While most Kazakhs are fighting coronavirus and the problems it’s caused simultaneously preparing for the New Year festivities, the country’s political system continues functioning in the same format — the Library and Akorda are ruling the country and the people, the government is making plans, the parliament is passing new laws, the parties are getting ready for the elections, the officials are doing everything they can while solving their individual tasks.
The problem, however, lies in the fact that this kind of stability is quite deceptive. Not because the protest sentiments in the country are growing and millions of Kazakhs will take to streets tomorrow desiring to protect their rights (this, in our opinion, is quite unlikely). But because, if something extreme does happen, no one is going to defend the existing authorities. And then the state of Kazakhstan may disintegrate in a matter of several days, the way the USSR did 29 years ago.
So far, the current authorities have enough power and possibilities to suppress all kinds of protests especially since Kazakhstan doesn’t have too many of them in contrast to the last years of the USSR and the first years of the sovereign and independent Republic of Kazakhstan. Having said that, we would like to point out that the authorities are powerless against those who take part in them. As a result, we have a situation when the country’s laws and rules get applied only to those who are ready to obey them or cannot avoid obeying them. The rest of the people, first of all, the power holders do what they want and not what’s expected of them as the country’s citizens.
Let us illustrate our point by using the example of the Mukashev family (Kazakh entrepreneurs). Recall, that they are among the country’s richest people and occupy the 24th place in the Forbes «Kazakhstan’s 50 richest businessmen» list.
We have already mentioned this family in our publications, for instance, in the one of February 21, 2020, titled «On the Alliance of Dariga and Mukashev Family» (text available in Russian). The article was written in the aftermath of cutting down 11 thousand trees in Almaty in order to clear out the territory for constructing a new shopping centre, Mall Aport East. In this article, we have made the following prediction (quoting):
«In our opinion, even if the defendants lose in the trial court (which is quite unlikely but can happen due to the high publicity of the case and the related scandal), they will probably win in appellate courts».
The reasons for our certainty that the Mukashev family would avoid any kind of punishment or get off lightly lied in the fact that, according to our insiders, they had entered into a business alliance with Dariga Nazarbayev’s, the eldest daughter of the First President and one of the most influential figures in the Kazakh ruling elite. Apart from that, by trying to be as still as a mouse, the Mukashev family can navigate their way inside the country perfectly well and are able to achieve their goals without making much noise. Which they have confirmed again recently.
Here is a quote from a Tengrinews.kz publication titled «Cutting doen TreesTrees For the New Almaty Shopping Mall: No One’s Found Responsible.
«The Almaty specialised intra-district economic court has denied the claim filed by the green economy department against the company on whose order they are building the new shopping centre at Kuldzhinsky tract. No one is going to be held responsible for cutting down more than 11 thousand trees, reports Tengrinews.kz citing inAlmaty.kz.
In February 2020, civil activists informed on the massive cutting down of the trees at the crossroads of Kuldzhinsky tract and Bukhtarminskaya street where the shopping centre was being constructed. The green economy department of Almaty said that this territory had more than 11 thousand young plants and demanded that the ordering company planted fivefold more (55 245 plants). The department had filed the claim against the company to the Almaty specialised intra-district economic court.
On December 20, Judge Dinara Shargynova denied the claim».
We do not know how the Mukashev family has solved this problem — through Dariga Nazarbayeva or via the other methods customary for Kazakhstan. Be as it may, the result of their efficiency in protecting and advocating their interests is evident.
Considering that the story has turned out to be very high-profile, one can easily make a suggestion that Mukashevs’ opponents are going to continue trying to hold them accountable for their actions. However, let us make another prediction — their efforts will not be successful. For when, in Kazakhstan, private interests of one of the elite clans collide with public interests, the former usually win. And this is one of the main problems of the Kazakh political system that the Library and Akorda cannot solve — as we know, self comes first.
So, the Parliament members can toughen the legal liability for cutting down trees as much as they want. The people and the clans akin to the Mukashev family will always find ways to get around the law or avoid punishment (particularly if they’ve got «a waterproof roof» over their heads such as a member of the Nazarbayev family or perhaps even the Elbasy himself).
P.S. When we asked the informed people about how the Mukashev family had managed to defend themselves against paying the fee for cutting down more than 11 thousand trees and spending money on planting fivefold more, they said nothing.
But they did tell us a story from 2016. With a smile.
The thing is that, when the owners a of the Aport shopping centre entered into a business-conflict with one of their big lease holders, they solved it via handing over 120 $ thousand to those who were able to guarantee the favourable decision in court. Later, however, when the lease holders had managed to revise the decision on the Supreme Court level, they entered into another conflict related to returning these US120 $ thousand; the conflict that didn’t go beyond a narrow circle of people. Back then, even one of the intermediaries who had spent his share on a luxurious, very expensive watch was forced to get back the money.
We have learned not only the name of the Mukashev family member that handed the money personally; we have learned the names of the intermediaries and other details as well. However, since these are nothing but words, we will keep quiet about it.