An Alarming Trend in Tokayev’s Speech

On January 11, 2021, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev participated in the plenary meeting of the Mazhilis of the Kazakh Parliament. During the meeting, he first asked the House’s approval to appoint Alikhan Smailov the Prime Minster of the Republic of Kazakhstan and then made a long speech addressed not so much to the parliamentarians as to the citizens of the country.

It is important to mention that Tokayev’s decisions and orders articulated in this speech have already produced a surge of positive emotions among some well-known representatives of the Kazakh civil society. Contrary to them, we believe that, in this particular case, Tokayev’s main task was to simply calm the citizens thus preventing a new surge of protests on their part.

For this reason, Tokayev has dared to attempt what was previously considered impossible – to strip the Elbasy’s allies and relatives off some of the “forage bases” they control. In our opinion, however, he has done so not in the name of fairness but in order to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and to make a good impression.

Basically, we can characterise Akorda’s action plan articulated by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in the speech as a forced concession on the part of the Kazakh authoritarian political system and the “super-presidential” vertical to the Kazakh citizens.

This concession is significant but not essential. At the same time, this concession is dangerous for the people and the country’s future.

It is dangerous because Tokayev continues insisting that the January disturbances in the country were the result of external interference and organised operations on the part of some terrorists.

Why he continues insisting on it is quite clear. With this lie, Tokayev is de-facto rescuing his reputation and the reputation of his predecessor at the presidential post since the aforementioned scenario takes the blame for what happened off of them both, moreover, it makes them victims of the situation along with everyone else.

However, if they continue insisting on this scenario, Kazakhstan, from a police state, is soon going to turn into a “super-police” state. And it is evident from the very fact of how much attention Tokayev has devoted to the subject of strengthening the law-enforcement structures, among other things, via increasing the number of its personnel, solidifying their technical base, increasing the wages of the employees.

Tokayev’s request (or rather order) to “find and punish all the fighters and their accomplices involved in the crimes against civilians” will facilitate the process of turning the country into a “super-police” state.

In our opinion, the January conflict between the siloviks and the Kazakh citizens has inflicted a serious moral blow on the former. Perhaps, for the first time during the thirty years of the Kazakh independence, the siloviks have suffered a large-scale humiliation, have been forced to stand on the defensive, received enormous jabs at their self-esteem, many have endured physical attacks.  

Now the siloviks whose moral qualities and civil consciousness are, in our opinion, extremely low have got an opportunity to pay back. And many of them also have got a chance to make money since corruption in Kazakhstan is omnipresent and nothing costs more than a person’s life and freedom. Especially now when the so called “anti-terrorist operation” is continuing and the siloviks have got a cart blanche to do anything including shooting (killing) people without a warning.  

Another Tokayev’s decision that has shocked us has to do with the problem of the social division and its mastering.

We know full well that the current Kazakh ruling elite, first of all, the relatives and allies of Nursultan Nazarbayev are rich and über-rich people. So, we completely support the idea that the law and justice should prevail.

At the same time, we do realise that all the proposed measures aimed to solve this problem will bring no results due to the simple reason that, in the context of the authoritarian political system and the “super-presidential” vertical, they will serve as the tool for taking away businesses (profits, spheres of influence) and handing them over to others. And most Kazakh citizens are mot going to be the latter.

As for Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s decisions on the Operator ROP LLP controlled by Aliya Nazarbayeva and LRT “pushed” by the people close to Dariga Nazarbayeva, they are the right choices. However, because they have been made only after Akorda and the entire “super-presidential” vertical got kicked in the teeth, these decisions clearly stem from necessity.

The latter speaks of both the absence of political bravery on the part of Tokayev who has dared to take these steps only after he got kicked by the people and the fact that, without a massive-scale bloodshed and burning the governmental buildings, Akorda is incapable of defeating the Elbasy’s daughters in regard to this matter.

The second President’s orders regarding the necessity to find additional sources of financing the state budget are just as “urgent”. The President suggests achieving this via additional taxing or a forcible requisitioning of a part of the mining industries’ profits.  

Most Kazakhs are likely to support these kind of actions. Unfortunately, they will be in the wrong since all the big foreign investors are protected from state despotism by their individual agreements. It would be extremely difficult to get anything from them, not to mention it would take quite long a time. As a result, it is the Kazakh entrepreneurs operating the small and medium-size fields who are likely to suffer.

As for the cleanup of the customs, we support this initiative unequivocally albeit we are quite pessimistic regarding the likelihood of Akorda, the government and the siloviks implementing at least half of what is planned. For, they cannot supervise each customs official individually while people’s imagination and the ability to bypass the law (especially if these people reside near the border) are unlimited and unending.

As for “freezing” the wages of the members of the government, the deputies and the akims of all levels for five years, we regard this as stupidity of a record-setting dimensions. For, there is no better means to motivate several thousands people possessing bits of power and influence to start making money illegally.

Especially considering that, over the course of that time, inflation is unlikely to go down to the reasonable 1-2% a year. Even if Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gives his marching orders in regard to this problem and his subordinates achieve at least a minor success in implementing them.

…We see no point in commenting on the speech any further. Tokayev and his team have attempted to get through to as many citizens as they could, therefore, they have mentioned a number of actions each of which is geared towards a particular social group. 

We cannot predict whether the Kazakh citizens will hear the words of the President and do what Akorda wants them to do – that is, stop protesting and begin to support the authorities. However, we do suspect that even if they do hear them, they will still prefer to stand back.

Yes, in the beginning, a part of the citizens, first of all, the Almatynians who have lived through these hard days will thank the state for restoring the order and peace in the city. However, it is not going to last for long since, overall, the life in the country will not change for the better. In all likelihood, it is going to get worse. And, again, then the people will pose the question – who is to blame? And, this time, they won’t succeed in placing the blame on foreign conspiracy plots and terrorists…



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