After Ryskaliyev’s dismissal, Atyrau, a remote city from the Ak Orda (Presidential residence in Astana), has become the epicenter of political intrigues and plunged into high-profile scandals, including a tragicomedic one such as the demarche of local deputies. The recent visit of the Nur Otan Party First Deputy Chairman N. Nigmatullin, confessions of General Prosecutor A. Daulbayev and the chief of Financial Police R. Tusupbekov about the high caliber corruption in Atyrau Oblast did not cast light upon the true situation. Ak Zhaik asked a famous political scientist, a candidate of political sciences, the head of Risk Assessment Group Dossym SATPAYEV to give his evaluation of the political situation around the governor’s dismissal.
- Would you please comment the situation emerged after the dismissal of B. Ryskaliyev – it was expected that high-profile corruption cases and the ‘behavior’ of the local elite would cause the reaction of the President and Parliament. But nobody mentioned the subject on Sep 3 (when Parliament convened). A pause emerged generating new rumors. Do you think there is an ongoing bargaining between Ryskaliyev’s patron Aslan Mussin and the President? What is the probable outcome of this struggle? What may be the consequences of Mussin’s resignation or, in contrary, strengthening of his positions?
- Firstly, the experience shows that the President never publicly comments on any staff replacements, especially those at the provincial level. Surely, certain corruption facts are not the top subject. Investigation has just started and the folder with incriminating evidence against the oblast’s former administration and their patrons in Astana will grow thicker. It is worth mentioning that any loud scandal with involvement of high-profile government officials hits the reputation of the Ak Orda itself.
Secondly, there is always a trade off. In general, the elite’s behind-the-scene relations in Kazakhstan have always been a combination of secret war and bargaining. They dismiss ones and buy others. None of the Kazakhstan elite members (even the Presidential family members) may run any bargain with the head of state, due to being at different levels. If Mussin faced problems he only has to draw attention away to his opponents. In fact, there is a war of damaging information in process. Folders and analytical notes from various groups that have access to the President’s ears are regularly being laid on his table. But the final decision is solely made by the head of state, firstly owing to the principle of maintaining balance of powers within the elite. Nobody may feel winner in this war. Everyone should remember that the President is always the ultimate judge.
- General Prosecutor told about criminal proceedings launched and described the mechanism and caliber of corruption, obviously linked to the personae of the ex-akim. However, to the question about Ryskaliyev’s whereabouts and the alleged arrest, he shortly said he didn’t know. What do you think is the reason of General Prosecutor’s such behavior? Maybe, again, due to the bargaining being still in progress?
- The fate of Ryskaliyev and Mussin has not been decided yet. The President, as a Roman emperor, has not yet raised his thumb up or down. As I mentioned before, the decision will be made based upon whose folder of dirty information is thicker. Taking into account that Mussin’s team is opposed by a coalition of several influential players, their folder may turn to be heavier.
- In your opinion, is the demarche of the local deputies just a silliness or it bears the signs of separatism?
- Experience has shown that if any high-profile government official starts using letters from the people in his defense, this means he feels that his positions are declining in behind-the-scene war. In fact, this is a sign of nomenclatural weakness. As for the deputies, their behavior again shows their dependence on the local elite, which they are a part of, from one side and on Astana, from the other side. Literally, they happened between two fires and caught in a comic situation. Of course, this is not good for their reputation.
- Most politicians predicted a ‘hot’ political autumn and a start of serious political reforms. Do you agree with these forecasts?
- To me, the ‘hot politics’ is not related to the subsequent personnel replacements in other oblasts and even in the government. This is like walking round a circle. There is a saying – it is a stress made on some trees only, not the whole forest. The more important issues are related to forming a clear and understandable (for the elite and society) mechanism of succession of power in the country. The future of Kazakhstan depends on these more fundamental processes. Unfortunately, not a single word is being said about this mechanism. Possibly, they will hold this until 2016. But the time is playing against us.
By Saule TASBULATOVA