Nazarbayev's Mistake

On January, 18, 2022, the “leader of the nation” was, at long last, presented to the Kazakh citizens. The text of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s address was published on the Library’s official website and the its video recording was released on YouTube. And even though the question of whether or not the Elbasy is alive has been answered, he and his people have made a serious political mistake.

Let us explain why we think so. We will start with the text of the address.

Since this is a document in which Nursultan Nazarbayev publicly shifts the responsibility for the January tragedy onto his successor at the presidential post and calls himself a retiree and a pensioner, let us quote it in its entirety (text in bold by

“My fellow Kazakhs!

My dear fellow citizens!

The January events have shaken the entire Kazakhstan. Destroying the unity of our country and the foundations of our state were the purpose of these organised disturbances and attacks against Kazakhstan.

These events have shown, yet again, that independence should be cherished like the apple of our eye, like a fragile vessel that needs to be handled gently.  

This tragedy is a lesson to us all. It is important to uncover who has organised all these pogroms and murders. The investigation will give an answer to this question.

Let me express my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the deceased. Let me wish the injured to get well soon.  

Responding to the numerous questions addressed to me and in view of some media publications, I will say that, in 2019, I handed the presidential authorities to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and, since then, I have been a pensioner. Currently, I am living in retirement in the capital of Kazakhstan and staying put.

President Kassym-Jomart Tkayev has the plentitude of the power. He is the Chairman of the Security Council. Soon, he is to be elected the president of the Nur Otan party. Therefore, no conflict or struggle is happening within the elite. The rumours on this subject are completely unfounded.

Everyone knows that, for thirty years, I have been working tirelessly in the name of our Homeland.

We have conducted progressive reforms.

Together we have built independent Kazakhstan, achieved great results in the socio-economic development, become leaders in many areas not only in Central Asia but in the CIS.  

Kazakhstan has become a visible and respected member of the global community. Such is the result of the solidarity and the unity of all the Kazakhs.  

Our country’s stability and peacefulness have always been my goal. We must cherish these timeless values. We will undoubtedly overcome this crisis and become even stronger than we were.

The President has proposed a new program of reforms aimed to increase the wellbeing of our people. We need to support this program.

My fellow citizens, I wish you good health and happiness!

I thank you for supporting my course of the reforms and modernisation that I had conducted while serving as the head of the state”.

It is not hard to notice that Nursultan Nazarbayev or, rather, his aides who have written the text of the address avoid answering the question of who is responsible for the peaceful protests that turned into disturbances and then the direct conflicts with the siloviks, the seizures of the governmental buildings and the robberies of the shops and eating establishments.

They have simply skipped over this issue by saying that “the investigation will gave an answer to this question”.

Moving on. We have been surprised by Nursultan Nazarbayev’s statement that “no conflict or struggle is happening within the elite”.

The thing is that not only is the conflict taking place, it is unavoidable since we are dealing with a rather large group of people who, one way or another, are involved in developing and carrying our the state policy, who control big businesses and have weight in certain spheres. And so on, and so forth. This group is doomed to have internal conflicts and struggles. Such is the rule that exists everywhere, not only in Kazakhstan.

We at believe that such a careless statement on the part of the so-called “leader of the nation” shows exactly that a struggle is happening on the top of the Kazakh ruling elite.

Of course, this struggle does not necessarily involve Nursultan Nazarbayev himself and his successor at the presidential post. But the fact that the conflict is taking place between Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s circle and the Elbasy’s friends and relatives is beyond dispute. For, the acting head of the state has been forced to reduce the latter’s spheres of influence, take away their businesses and encroach upon their money in order to calm the protests and stabilise the internal political situation.

Finally, we have laughed at the fact that the First President of Kazakhstan has suddenly remembered that all his successes and achievements, both real and imaginative, are a result of not only his own labour but the labour of all the Kazakh citizens. Replacing Nazarbayev’s usual “I” with “we” shows that the January “explosion” of the protest sentiments has brought the First President back to earth. That’s exactly what the protestors in Taldykorgan have done with the Elbasy’s monument in the literal sense of the word.

The rest of the address is the repetition of the usual – a reminder of the “leader of the nation’s” successes, words of support directed towards Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and, let us repeat, a complete lack of desire to dot i’s and cross t’s and take ownership for what has happened.  

As for the video recording of the address, we find is quite shocking. And, judging by the commentaries on the Internet and the publications on the media resources uncontrolled by Akorda and the Library, we are not the only ones.

According to the estimates of some bloggers, this video that lasts 4 minutes and 31 seconds (Nursultan Nazarbayev reads the text of the address twice, first in Kazakh and then in Russian) contains 37 cuts (see, for instance Given the brevity of the material, this seems ludicrous.

In our opinion, there can be three explanations for this. 

1) Nursultan Nazarbayev looks so bad that they chose not to show him to the people. They laid his voice over an old video and, in order to hide this, made a number of cuts (to preserve the internal political stability so to speak);

2) Nursultan Nazarbayev read this address taking a number of breaks due to serious health problems;

3) the video was shot and edited by non-professionals (for instance, by Nazarbayev’s personal security staff or someone else with access to the “leader of the nation’s” body).  

We are not going to venture guesses as to which one of the aforementioned scenarios was realised on January 18. Regardless, it is now clear that the physical life of the Elbasy is coming to an end and his political life seems to have already finished.

Concluding this commentary, we will underscore that, by giving his address (or an imitation of it), the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan has mage an important contribution into the future of the country and of the Kazakh citizens. He has demonstrated, publicly, that “the emperor has no clothes on”. And we personally would like to thank him for it, awfully and sincerely!


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