Nigmatulin Failing Out?

After Dariga Nazarbayeva’s dismissal, her colleague from the Mazhilis Nurlan Nigmatulin seems to be loosing firm ground. On one hand, Baurzhan Baybek is confidently pushing him aside, one the other, there is the second President with whom the Speaker of the Mazhilis cannot manage to establish a relationship.                                                                                               

The unexpected dismissal of Dariga Nazarbayeva from the post of the Head of the Senate of the Kazakh Parliament and her replacement with a state/party-type bureaucrat Maulen Ashimbayev had invariantly led to Speaker of Mazhilis Nurlan Nigmatulin coming to the front of the legislative branch of power.

The fact that he has recently been received by the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev himself can serve as an indirect proof of that. However, this does not mean that Mr. Nigmatulin’s position in the country and within the internal political power balance has solidified; quite the opposite, rather.

The thing is, many in Akorda and the Library believe that the current Head of the Lower Chamber of the Parliament has clearly sat in his chair for too long. Moreover, Nurlan Nigmatulin’s ill-wishers include today’s two very influential persons – the acting Head of the state Kossym-Jomart Tokayev and First Deputy Head of the Nur Otan Party Baurzhan Baybek. 

The reasons for their negative attitude have both political and personal sub-currents.

According to some data, Kossym-Jomart Tokayev was extremely displeased with the Mazhilis Speaker back at the time when he himself served as the Head of the Senate. First of all, due to the fact that Nurlan Nigmatulin was much more active in the political and information space, quite often demonstrated his superiority over Tokayev and openly called the Upper Chamber “a gathering of old-age pensioners”.

For the proud and ambitious Kossym-Jomart Tokayev who had thought himself underestimated, this, as well as the fact that the Nigmatulin family was much more successful in business than Tokayev’s and, therefore, more rich, was like “a stab to the heart”. 

According to the insiders, Baurzhan Baybek, in his turn, is dreaming of becoming the Head of the Mazhilis. Especially since the reasons for his non-public disagreements with Nurlan Nigmatulin are piling up. Why? If only because the deputies of the Nur Otan party (and not just them) are, on one hand, controlled and managed by the Head of the Chamber and, on the other hand, must execute the orders and follow the line determined by the First Deputy President of the Nur Otan Party. And, as we know, two meatheads cannot be cooked in one pot. 

Considering that Nurlan Nigmatulin is no less proud and ambitious than Kossym-Jomart Tokayev, it is not at all surprising that, once they stopped being colleagues and the latter became the President, the relationships between them have not improved. Moreover, there is talk that the Head of the Mazhilis is much less referential towards the acting Head of the state than he was towards the latter’s predecessor and sometimes, perhaps even on purpose, allows himself to use the patronising tone in regard to Tokayev.

Based on the information provided by our insiders, those in Kossym-Jomart Tokayev’s immediate circle believe that the Head of the Mazhilis does not show real support to the President as well as to all his ideas and suggestions on how things must be done (including the ones in the press). They consider this kind of restraint on the part of Nigmatulin something between opposition and disrespect and draw their own conclusions. With that, they mark any delay of any law approval (for instance, the one on broadening the presidential powers at the time of the emergency rule) with a negative sign. 

Since Kazakhstan is gearing towards the parliamentary elections (they are to happen quite soon), the question of who will lead the next composition of the Mazhilis is one of the most important ones that Akorda and the Library have to decide right now – will it be Nurlan Nigmatulin or someone else. Not surprisingly, all the participants of this play that, in its turn, serves as an element of a strategic game arbitrarily called “who will rule the country after Nursultan Nazarbayev” have become very active.

According to the insiders, Nurlan Nigmatulin has begun to make attempts (albeit, so far, weak ones) to normalise the relationships with the acting Head of the state. It is hard to say how Kossym-Jomart Tokayev has responded to them, but some in the President’s circle believe that the best position in the state apparatus that the current Head of the Mazhilis deserves is “a head of a regional administration” and nothing more than that.

The insiders believe that the negative attitude towards Nurlan Nigmatulin is shared by Speaker of the Senate Maulen Ashimbayev and the current leadership of the Presidential Administration. Therefore, even such seemingly mundane things such as when the Senate decides to send a revised legislature draft back to the Mazhilis, are considered a whack on Nurlan Nigmatulin’s nose. Which, in its turn, maddens the allies of the latter.

One shouldn’t be surprised then that the opponents of the Head of the Mazhilis are preparing to play their trump cards against him. For example, the gambling business law may serve as a bomb placed underneath him. This legislature, on Nurlan Nigmatulin initiative, includes a clause on localising betting firms in reservations and creating a single centre (“bet accounting centre - BAC”) that will handle all types of payments. There are talks that the creation of this centre is being lobbied by the Speaker’s twin-brother, entrepreneur Yerlan Nigmatulin (according to some data, he’s got his own interest in Kazakhtelecom and it is he who will be handling the BAC). 

This explains why the Mazhilis is ignoring the position of the Presidential Administration that has unequivocally spoken against the introduction of these norms that go against Tokayev’s position. Obviously, in such a situation, Maulen Ashimbayev will have to sent the legislature back for revision, otherwise, they will end up with a precedent of ignoring the position of Akorda.

The draft of the Code of People’s Health and Healthcare System may become yet another cause for massive attacks on the current Head of the Mazhilis launched by the press and the civil society. According to the draft legislature, vaccination and post-mortem organ donation are to be mandatory in the country. Given the noticeable “patriarchization” of the Kazakh society, it is this kind of mistakes that may damage the Mazhilis Speaker’s reputation to such an extent that it will result in his dismissal.         

Taking into account the insiders’ information that, on the threshold of the upcoming parliamentary elections, First Deputy Head of Nur Otan Baurzhan Baybek has requested a constant surveillance of the Mazhilis deputies and their activities (for the purpose of making sure what their “orientation” is), we quite allow for the possibility that Nurlan Nigmatulin will not make it to the voting list of the ruling party. And even if he will, there is no guarantee that he is going to become a deputy let alone the Speaker of the Chamber. 

On the other hand, his dismissal may happen sooner than that. Just the way it happened with Dariga Nazarbayeva. For Nurlan Nigmatulin, any error may end up being the fatal one.


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