Akezhan Kazhegeldin is a Kazakh politician who served because the second Prime Minister of Kazakhstan from October 1994 till his resignation in October 1997. The Digital Freedom Community credit Kazhegeldin’s premiership with the institution of a ‘steady forex, financial institution system, and privatisation applications which led to development.’ In 1998, he was elected President of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan. Following the publication of his guide, Kazakhstan: The Proper to Select, variations between Kazhegeldin and President Nazarbayev emerged over his criticisms concerning the political and financial state of affairs within the nation. Subsequently, Kazhegeldin’s 21st Century Freedom Basis sponsored amendments to the Kazakh structure regarding free elections. A campaigner for democracy and human rights in Kazakhstan, Akezhan Kazhegeldin lives in exile within the West. This interview was carried out by Stephen M. Bland.
Following protests in Kazakhstan, the like of which haven’t been seen since 1986, on Wednesday the 5th of January the federal government resigned and a two-week state of emergency was declared after the mayor’s workplace and metropolis corridor have been set ablaze in Almaty. Though these protests have been been sparked by an increase in gas costs, the anger behind them appears to talk to a long-standing discontent with the authorities. What’s your tackle occasions?
These have been peaceable demonstrations by the Kazakh individuals – throughout the nation this time, it was large all through the areas and cities – individuals had calls for on financial points and for political reform. Issues simply saved getting worse, and the slogan was to exchange Nazarbayev from each single place he nonetheless managed. Sadly, in Almaty, the previous capital with a inhabitants of over three million, a harmful ingredient bought concerned on the night time of the 4th of January and so they compromised the peaceable motion and began attacking state buildings. We consider it was provoked and led by the oligarchs and wealthy individuals who have been dropping their energy along with Nazarbayev, together with his household and inside circle.
Do you assume the protests have been quelled or will stay ongoing?
I hope issues will quiet down over the subsequent couple of days, after which we’ll see what the federal government goes to do. I hope and I strongly recommend that Mr Tokayev will get again to his workplace and begins to work with Kazakh residents and listens fastidiously to their calls for, together with the political and financial reforms he promised two and a half years in the past. In fact, we perceive he was not solely in cost; Nazarbayev was at all times behind him, and that was not constructive. His harmful affect has been a continuing interruption for any choices by Tokayev, but Tokayev remained loyal till January 5th, when he took over the entire thing. Proper now, we perceive that he’s in cost, although the state of affairs stays unclear as to what may occur. I hope he’ll proceed to take over and use all of the instruments at his disposal to carry order and reshuffle the federal government, beginning with regulation enforcement, the army and the safety equipment. It’s time to kick away everyone appointed by Nazarbayev and produce the period of Nazarbayev to an finish. It’s a shabby finish to thirty years of Nazarbayev in energy, sadly with bloodshed and many individuals killed, some who participated violently, and a few who have been fully harmless. Due to this fact, we consider the investigation by the federal government which has already begun and is being led by the president goes to be goal, clear, and the individuals of Kazakhstan will perceive what actually occurred. We additionally consider that each single particular person concerned on this tried coup shall be introduced into the sunshine and other people will perceive the function of the inside circle. We don’t consider Mr Massimov [the arrested former Security Chief] acted alone. It’s nearly unimaginable as a result of the deputy subsequent to him is the nephew of Nazarbayev [Samat Abish], the person who taken care of him and was in command of Mr Massimov and the way he was main the safety company.
Do you assume Nazarbayev is completed now? And do you assume he’s nonetheless within the nation or he’s fled?
There are loads of rumours. He’s not talking personally with the nation, and it’s not a very good time for him to, as a result of he’s completely out of belief. If he tried to even seem on the TV, he would make the state of affairs a lot worse. It’s time for him simply to depart in peace. If Tokayev has given him a assure, he have to be quiet, settle someplace, and simply shut up. It’s time for him to depart.
What have you ever product of the CSTO troops coming in? Do you assume Tokayev has made a deal that he’s going to present one thing to Russia as a way to get these “peacekeepers” on the bottom?
I don’t assume so; I don’t consider there was any form of trade. I believe this treaty – and it’s the primary time they’ve used this software – will also be utilized in different instances in different international locations. Sadly, the treaty says they may help one another in case of an invasion the place some third celebration assaults a member of the organisation, however proper now it appears like they’re utilizing it extra like an auxiliary police service; however there’s additionally clear proof that Tokayev clearly doesn’t belief the Safety Service or regulation enforcement due to what’s occurred. His order for a State of Emergency was ignored by the Almaty authorities, by the mayor, the top of police, and even by males he appointed to be answerable for the State of Emergency program. So, he can’t belief regulation enforcement or the army companies. I perceive why he requested the CSTO to come back in, but when he asks ask them to depart, let’s say within the subsequent couple of weeks when every little thing has settled down, that can imply he’s actually in cost and he’s accountable. The second occasion, which satisfied me he’s actually in bother, is that he requested investigators from Russia to search out out what occurred. Which means he nonetheless can’t belief his personal investigators. And I perceive why, as a result of who is meant to analyze what occurred? The pinnacle of the Nationwide Safety Company is already beneath arrest, so he can’t flip to them. This reveals he’s in bother, and the state of affairs could be very difficult for him.
Even after that is settled, he has to deal with the financial system, which is in a really poor place. Plenty of state capital has been stolen by the inside circle, and a considerable amount of that is within the West, together with america and the UK. One of many duties Tokayev faces is making an attempt to get better these stolen property to make use of them to develop the financial system. He has very, very huge issues. His function proper now could be like that of a disaster supervisor.
What have you ever product of the Western response? It appears loads of the media protection has targeted on the monetary facet – oil, crypto-currency and Bitcoin Miners – reasonably than the human value.
It’s fairly bizarre, the popularity our nation has. For the final nearly ten years, it’s been one scandal after one other involving a household with an enormous corruption scheme, and this has made our popularity very poor, and now it’s even worse as a result of there’s no political stability. There aren’t any ensures investing within the Kazakh financial system; a few days in the past, even Chevron stopped pumping oil due to the unrest. The oil employees all walked out demanding a pay rise, as a result of their wage isn’t adequate. There’s large corruption, and the income isn’t coming again into the financial system and the finances of the Republic. That’s a giant half. That income continues to be within the West. What’s unlucky proper now could be that the authorities in america know a big amount of cash there belongs to the household, which is hiding it in america. They know that and so they have the Magnitsky Act and an anti-kleptocracy act. They’ve government orders, and three weeks in the past Mr Biden introduced his program to battle kleptocracy and overseas corruption, and we consider they’ll step ahead and take motion and freeze these stolen property till a brand new authorities in Kazakhstan is elected in free and truthful elections and requests the return of these property. In any other case, this group will proceed to loot our financial system and nation, and these stolen property shall be utilized by them to problem the federal government once more. Who’s shopping for the weapons which have been used towards the federal government? It’s huge cash over there. Hold the property frozen and protected. Sooner or later, Kazakhstan will come and demand the cash again, however not now, in fact.
We had a really disappointing expertise with a part of the frozen cash in Switzerland which the World Financial institution was making an attempt to make use of for some initiatives in Kazakhstan. 4 years in the past, america Congress organized a listening to and located that precisely half of this capital which had been returned to Kazakhstan had been stolen once more by the daughter of President Nazarbayev, Dariga. Yow will discover it within the congressional information. It’s not rumours or rumour.
Do you place a lot weight on the official figures for these killed and arrested [164 and 5,800 as of January 11th], or do you assume they’re an underestimate?
I can consider that quantity have been arrested, possibly much more, and I’m afraid the variety of individuals killed is way, a lot larger. Movies present that a few of them have been executed, shot within the brow. It wasn’t snipers. When every little thing is settled, they’ll begin to arrest extra individuals and sentence them, however I believe this might be a giant mistake for Tokayev, as a result of he’s not the king, and he’s going to run within the subsequent election, which goes to be an enormous problem for him. He must do one thing actually huge to alter the opinion of nearly all of Kazakh individuals, in any other case it’s going to be very laborious for him to win. I’m certain individuals shall be very lively within the subsequent election. I’m fairly certain they’ll attempt to management the voting system, however then, the subsequent day, individuals will come onto the streets to guard their voice. Something may occur. After which what – can he name for overseas help once more? No. To win the election, he must settle the state of affairs as regards the financial system, the monetary system and the federal government, and by ‘settle,’ I imply reset. It’s about two years till the election, and with the stolen capital, a really poor state of affairs with the financial system, the pandemic, and massive bother within the international financial system, it’s not straightforward to do.
Do you do you assume Nazarbayev regrets stepping down and appointing Tokayev president?
In all probability the very subsequent morning. For Nazarbayev, energy is way larger than household; larger than his youngsters or grandchildren. For him, energy is a drug, as is cash. That’s the drawback.
What do you assume will occur within the subsequent week or two, and who may assist or confront Tokayev?
I believe Tokayev will consider and belief within the new authorities to assist him, and I recommend he begins to talk to civil society and never be boastful. He should attempt to make peace and have an actual dialogue with those that took to the streets to protest peacefully and didn’t resort to violence. These are the Kazakh residents who’ll be going to the polling stations within the subsequent couple of years, and he should work with them. In fact, I fully agree with him that you could not negotiate with terrorists, however you could negotiate together with your residents. On the finish of the day, he’s the president and he should return peace and order to Kazakhstan, not solely through the use of the police and the military. I hope after a few weeks he’ll have the ability to flip his consideration to what to do concerning the financial system. Coping with the financial system isn’t nearly a authorities reshuffle or appointing someone else as prime minister. It’s a giant difficulty. He should attempt to perceive why state property, why the forex reserve of the nationwide financial institution is overseas proper now, why cash belonging to the state is in overseas accounts. He tried to get the cash in overseas accounts again two and a half years in the past, however Nazarbayev didn’t enable him to, and this is likely one of the greatest challenges going through him.
Do you assume Tokayev can have the political will to maintain individuals like Massimov behind bars? Massimov and his ilk have an unlimited amount of cash; do you assume in the event that they’re launched they might make the state of affairs even worse?
It’s fairly potential; I simply need to keep away from this. It’s been in my thoughts and I fully agree; I’m simply making an attempt to ship a optimistic message to the nation. In fact, something can occur, and so they received’t forgive what’s occurred within the final couple of days. With the state of affairs as it’s proper now, if he’s actually in cost, Tokayev should maintain his energy. A few years in the past, a Russian journalist stated to me it appeared just like the regime was very steady, the state was robust, and Nazarbayev was highly effective. I stated to him, no person and nothing has challenged this technique. Now the state of affairs has been challenged, and it’s been proven that the system doesn’t exist. It’s collapsed and gone. I perceive Tokayev is making an attempt to carry on to energy through the use of the neighbours. If the neighbours assist him to settle the state of affairs and withdraw on time, they’re going to win within the eyes of the general public in Western society. They are going to say, hear, we don’t simply do unhealthy issues, generally we do good issues, too. We’ll see what occurs. Energy belongs to Tokayev proper now, but in addition to the Kazakh individuals. The individuals have confirmed they’re not at all times so quiet and peaceable, generally they will explode. Don’t problem the Kazakh individuals.
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