Tokayev’s Enemies and Allies

Few people in Kazakhstan take notice of the almost daily meetings Kossym-Jomart Tokayev has with the members of the government, the akims of the regions and the cities of the national significance subordinated directly to the President, the heads of state holdings and even the persons in charge of the mass communication media.

In recent months, the Elbasy’s successor has met with practically everyone who belongs to the aforementioned categories of state and quasi-state managers.  

During these meetings, not only did Tokayev address the official topics but also informed his companions on what’s going to happen to them in the nearest future that will come after the parliamentary and local representative bodies elections, say our insiders. In other words, he told them whether they would keep their current posts, be moved to another position or dismissed from state service. 

Judging by the fact that there has been no information leaks, Tokayev has, once again, been demonstrating his diplomatic talents.  For this reason, we are certain that the forming of the new government after the elections will take place without any delays. Of course, we are more than curious to learn the answer to the question who will make it to Tokayev’s «300 Spartans» but, right now, we are interested to know something else — who (among the ruling elite) are Tokayev’s enemies and who are his allies? 

According to the Kazakh press, Tokayev has no enemies. It is hard to say which part of this notion is played by his political secondariness and which one is played by his notorious cautiousness (that very trait that is often called cowardice by Tokayev’s ill-wishers) as well as by his and his family’s lack of success in «privatising» state property. Still, that’s what the fact is.

The irony is that these negative traits of Tokayev (as seen by the elite) have turned out to be his positive traits in the eyes of the Elbasy. Apart from that, after his resignation from the post of prime minister, Tokayev had been occupying the purely diplomatic posts and, therefore, was unable and did not manage to form his own clan or group of influence.

In our opinion, it is Tokayev’s relative equidistance from everyone and his cautiousness that had payed the chief role in his becoming Nursultan Nazarbayev’s successor at the presidential post.

The Elbasy knows full well that the political system and state mechanism he created are not terribly rock-solid. Therefore, he prefers keeping the person who is so politically weak that he wants to preserve the balance everywhere and in everything as his «seat warmer» (and even if this person does have political aspirations, he conceals the fact quite skilfully). 

Nonetheless, judging by some indirect data and the fragmentary information leaks from Akorda, Tokayev has got his own view on what Kazakhstan and its state policy should be. Of course, so far, he has been acting with an eye to both the Library and its residents and to the numerous elite clans, first of all, that of the Elbasy’s relatives.

So far, he seems to have managed it quite successfully. Moreover, the insiders say that Tokayev has been able to reach a political alliance agreement with one of the Elbasy’s closest relatives.

At this point, we are not going to name this «power broker». We will, however, say that, in recent months, this person has been gaining «political weight» and has reached an alliance treaty with an influential figure, namely, Chief of the National Security Committee Karim Masimov.  

Still, another fact seems to be even more indicative. Our insiders say that, little-by-little, Kossym-Jomart Tokayev has been pushing the proper state authorities to search for compromising materials on Kazakhstan’s several well-known people. In particular, former Prime Minister and Akim of Almaty and Astana Imangali Tasmagambetov.

The thing is that, even though Tasmagambetov left state service in 2019, he has been and still is one of the unofficial leaders of the Western clan (and the Kazakh nationalists as well, albeit the latter are quite split at the moment). And he may very well play an unexpected yet crucial role if the Kazakh elite chooses to follow the Ukrainian or the Kyrgyz path. In other words, if it splits up and starts fighting for power.

According to the insiders, they are mainly going to search for the compromising materials on Imangali Tasmagambetov at the Ministry of Defence and in his son-in-law Kenes Rakishev’s projects related to developing technologies and weapons for the Kazakh army.

At this point, it is difficult to assess how serious these threats are for the person who named himself «Nazarbayev’s product» a number of years ago. But the fact that he and several other political veterans (Daniyar Akhmetov, Alhmetzhan Esimov or Umirzak Shukeyev) who occupy important posts in the state apparatus and act as the heads of influential clans are potentially dangerous for Kossym-Jomart Tokayev in beyond dispute. At least in theory.


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