On August 29, 2020, Internet-resource KZ.media published an article titled «Pig in a Poke: Why State Officials Are Buying the Half-Baked Turkish Artificial Ventilators?». We could not help but wonder who was behind this truly strange decision and here is what we have learned on the subject.
Let us begin with a quote from the aforementioned article (text in bold hereinafter by kz.expert).
«After the summer collapse of Kazakhstan’s healthcare system when you had to wait a month for a CAT scan or when artificial respirators were created out of anything that the doctors and patients could find, the officials started talking about providing additional equipment to the hospitals. In particular, they were talking about artificial lung ventilators. Of course, problems began right from the start, first of all, with calculating the scale of the necessity.
It was estimated that the country’s hospitals needed three to five thousands ventilators. The latest and, at this point, final figure was announced by Minister of Healthcare Alexey Tsoy on July 21.
«As of today, the infectious diseases hospitals own 1958 artificial ventilators; 4183 ventilators are being purchased together with the Governor’s Offices (3105 of these are bought from local producers); more than 21 thousand beds will be hooked up to administer oxygen», said he at the Government meeting.
Almost 28 bln tenge have been allocated for the purchasing of the 3105 locally produced ventilators».
Then the article informs on who has become an almost exclusive ventilator supplier. Here are two more quotes.
«As follows from the document signed by Head of the Government Askar Marin, the local producer represented by a single company is literally going to be created right before our eyes. Since «based on the results of the operational tests, the medical experts have chosen the Turkish ventilator BIOVENT as the most suitable one in terms of the technical performance and in terms of meeting all the criteria described above».
«For the purpose of accelerating the start of the production, Kazakhstan has signed agreements on technologies transfer and on large-scale supplies of accessory components with the Government of the Republic of Turkey. The Kazakh-Turkish defence/industrial enterprise Kazakhstan Aselsan Engineering LLP (Nur-Sultan city) that possesses all the necessary capacities and technical abilities to learn the production process and maintain the equipment has been chosen as the production facility. The gradual launch of the production will enable us to deliver the first supplies of the ready-for-service ventilators as early as August. With that, Kazakhstan Aselsan Engineering LLP will provide a comprehensive solution to the problem — the production, the warranty service available 24/7, and furnishing of the artificial ventilators with air compressors, moisturisers and masks. We are planning to deliver 3105 ventilators altogether. For this purpose, the Government has allocated 27 bln 634 mln 500 thousand tenge from the reserve. The proper authorities are to conduct the monitoring of the spending of the funds as per their intended purpose», responds the Prime-Minister».
We are not to judge how good the BIOVENT ventilators are or how reasonable their purchasing is from the cost-effectiveness standpoint. Although there is enough of those who disagree with this decision. We, however, are point to comment on this purchase by looking at it from the internal political angle.
The thing is that, based on information provided by our insiders, the Minister of Healthcare and the agency he chairs are not the key players in this operation. The key role in it belongs to Minister of Industry and Infrastructural Development Beybut Atamkulov. It was he who, while the Minister of Defence and Aerospace Industry, became one of the main lobbies of this Kazakh/Turkish joint venture and, when he was appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, assisted in promoting this business project even further.
Here is a quote from an article titled «The Heads of Kazakhstan’s and Turkey’s MFAs Report on the Record-Setting Turnover and Aim to Increase the Trade Up To 5 $ Bln» published on Armenian Internet-resource asmInfo on May 24, 2019.
«The key goal set by the heads of the states is to increase the bilateral trade up to 5 $ bln. It is my pleasure to inform you that, during the first three months of the current year, the bilateral turnover has moved into top gear having reached 632 $ mln. Against the results of last year, the growth constitutes more than 50%», said Beybut Atamkulov at the press-conference held after his meeting with Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Chavushoglu».
«Atamkulov has also underscored that more than 2200 Turkish-owned businesses are operating in different sectors of Kazakhstan’s economy today.
The Kazakhstan Aselsan Engineering joint venture serves as one of the examples of our cooperation in the defence industry (…)».
In what way Beybut Atamkulov is connected to the large Turkish corporation engaged in weapons supply and production and charged by a person thought to be close to Turkey’s President Erdogan is a subject for a separate research. In the context of this article, something else is of importance — the fact that the purchasing of artificial ventilators for Kazakh hospitals is conducted not by the Ministry of Healthcare but by the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development.
Note that, according to our insiders, on the advice of his unofficial supervisor Abay Bisembayev (the Aide to the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan — the First Deputy Head of the Department of Presidential Affairs), Minister of Healthcare Alexey Tsoy had backed off after some confrontation over the issue. Allegedly, this is the way the Library thanked Beybut Atamkulov for handing over the business centre in Almaty located at the intersection of Satpayev Street and Zhandosov Street that is situated behind the «Rakhat» hotel to Nursultan Nazarbayev’s family.
Allegedly, at first, the two towers of the business-centre came under control of billionaire Timor Kulibayev, the Elbasy’s son-in-law and the Head of the Atameken National Entrepreneurs Chamber, and then the latter gave one of the towers to the daughter of Kazakh businessman Kayrat Boranbayev when she married Aisultan, the son of Dariga Nazarbayeva.
Unfortunately, at this point, we cannot confirm this information via documentary evidence, however, we do allow for such a possibility that this is the way it happened. Therefore, we will limit ourselves to registering our version of the events: it is Beybut Atamkulov who is standing behind the decision to buy the Turkish ventilators; in his turn, Alexey Tsoy chose not to insist on purchasing medical equipment that is cheaper and of a better quality after receiving an order from above.
And, as likely as not, the Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Kazakhstan is going to keep silent in response to the baffled questions of doctors and patients while the Government will not insist on reexamining this state purchase.
However, we may be mistaken.