Sub Rosa Endorsement
The article everyone is talking about today is Yermukhamet Yertysbayev’s interview with Russian newspaper, Kommersant in which he stated that Timur Kulibayev will replace President Nazarbayev if something should happen. The interview covers a lot of recent controversies, and was pretty clearly designed to allay concerns about some of the machinations in Astana, such as the appointment of the head of the pro-presidential party, Nur Otan, as head of Ak Zhol, at least on paper an opposition party. And accusations by Mukhtar Ablyazov that Kulibayev has abused his power as head of KazMunaiGas and SamrukKazyna.
Yertysbayev is the first government official to say that the President was in fact in hospital in Germany, but that it was just a routine check-up.
But what people are focusing on is that Yertisbayev suggested that Ablyazov targeted Kulibayev precisely because he is the only one who can carry on his father-in-law’s strategy in the event of his “sudden departure”.
The full exchange on this (Google translated because of time restrictions):
Following the appointment of Timur Kulibayev head the National Welfare Fund “Samruk Kazyna”, which generates about 53% of GDP in Kazakhstan, many experts have suggested that Nazarbayev is preparing to succeed him. What are his chances? And why is it Mukhtar Ablyazov chose a prime target, though, as a successor is often called other names?
- Honestly, I would not, in principle, to speculate about his successor. Recently I had a conversation with the president. It is up to December 2016 is the president, he is full of vigor and energy, he has big plans for industrial-innovative development of the country, so we are going to talk hypothetically, what if this happens. You look at what the main target of attacks by Ablyazov in the past two years. This Kulibayev. Ablyazov attacks him constantly, catapulted into the information field, a lot of incriminating material Timur Kulibayev frankly libelous, which were not confirmed. He is trying to discredit him in the eyes of the elite, to show that Kulibayev absolutely can not be in the role of the head. Trying to show the futility of his in the literal sense. And that means only one thing: that Kulibayev is the main obstacle and now the main enemy Ablyazov. Because it is clear that man can never forgive such things are already done in his address Ablyazov. And Ablyazov knows that in the event of an emergency situation related to the sudden departure of head of state, namely Kulibayev be able to continue the strategic course of the president, to continue and maintain basic directions of state-political system, embodied in the constitution of 1995, which is called “Nazarbayev.” From this point of view Kulibayev and Mukhtar Ablyazov and Rahat Aliev, and for others, so to speak, of refugees is a great danger if not, then at least a lot of trouble. Because I know Timur Kulibayev well. He graduated from the Economics Faculty of Moscow State University, was one of the best students, has a systemic thinking has vast managerial experience gained not only during the “Samruk Kazyna”, but much earlier. Although he has worked in government and was Governor of the region, but has the experience it through the prism of state and political management. Therefore, I believe that the attacks are caused primarily Ablyazov this circumstance.
It’s not quite the clear and ringing endorsement that other news sources are making it out to be; Even the title of the article takes the quote out of context to make it sound much more dramatic.
But the fact that the adviser to the President would name any names is rather striking. Yertysbayev’s speculations and ideas are often uncannily prophetic. It sometimes seems that his role is to announce some of the more extreme or politically risky plans of the Presidents. Then if they are badly received, it’s easy enough to say that Yertysbayev was just giving his own opinion. So I would guess that Yertysbayev is throwing Kulibayev’s name out to see how the world reacts.
I say the world because it’s also significant that this interview was conducted with a Russian newspaper. One might think Nazarbayev’s successor would be named in the Kazakhstan media first. I suspect that this announcement was mainly to allay the fears of Russian and Western leaders and investors, not to address the citizens of Kazakhstan.
A final issue is, of course, the fact that the Constitution clearly spells out the succession if something happens to the President. Rather than reminding the world that Kazakhstan, as a law-abiding democratic state, has stable laws, this interview throws a monkey wrench into the law code. For trivia buffs, the line of succession is Chairman of the Senate, then Chairman of the Mazhilis, then Prime Minister.
So as usual for Kazakhstan, even public forums are used secretively to sort of kind of indicate a possible direction for starting to think about something that might happen, unless it doesn’t.