Will Tokayev Keep His Seat?

Appointing Krymbek Kusherbayev the Head of the second President’s Administration instead of Bakytzhan Sagintayev was a result of the compromise between the «reformers» and the «conservatives» within Nursultan Nazarbayev’s immediate circle. We have learned this from insiders belonging to the groups close to the First President.

According to the insiders, both the «reformers» and the «conservatives» are extremely concerned about the upsurge of the protest activities in Kazakhstan. However, if the former consider it possible to make certain concessions to the civil society under the condition that the stability of the political and the state system are to be preserved, the latter insist on tightening the screws.

As a result of this hidden collision, Nursultan Nazarbayev has made the decision to send Bakytzhan Sagintayev whom the «conservatives» believe to be soft and indecisive to Almaty to serve as the city’s governor and appoint Krymbek Kusherbayev instead.

Even though Kusherbayev has not been known to make tough decisions (in contrast with former Almaty Governor and current Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Russia Imangali Iasmagambetov; it’s enough to recall the Shanyrak events), their biographies and the political tactics are very similar. The best way to describe this tactic is this — «the iron hand in a velvet glove».

However, it is unlikely that the internal elite confrontation that concerns such a crucial issue as Akorda’s current domestic policy ends here. Especially since every personnel decision of both Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev is mandatorily followed by a wave of personnel reshuffles within the state structures which is very sensitive to all those affected by it.

It is possible that the «conservatives», siloviki in particular, will try to solidify their individual victory. Among other things, in our opinion, they may try to infringe upon Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev’s presidency. Especially considering that the latter is already being compared to Mikhail Gorbachev (in a negative way) as well as accused of being weak and flirting with the civil society.

It is obvious that, since, politically speaking, Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev is but an obedient tool in Nursultan Nazarbayev’s hands, he cannot determine the county’s internal political line. Everyone in Kazakhstan including the high-ranked siloviki understands that. However, due to his secondary importance, Tokayev, to them, has become a perfect clay pigeon: it is one thing to go against the Leader of the Nation and his political line, but speaking against his successor is an entirely different matter.

Considering the Kazakh realia, this, among other things, means that the destructive processes within the state apparatus (inefficient enough already) will intensify. For instance, as far as the governmental orders are concerned, officials will start if not sabotage them then to carry them out half-heartedly as it used to be done in the USSR during the perestroika period.

If this happens, the risks of the «conservatives» solidifying their position in power will rise significantly. The «conservatives» then will start to outfight the «reformers» and the issue of replacing Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev with a stronger figure will appear on the agenda.

This will not happen today and certainly not before the parliamentary elections, however, the likelihood of the realization of this scenario we believe is growing every day. Especially if the number of different kinds of incidents, accidents and protest activities is to rise in the country.

The only thing that can keep Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev in his seat for the duration of the entire period allotted to him by the Constitution is Nursultan Nazarbayev’s passing. Then the ruling elites will be forced to maintain a certain status quo in order to preserve the internal political stability and escape with a whole skin.


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