On February 12, 2021, the Anti-Corruption Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan reported on the implementation of the 2020-2024 anti-corruption strategic plan. We believe this report to be so impressive that we’ve found it in our hearts to make some comments on it.
For instance, one of the sections of the report titled “Possible Risks”, among other things, names “a decline of lack of tolerance towards corruption in the society” as one of the said risks (!!!).
Would you like to know what was done in 2020 to solve the problem?
“We are vigorously performing the coordinating function regarding the introduction of the principles of integrity via educational, information and organisational means. The Adaldyk Alany project serves as the driving force in promoting integrity and eradicating everyday-life corruption.
To promote the values of the project management office and the prompt solving of the people’s problems, all the heads of the regional project management offices have been appointed non-staff anti-corruption advisers to regional governors, the mayors of Nur-Sultan, Almaty and Shymkent.
The same practice related to the creation of the Adaldyk Alany project management office is being implemented on the level of the central state agencies. Ensuring the customer-oriented approach of the state agencies via introducing the service model of working with the population is one of the most important areas of focus of the project management offices.
The Agency’s and the state bodies’ informational availability is guaranteed as part of the Agency’s projects such as Antikor.Live, Adal Komek and the informational-educational offices. The aforementioned projects have proven their effectiveness and timeliness during the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Then follows Section 2 titled “Achieving the Goals and the Target Indicators” in which they state that “the percentage of the citizens wiling to make their personal contribution to reducing the level of corruption constituted 64.2% against the expected 61% whereas “the people’s perception of the level of corruption” constituted 64.9% against the expected 65%.
In our opinion, these figures should raise serious doubts. For if were real, the corruption in Kazakhstan would have been eradicated a long time ago. However, if we are to trust the press, social networks and personal experience, we will see that the opposite phenomenon is taking place – without question, the Kazakh authoritarian political system and the “super-presidential” vertical are losing the battle to corruption on all the levels of state governance.
This, among other things, means that the Kazakh Anti-Corruption Agency is deceiving itself and trying to deceive everyone else.
It should be obvious why this is happening. With all its potential, the Anti-Corruption Agency is but one of the Kazakh law-enforcement structures inferior to the State Security Service and the NSC in terms of its staff size, its importance and the technical capabilities.
Still, the main cause for the Anti-Corruption Agency’s impotence lies in the fact that it is held hostage not only by Akorda and the Library but the entire Kazakh ruling elite.
To confirm this idea, let us analyse the Agency’s data on the 2020 results of the anti-corruption fight (source: ANTIKOR.News announcements). For instance, on February 12, 2021, the following information was released (quoting) -
In 2020, more than 1000 persons were convicted, 334 persons convicted for receiving bribes, 256 for giving bribes, 146 for fraud, 98 for embezzlement, 120 for abuse of authority, 26 for facilitating bribes etc.
269 persons were sentenced to prison, 142 to restriction of liberty, 575 to many-fold fines, the rest received suspended or delayed sentences.
Additional legal penalties were enforced against 1268 persons (several additional legal penalties could be enforced against one person) – 936 persons were banned from occupying certain posts or performing certain jobs, 279 were stripped of their military or honorary ranks, class rank, diplomatic rank, qualification rank, 26 were deprived of property”.
Since the announcement does not specify the exact number of the convicted and only remarks that there have been more than 1000, let us proceed from that figure. Now them, only 269 persons (or 26.9%) have received real sentences of imprisonment whereas 731 persons (or 71.3%) have received semi-real sentences such as restriction of liberty, many-fold fines, suspended or delayed sentences.
One has to wonder how justified, valid and effective this kind of efforts on the part of the Kazakh anti-corruption machine is.
In our opinion, such efforts are unjustified, invalid and ineffective.
Of course, Akorda and the First President Nursultan Nazarbayev cannot act in any other way. For if the Elbasy and his allies insisted on tougher repressive measures against corrupt officials, the ruling elite would, one way or another, remind Nursultan Nazarbayev and his circle of the fact that it is these people who benefited from the expenses, properties and operations of the government more than anyone else.
In these circumstances, Akorda has to back down. Luckily, they have found a good reason for that - the necessity to reduce the number of convicted felons and the people serving their time in prison.
Consequently, the country in which patriotism exists only on paper and the understanding of the concept of civic duty is more likely to be found among the members of the opposition is now punishing corrupt officials in a much more lenient way than neighbouring Russia and China.
Of course, these counties have got their share of corruption-related problems but, at the very least, their corrupt officials face more risks, especially in China where the execution of former high-rank officials and party leaders is not uncommon.
In Kazakhstan, however, the risks of being caught and punished are not too grave. The main MO of a corrupt official is to “earn” as much as possible and get caught as late as possible in order to secure a decent living for themselves and their families even after paying many-fold fines and serving punishments.