of Healthcare Marat Shoranov, his biography has nothing «suspicious» in it which does not at all mean that he is not a Bisembayev henchman.

Of course, in accordance with the Kazakh internal political practices, the first deputy head of an agency usually represents a different elite group (clan) in order to, so to speak, balance out their bosses while informing Akorda on what is really going on at the agency.

For this reason, we find it curious that, prior to his transfer to the Ministry of Healthcare, Mr. Shoranov had worked as the Head of the Healthcare Departments of the East-Kazakhstan region (2017 — 2019) and of the Nur-Sultan city (2019) and, starting form September 2019, had been employed as the Deputy Chairman of the Management Board of the Social Health Insurance Fund.

It is very likely that he had also been protected by someone although we cannot state it with certainty. Perhaps the answer lies in his employment by the University Medical Centre’s corporate fund.

Previously, we have already commented on the personnel activities of Abay Bisembayev’s elite group (clan) and on the growth of its influence in the ruling top of the country. Last time, it happened on February 3, 2020, in the publication «What Is Behind the Shymkent Mayor Replacement». In our opinion, the appointment of the new leadership of the Ministry of Healthcare does support the conclusions we have arrived at earlier.

Let us quote them:

«We have already mentioned Abay Bisembayev, one of the closest allies of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in a number of our publications. In our opinion, apart from Nursultan Nazarbayev’s third wife and their two sons, Bisembayev is probably the Leader of the Nation’s closest ally — Bisembayev speaks with the First President several times a day, always accompanies him on his trips, sits a little behind the „boss“ at meetings while making sure he is not be caught by photo and video cameras». 

In the article «Who „Holds“ the Assets of the Family» , we register that it was Abay Bisembayev who had lobbied appointing Saparkhan Omarov (also a Department of Presidential Affairs’ native) the Minister of Agriculture. In other words, this is already a second position in the state apparatus that is occupied by a henchman of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s First Aide and the First Deputy Head of the Department of Presidential Affairs.                                              

The appointment of Murat Aytenov as a governor confirms our previous assessment: Bisembayev has aggressively strengthened his position over the last years and now his apparatus and intra-elite influence can be compared to that of Speaker of the Senate of the Kazakh Parliament Dariga Nazarbayeva and Head of the Atameken National Entrepreneurs Chamber Timur Kulibayev (the eldest daughter and son-in-law of Nursultan Nazarbayev).


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