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Kozlov: before and after verdict

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At the moment Kazakh media is peppered with various articles about the verdict on Vladimir Kozlov (7.5 years imprisonment and confiscation of property) - ones say he is guilty, while the others claim the contrary. Personally, I don't that care about this question, but I do about the question that both sides didn't mention at all: What will be the consequences of such a court sentence? Definitely, it is a milestone in our political history.

I would classify the verdict consequences as international, domestic policy related and staff related.

International consequences:

The West, to wide extent, gets a lever of influence on Kazakhstan, i.e. virtually, Kazakhstan's Vladimir Kozlov is Russia's Mikhail Khodorkovskiy. Even worse, because the accusations weren't of economic character. More likely, his verdict is similar to Pussy Riot, but with a smaller media campaign. From now, any other country or democracy watchdog organizations will regularly be laying claims to Kazakhstan on this issue.

Possible loss of the Mukhtar Ablyazov case. Previously, huge efforts were made to recategorize the case from political, that Ablyazov would prefer, to economic character. Now, based on the Kozlov's case, Ablyazov's lawyers will easily prove the case political.

Reputation of Kazakh court has worsened even more. After this, Europe and US will not extradite anybody to Kazakhstan for sure.

Domestic policy related consequences:

Suppressing the Alga Party and the entire political protest into radical and marginal underground. By this, the country's political powers were sent a message: trying to act within the existing legal environment is very difficult.

Mystery of Mukhtar Ablyazov's next step in his struggle against ruling political regime. Previously, it was clear - this is Alga and it will do certain things. Now, it is unknown what will Ablyazov do in his attempts to overthrow the existing political regime. Quite possibly, from now illegal structures will be acting and organizing things more serious than just strikes. Seeing the 'skills' of our force structures it is hard to imagine how such organizations might be countered. 

Questions of loyalty within political parties and any other public associations. As per Article 65 of Criminal Code, all close associates and aides of the organization's leader were pardoned, whereas he has been convicted. A dilemma emerged: on one hand, opposition leaders can't trust their team, on the other hand, it is easier to recruit associates, because to them, it is psychologically easier to know that in the worst case scenario they may repent and be excused.

Sharply political process. Before, prominent figures used to be mainly convicted for corruption and upon other economic accusations. In this case, they inventively developed the case of Natalya Sokolova, a lawyer who supported the Zhanaozen strikes in 2011, by choosing paragraphs quite difficult to interpret from other section of Criminal Code.

Staff consequences:

Sacrificing midlevel government officials. As we witnessed, in order to tag the process non-political, they also sacrificed Orak Sarbopeyev, ex-mayor of Zhanaozen (10 years imprisonment and confiscation of property). Likely, soon they will sacrifice Amangeldy Aitkulov and several managers of oil companies. He was sentenced to serve bigger term than Kozlov with the purpose to demonstrate that "there wasn't any cherry picking or any other politically motivated decision." Now imagine the attitude of midlevel officials toward top power after such a treatment.

Breaking of clan ties. The officials convicted or on the trial, are members of one or another influential group, which possibly unsuccessfully had advocated its members. A question of loyalty emerges - Why member the group if it does not help in difficult situation?

Danger for officials in West Kazakhstan. Bigger social unrest in your region means you are at bigger risk of arrest, despite all efforts and your loyalty to top power.

As a whole, by jailing Kozlov, the power achieved a short-term doubtful victory on one side, and a bunch of long-term big problems on the other side, and it will be quite difficult to resolve them. In the light of extremely complex regional situation, it is very strange to undertake additional problems.

By Marat Shibutov, Vlast

October 15 2012, 11:02

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