A Fight for the State Support

Amid all kinds of problems that most Kazakhs are fighting now, the information attacks against one of the “South” clan’s unofficial leader Umirzak Shukeyev who is currently governing the Turkestan region have been left practically unnoticed.

On one hand, it is quite logical since Shukeyev occupies the key position in the region where all kinds of clans and groups have always been at war with each other fighting for titles, spheres of influence and income. Apart from that, during his longstanding state service, he has made quite a lot of enemies. On the other hand, the severity of the attacks and the absence of a response on his part cannot but raise one’s brows.

As an example of one such attack, let us cite a recent publication of journalist Valery Surganov under the high-sounding title “The Meat Emperor Has No Cloths On” that appeared on his own web-resource. Let us quote several interesting passages (text in bold by kz.expert).

“The Meat Union of Kazakhstan”, company SC Food and Agency SUCCESS – can they be the pockets of the real “meat king” who has been sitting in the Kazakh government for years?  

How did it happen that Maksut Baktibayev, a young stockbreeder and entrepreneur, the CEO of “The Meat Union of Kazakhstan” is now thought to be the main meat oligarch of the country and, surely, the leading cattle man of the Republic? Sometimes the author of this text still smiles when he hears Maksut being called “the meat king” out of the public view.

“I remember it well how astounded he was by the colossal volumes of the state subsidies allocated to such “friends” and “henchmen” as Maksut Baktibayev for all kinds of cattle manipulations – import, purchasing large cattle from small farmers, faltering-off and further resale when Umirzak Shukeyev was the Minister of Agriculture and Asylzhan Mamytbekov served as the Executive Secretary of the agency”.  

Some people may assume that Maksut Baktibayev may be as poor as a church mouse and, for this reason, he cannot manage to promote his own business thus often complaining on social media and sometimes trying to gain the laurels of a rebel and a voicer of the liberal and protest sentiment.

I must disappoint you: he is not poor. The sources of his fortune (that has obviously been covered in moss by now) lie in 2009-2010. Back then, NMH KazAgro JSC received 120 bln tenge from the National Fund to implement investment projects in the agricultural complex.

This money was supposed to be used for financing greenhouses, cattle-breeding (meat large cattle) and dairy farms.

Umirzak Shukeyev was serving as Vice Prime Minister during those years. Perhaps it was he who made sure that the solid sum of 120 bln given by the National Fund ended up on KazAgro’s accounts. At that time, Asylzhan Mamytrbekov, Shukeyev’s loyal henchman, was KazAgro’s Chairman of the Management Board.

In his turn, Mamytbekov made sure that 2.1 bln tenge were given on preferential terms to company SC Food belonging to his ally Maksut Baktibayev.

So, by the looks of it, by now Baktibayev should have repaid the National Fund’s loan. Alas, no. The same people helped him to prolongate the loan for another 10 years; in other words, for 20 years total. Therefore, in 2030, Maksut Baktibayev’s company SC Food must pay 2.1 bln tenge to the National Fund with interest”.

“In response to my reasonable question who then can be called the real “meat king”, who controls the funds of SC Food and the financial inflows to “The Meat Union of Kazakhstan”, a person from the Shukeyev-Mamytbekov circle painted the following picture:

“The person who has been sitting in the government all these years and wheedling the money on these projects out of the state budget is the main controller of “The Meat Union” and SC Food’s money, and he indeed is the real “meat king” of Kazakhstan.  

Asylzhan Mamytbekov serves as the “architect” of this food chain, but the real “meat king” is the one who wheedles the state money from the governmental sources with one hand and takes it from such companies as SC Food with the other (to be fair, leaving them something to eat: some get more, others get less depending on the achievements and the contribution into the group’s common goal)”.  

“For instance, Asylzhan Mamytbekov gets more because he is the pyramid’s organiser while Maksut Baktibayev gets less because he is young and reckless. Therefore, he has to bustle about and make money as he thinks fit”, said to me a person who currently represents a part of the top-management of the Turkestan region’s Governor’s Office”.

One must agree that the accusation against Umirzak Shukeyev that he has created and is now in charge of an organised criminal group engaged in embezzling state funds on a massive scale has been made quite clearly. What’s unclear though is for what purpose it has been done. 

In order to fire him from the position of the Governor or the Turkestan region, to diminish the influence of Shukeyev’s clan in the agricultural sector or in the region or to force them make some concessions?

We do not have an answer to this question and suspect that journalist Valery Surganov doesn’t have one, either. But what has surprised us most strongly is the absence of a response on the part of Umirzak Shukeyev and his clan. This means that he either feels more than confident or cannot respond due to an order from the above not to destabilise the internal political situation in his region.

Still, a response must take place if only because, in South Kazakhstan, the local elites follow this kind of things very closely – there is no other way to survive not to mention succeeed in the region. In other words, the silence will be regarded as a weakness and result in pressing the clan not just with words but with actions.  

This is especially so because it looks like the attack on Shukeyev is not going to end here. Let us quote the last paragraph from the aforementioned publication that sounds more than promising.

“Why has this person from Umirzak Shukeyev and Asylzhan Mamytbekov’s immediate circle told me so much and removed the scales from my eyes? What was his motivation, why did he hate Maksut Baktibayev and what game was he playing himself? This is a topic for a completely different story. A story about a man whom I call “Proletarian” or “Commoner” for his mastery to tell juicy stories and savour dirty details”.

From the internal political standpoint, two things are important in this individual confrontation between Umirzak Shukeyev’s clan with the unnamed opponents.

First, the fact that the practice of writing letters (complaints, petitions, publications) against enemies is still quite widespread in Kazakhstan and for it to become a cause for repressions (perhaps not as bloody as they used to be 100 years ago), it is enough to toughen the authoritarian system and practices.


Second, if during the first years of the existence of the Kazakh market economy, the big agricultural business was fighting for land, elevators, buyers and a place on the market, now it mostly fighting for the state support and subsidies.


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