Kazakhstan: Elites Getting Younger and Bleaker

Reshuffling of elites and higher officials in Kazakhstan is rarely a consequence of open political debates. Quiet resignations and appointments in the conditions of shady politics provide a fertile soil for commenters and observers to ponder on the reasons that are underneath this or that shuffle. However, there is a shared opinion that in recent years the elites are getting younger, as the “older guard” of Soviet Communist Party bosses is gradually stepping down.

Recently the Kazakhstan president has appointed Kairat Kelimbetov, a 39-year-old tecnocrat economist, educated in Moscow, as head of the presidential administration. He has made a successful carreer on the public service from the officer at the planning department in the Ministry of Economy up to the head of this ministry. Last year he was heading the state Fund of Sustainable Development “Kazyna” and became deputy chairman of the presidential “Nur-Otan” party.

Adam Kesher reminds that seven yeras ago Kelimbetov was among the founders of the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan movement (which called for democratic reforms and was subject to serious persecution by the authorities) and also opines on the reasons of such promotion:

“The post of the head of presidential administration is a key one – and one of the most powerful in the country. Whilst experts are trying to guess what stands behind the appointment (economic prioritiy of the state policy and the task of tackling the credit crunch, or renewal of the elites) one thing is pretty clear so far — it is possible to make a carrer in the public office. Perhaps, this is the main message sent by the reshuffling against the background of new attack on corruption, declared by the ruling party”.

Nemtschin agrees that the idea of elite's renovation is clear – young and modern people having no “dark Soviet past” that represent “new generation” are coming to bring in the new vision. “However, there is the reverse of the medal”, he says, meaning that youngsters may lack experience. Another problem he has witnessed at one of the cross-ministerial roundtables is that young officials often reach their success only due to outspoken loyalty to the president and the regime in general. In addition, many of them tend to take extra benefits from their positions:

“What I noticed after visiting this ministry? Some typical things include – Swiss watch, lots of handshakes, talks and circulations around the rooms, When answering the phone calls, they ask to call back next week. The main thing – implicit obedience to the boss [ru]”.

Meanwhile, another young and vivid – or rather we should call him notorious – ex-member of elite Rakhat Aliyev had a dizzy career mostly due to his close family ties with the presidential family. And it was due to the strong-willed presidential decision this former husband of Nazarbayev's elder daughter has fallen into disgrace, charged with leadership of an organized gang and kidnapping of the two men. He was recently sentenced in absentia to 20 years in jail, but he is still unreachable for the Kazakh Themis. Safely residing in Vienna (Austria), Aliyev – now presenting himself as Nazarbayev's critic – launched a website. “It was immediately blocked in Kazakhstan”, mantrovkz says [ru].

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