Why They Dismissed Askar Zhumagaliyev

On July 20, 2020, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kossym-Jomart Tokayev released Askar Zhumagaliyev from the duties as the Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry. And now it seems the clouds are growing heavier over him. But is the storm going to hit?

Unfortunately, Akorda’s website does not contain the text of the presidential order, therefore, the exact wording of Askar Zhumagaliyev’s dismissal is unknown — whether it was due to taking another job, or based on damnatory evidence, or something else. However, one should take notice of the three events that followed the dismissal. 

  • the appointment of Bagdat Musin the First Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
  • the announcement made by Alik Shpekbayev, the Head of the Anti-Corruption Agency, that two criminal investigations against high-ranked officials from the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry are now being conducted,
  • the arrest of Vice Minister of Healthcare Olzhas Abishev by the Economic Investigation Service of the Financial Monitoring Committee of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Why do we think these events are connected with Askar Zhumagaliyev? Because, in the first two instances, they are directly related to the agency he used to chair and, in the third instance, we are talking about the arrest of the Vice Minister who was responsible for the informatization issues at the Healthcare Ministry.

We are not to forecast Askar Zhumagaliyev’s immediate future but he, in our opinion, currently represents one of the most professional, skilled and successful state managers despite having the familial connections that, undoubtedly, had helped him in his successful career.

On the other hand, according to our insiders, the initiative to fire Zhumagaliyev from the position of the Minister and to appoint Bagdat Musin the First Deputy Head of this agency belongs to President Kossym-Jomart Tokayev personally.

If in the case of Mr. Musin everything is more or less clear (in Akorda, he is now thought to be «Tokayev’s henchman»), then the reasons for Zhumagaliyev’s disfavour are unknown. With that, we quite allow for the possibility that the two criminal cases open by the Anti-Corruption Agency against top officials from the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry are not without foundation albeit their main purpose is to exert the pressure on the official and his protectors in order to force him to leave his post.

Two circumstances testify in favour of this scenario:

first, there is the fact that it was Head of the Anti-Corruption Agency Alik Spekbayev himself who had informed the public on the opening of the criminal cases (according to the insiders, he did so following Kossym-Jomart Tokayev’s personal request),

second, there is the absence of information on why the criminal cases have been opened even though, as a rule, the Anti-Corruption Agency does not shy away from disclosing details of investigations in order to impress the pubic so to speak.

In view of this, we do allow for the possibility that now, when Tokayev has managed to fire Askar Zhumagaliyev and bring his henchman Bagdat Musin to the agency, these criminal investigations are to die down.

The likelihood of this scenario can be confirmed by these two factors:

  • Askar Zhumagaliyev is related to Kayrat Mami who, in the past, used to be a longstanding President of the Supreme Court and Prosecutor General and who is now serving as the President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In other words, he is a person who does not differ from Kossym-Jomart Tokayev in terms of his merits to the «Leader of the Nation». 

  • Bagdat Musin has been appointed the First Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry but not the actual Minister. Even though it is possible that, soon, he is to be promoted, perhaps the matter lies exactly in the fact that the Library has still not sanctioned such a step. And this tells us that a final decision on this case has not been made yet.


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