The arrest of the former deputy head of the presidential administration of Kazakhstan, Baglan Maylybaev, for the disclosure of government secrets, had caused an explosive effect in the country. For the first time, a government official of such high- rank, has been arrested for a political crime. Moreover, he was not an ordinary government official for that matter, but one who for the longest time, was almost solely responsible for the implementation of all ideological and domestic policy work in the republic. This fact alone calls for a detailed analysis of a nature and results of his work.
Baglan Maylybaev has been a part of Nazarbayev’s inner circle since December of 2004, after being appointed press secretary for the presidential cabinet. He has been occupying this position until the end of 2008, when he was appointed for an eight-month long assignment to the Ministry of Culture and Information of KR first as a Head of the Committee on Information and Archives and then as a Vice-minister. From there, he returned into presidential administration as a press secretary, and in 2011 became a Deputy Head of the presidential cabinet.
Thus, in the span of twelve years, with the exception of a short eight-month break, Baglan Maylybaev was part of the “leader of the nation’s” inner circle, writing his speeches and exerting a direct influence on the president, by regulating his access to the press and information in general. In other words, he influenced the president’s perception of the situation in the country and his decision-making process.
From this point of view, position of a press secretary turns out to be not so unimportant and ceremonial. On the contrary, with the right approach, this position allows for a subtle manipulation of the boss’s outlook and mood, his attitude towards his entourage and current events, and with the right delivery of a sensitive information, decide the fates of even the most heavyweight government officials.
With that in mind, it is worth noting then, that Baglan Maylybaev’s immediate supervisors in the Kazakhstan’s presidential cabinet were themselves, as a rule, a subject of informational diatribes not only from Kazakhstan’s opposition media and web-sources, but also from Russian political players. Interestingly, at the same time, no one ever disputed the fact that Mr. Maylybaev had extensive ties with important Kremlin players, including his colleagues in both Vladimir Putin’s and Dmitriy Medvedev’s administration.
Therefore, allegations that Baglan Maylybaev had been attacking his political adversaries by using proxies deserve some attention. Of course the resignations of Aslan Musin, Karim Masimov and Nurlan Nigmatulin, can all be attributed to other, weightier reasons, but the fact that their reputations were dealt a severe blow after certain publications in the media is clear and undeniable. This also means that other officials from “Leader of the Nation’s” inner circle, who suffered from similar attacks, were likely not happy with their organizer.
There is a theory going around, that by leveraging president Nazarbayev’s positive opinion of him, Baglan Maylybaev was able to block Karim Masimov’s initiative to get himself transferred into a different government position. He did that using, among other things, a folder with the blackmail on Masimov and Nigmatulin’s protégés Erjan Babkumarov and Erlan Karin.
Another aspect that speaks of Maylybaev’s ambition is the zeal with which he advanced his employees to the key positions in the media and presidential cabinet. The undesirable were removed and blacklisted, unable to find employment even as low-level journalists. Due to this, few people risked criticizing him or getting into a confrontation, which allowed him to further broaden his sphere of influence.
Moreover, there is a speculation that a bulk of the finances, allocated for the production of TV programs on “Khabar”, “Kazakhstan” and “Channel 1 – ORT” networks, were appropriated by the production centers that were under Mailybaev’s patronage. In reality, networks’ staff did the work and the money was simply laundered, since the declared costs turned out to be fictitious. Considering the scope of these schemes, we are talking about a lot more than 1.3 billion tenge, the sum with which Maylybaev was initially charged. Also under suspicion are billions in financial investment in the projects like “Institute of Eurasian Research” and “Congress of Political Scientists of Kazakhstan”.
It should be noted that Mr. Nazarbayev’s self-promotion, which was also curated by Baglan Maylybaev, has been raising few eyebrows recently. It does not even have as much to do with his efforts to form a personality cult, as it does with the adequacy of his statements and proposed ideas, including a failed attempt to rename the capital.
It has long been known that any improvisation is prohibited during president’s public appearances. All participants go through a tough vetting process, the script is prepared well ahead of time and all the speeches and comments are coordinated with the cabinet’s deputy head on domestic policy. Which means that Maylybaev was not only aware of, but played an active role in the formation of this political line.
From the very beginning, it was obvious that the formula for creating the personality cult was developed and implemented so ineptly, that it has caused a repulsion among the general public. This could have been due to an honest miscalculation on the part of people in charge, or could have been done intentionally. For example, it could have been done to greatly undermine the popularity of the Kazakhstani president and create protest sentiments, as well as to put “elbasy” in the raw with some of the most controversial dictators, and destroy previously cordial relationships with the western world.
Also, Baglan Maylybaev could be blamed for the fact that, during his almost monopolistic hold of the domestic policy and media processes in Kazakhstan, Russian media has achieved dominate positions in television, press and internet sectors of Kazakhstan’s media market. This happened not only due to it being more interesting or entertaining, but also due to a critical decline in the quality of domestic content.
In a strange coincidence, this decline in the quality of Kazakhstan’s media happened at the same time as the invitation of Russian consultants to state channels. It sounds strange, but even “Kazakhstan” channel with its hundred percent Kazakh airing had a Russian consultant. According to journalists, the “invaders” enjoyed unlimited influence, participated in all of the meetings, had a final say in the formation of informational agenda and a deciding power over the hiring policy. As a result, having received incredible financial bonuses, Russian consultants either had failed their job or had a hidden agenda from the start.
All of the above, calls for accusing Baglan Maylybaev in informational diversion, aimed at undermining constitutional foundations of the government, inner destabilization, discrediting of the country’s image and its highest officials in the eyes of the world, deliberate infringement of the informational sovereignty and granting Kremlin a domineering influence on the domestic policy processes in the republic. Which his political opponents, it seems, have already done.
Does the investigating body view his actions through these lenses? Due to confidentiality clause, we probably will not find out. Yet, if we were able to come to these conclusions, then having a full scope of evidence and information, the officials surely will not be able to miss this version.