On Dismissing Nazarbayev’s Sons-In-Law and Nephew

Kazakhstan is undergoing what can be called an exodus of the First President’s relatives from power. The news on their resignations have sparked yet another wave of enthusiasm among Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s supporters. However, is it not too early to start celebrating?

On January 15, 2022, the official website of the Samruk-Kazyna state holding published an untitled press-release. Due to its brevity, let us quote the entire text.

“In accordance with the decision of the Board of Directors of the QazaqGaz JSC NC of January 14, 2022, the authorities of Sharipbayev K.K. as the Chairman of the Management Board of the QazaqGaz JSC NC have been terminated prematurely on his own volition.

In accordance with the decision of the Board of Directors of KazTransOil JSC of January 14, 2022, the authorities of Dosanov D.G. as the CEO (Chairman of the Management Board) of KazTransOil JSC have been terminated prematurely on his own volition”.

Since both retirees are the spouses of Dariga and Aliya Nazarbayevs respectively (the Elbasy’s first and fifths daughters), the news was immediately spread by the Kazakh and foreign media.

A number of experts, both professional and amateur, see these resignations as yet another sign of Nursultan Nazarbayev handing power to his successor irrevocably which means that the First President is basically finished.

Without a doubt, the following resignations will be assessed in the same way -

- the resignation of Timur Kulibayev, an officially proclaimed dollar billionaire and Nursultan Nazarbayev’s son-in-law from the post of the Chairman of the Presidium of the Atameken National Entrepreneurs Chamber,

- the dismissal by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of the Elbasy’s nephew Samat Abish from the post of the First Deputy Chief of the NSC RK.

The news on these resignations broke out on January 17, 2022.

As for Mr. Kulibayev, as follows from his statement addressed to the members of the Presidium, he chose to be relieved from his duties himself. In other words, he did what the other two Nursultan Nazarbayev’s sons-in-law had done before him.

Unfortunately, Akorda’s official announcement on Samat Abish’s resignation says nothing about whether it is who has requested his dismissal from the head of the state or the chief of the NSC. But we would not be surprised if he did. 

We at KZ.expert believe that this exodus of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s relatives from high-rank governmental and quasi-governmental positions (including the one in the Atameken NEC) is, without a doubt, consequential to the January “explosion” of the protest sentiments in the country.

However, we categorically disagree with those who, based on the fact that, for several weeks now, the so-called “leader of the nation” has not made a public appearance and expressed his opinion regarding the current situation, see it as his personal decline and the end of the authoritarian political system and the “super-presidential” vertical he has created.

In our opinion, these resignations are but Akorda’s attempt to calm the protest-minded citizens and the public opinion via dismissing those tightly connected with Nursultan Nazarbayev from the high-profile positions.

On the other hand, this operation aims to rescue these very people since now they may quietly leave the country or sit it out in their manors under enhanced security.

And they will not have to go to work every day risking their lives for there is no guarantee that a new wave of terror on the part of those completely disillusioned both in the government and the fellow citizens does not come tomorrow.  

In view of this, we conjecture that the process of the cleaning up (if not the entire apparatus of the governmental and quasi-governmental structures than their very tops) is going to continue. And, at some point (but clearly not tomorrow), will result in the still ruling clan of Nursultan Nazarbayev finding itself in a position when it does not have enough “clients”.

This development will be facilitated not only by the resignations (whether voluntary or not) by the people close to the Elbasy’s relatives and allies but also by their reorientation towards other clans, first of all, that of Tokayev.

Udging by the data obtained from several sources, the 2024 presidential elections campaign has already started. For instance, they are creating media holdings and form the groups responsible for building, trimming and improving Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s image in the eyes of the Kazakh citizens and the rest of the world.

However, if the second President of the Republic of Kazakhstan has chosen to remain in power until 2029, one way or another, he will have to respond to the Kazakhs’ demands to begin investigating the crimes of the Nazarbayev clan.

And then we may witness what Tokayev’s supporters are saying now – that he gets divorced from his predecessor and begins governing the country by himself. However, this will happen only after he will have solidified his position in power. Not before.


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