07ASTANA1848, KAZAKHSTAN: GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION VIEWS ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA1848 2007-07-09 00:09 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO6149
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHTA #1848/01 1900009
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 090009Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC//SCA COLLECTIVE/ PRIORITY 0007
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY 0219
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2224
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 1777

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 001848 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR SCA/CEN (M. O'MARA) 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/06/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION VIEWS ON 
UPCOMING PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS 
 
Classified By: CDA Kevin Milas, reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  While some in the government seek to dampen 
expectations about the opposition's performance in upcoming 
parliamentary elections, the opposition itself is uniting and 
preparing to run an active campaign highlighting social 
justice issues and the presidential Nur Otan party's Achilles 
heel of corruption.  Presidential Administration head Adilbek 
Dzhaksybekov assured the Ambassador that the authorities will 
ensure fair Mazhilis elections on August 18, but predicted 
that the opposition's decision to unite under the Social 
Democratic name will cost it votes.  Opposition leaders 
Zharmakhan Tuyakbay and Bulat Abilov claim that the united 
opposition faces an uphill battle against "fake" opposition 
parties and a presidential party benefiting from massive 
private sector subsidies, administrative resources, and 
biased electoral commissions.  End summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Government: Opposition Will Fail in Fair Elections 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
2. (C) The Kazakhstani government is doing everything it can 
to ensure that the August 18 elections for the Mazhilis 
(lower house of parliament) will be open to equal competition 
by all parties, Presidential Administration head Adilbek 
Dzhaksybekov told the Ambassador on June 28.  Dzhaksybekov, 
whose awkward body language revealed his discomfort 
discussing the election issue, claimed that "everyone" was 
seeking administrative resources from the government but "not 
even (presidential party) Nur Otan" will receive assistance. 
 
3. (C) Dzhaksybekov stated that the government recognized the 
long-term benefit of having the opposition represented in 
parliament.  He said that he is nonetheless skeptical that 
the newly enlarged Social Democratic party, which has 
absorbed True Ak Zhol, will be able to cross the 7% threshold 
for inclusion.  Dzhaksybekov characterized it as a mistake 
for the opposition to abandon the well-known True Ak Zhol 
"brand."  All parties, even Nur Otan, will face difficulty 
getting out the vote during the hot vacation season in 
August, he said. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
Opposition: Results Will Be Determined by Astana 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
4. (SBU) During a June 29 meeting with the Ambassador, 
opposition leaders Zharmakhan Tuyakbay and Bulat Abilov 
confirmed the decision to merge the Social Democratic and 
True Ak Zhol parties at a July 7 party congress.  The new 
party's campaign platform will focus on themes that will 
resonate with the general public such as education, health 
care, natural resources, corruption, criminality, and drugs, 
said Tuyakbay.  (In a separate conversation with the DCM, 
opposition activist Petr Svoik said that two main campaign 
slogans would be "Hands Off Our Right-Drive Cars" and "the 
National Fund Should be the People's Fund," a reference to 
spending more of the country's oil wealth on pressing social 
needs.)  Tuyakbay told the Ambassador that negotiations were 
underway to include Alga and the Communist Party.  (Note: 
Subsequent press reports indicate that both groups decided 
not to join, and the Communists have called on their voters 
to boycott the Mazhilis elections.  End note.) 
 
5. (C) Abilov alleged that rival Alikhan Baymenov's Ak Zhol 
party was already receiving administrative resources from the 
government and being allowed to advertise widely.  The 
government will try to portray Ak Zhol as a true opposition 
party and will manipulate the voting so that it comes in 
second after Nur Otan, he claimed.  In contrast, Abilov said, 
the Social Democrats had thus far not been able to air a 
single television ad.  While he expected the television 
channels to agree to air their ads during the formal campaign 
period, Abilov predicted problems distributing printed 
material around the country, which they would seek to avoid 
by printing as much as possible locally. 
 
6. (SBU) Abilov also complained that the opposition had been 
included in only 1,000 of the 10,000 local electoral 
commissions around the country.  The bulk of their 
representatives were in rural areas where they expected few 
votes. At the same time, several very small pro-presidential 
parties such as Rukhaniyat and the Patriots' Party were 
represented on almost all electoral commissions.  (Details of 
the commission formation process to be reported septel.) 
 
7. (C) Abilov predicted that the Social Democrats would 
 
ASTANA 00001848  002 OF 003 
 
 
receive 30% of the vote.  If the campaign, voting, or 
tabulation were rigged, the party might pull out of the 
voting or refuse to take any seats it won, he added.  Voters 
distinguish between President Nazarbayev the person, still 
respected as the creator of an independent, stable &#x
000A;Kazakhstan, and Nur Otan, which is seen as the party of 
corrupt bureaucrats, Abilov said.  Tuyakbay commented that 
Almaty mayor Imangali Tasmagambetov had become one of the 
richest people in the country thanks to billions of dollars 
worth of land sales during his tenure.  Abilov named 
Nazarbayev confidante Bulat Utemuratov as another example of 
high-level corruption, "a billionaire who has never had a 
business."  The opposition will use the scandal surrounding 
presidential son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev to show that Nazarbayev 
has failed to rein in his family, Tuyakbay said. 
 
8. (C) Tuyakbay alleged that Nur Otan has received massive 
donations from the country's main businesses, including $50 
million each from KazMunayGas and Kaz Temir Zholiy (the 
national railroad); $50 million from metals magnate Aleksandr 
Mashkevich; $50 million from KazakhMys; and $50 million total 
from the five main banks.  "The Social Democrats have 
resources," he said, "but nothing like Nur Otan's $300 
million warchest."  Tuyakbay also claimed that oblast akims 
(regional leaders) have been ordered to deliver 80% of the 
vote to Nur Otan; the akims have in turn set an 85% target 
for the local leaders underneath them in order to "outdo the 
next guy."  He predicted that the final totals would be 
determined in Astana, and that Ak Zhol and the Social 
Democrats would each likely receive the minimum 7%. 
 
9. (SBU) Alga leader Asylbek Kozhakhmetov told the DCM on 
July 2 that he believed the end result would depend on 
President Nazarbayev's will, but it was realistic to expect 
the united opposition forces to cross the 7% threshold and 
receive 10-15 seats in the Mazhilis. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
Zhakiyanov Sees Shortcomings on Both Sides 
------------------------------------------ 
 
10, (C) In a separate meeting with the Ambassador on June 29, 
former opposition leader Galymzhan Zhakiyanov said that the 
recent constitutional reforms and new elections were 
Nazarbayev's way of protecting himself.  Nazarbayev is "not 
eager to leave office," Zhakiyanov said, but is making 
preparations to retain control by appointing more members of 
parliament, becoming party leader, and securing the loyalty 
of the Assembly of Peoples.  Zhakiyanov predicted that when 
Nazarbayev left office he would become a senator for life and 
take a seat on the Constitutional Council. The recent changes 
were not an effort to win the chairmanship of the 
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, 
Zhakiyanov asserted.  Nazarbayev is "sick of the issue," 
which is "now much more important for Vladimir Putin than for 
Nazarbayev himself," he explained. 
 
11. (C) Zhakiyanov said that at one point Tuyakbay had the 
chance to be the "constructive opposition" included in the 
Mazhilis, but the decision to merge with True Ak Zhol would 
irritate Nazarbayev because of the group's tendency to make 
radical statements.  The Social Democrats will therefore 
probably receive 6.5% of the vote, Zhakiyanov predicted; Ak 
Zhol and perhaps the splinter People's Communist Party would 
be included in the lower house.  The authorities will say 
that the Social Democrats failed to cross the threshold due 
to the perceived "closure" of True Ak Zhol and the 
Communists' refusal to participate.  He saw the decision not 
to preserve the True Ak Zhol name as a mistake. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
12. (C) Given the Kazakhstani government's continued drive to 
chair the OSCE in 2009 (which, despite Zhakiyanov's 
assertions, has not flagged), we expect the authorities to do 
everything possible to give the appearance of a clean and 
fair election.  Nevertheless, the opposition's predictions of 
abuse of administrative resources and vote manipulation are 
not baseless; whatever the exhortations from Astana, the 
fundamental conditions which contributed to flawed elections 
in the past -- primarily the fact that regional leaders are 
appointed by and loyal only to President Nazarbayev -- have 
not changed.  The fact that the opposition maintains a 
relatively optimistic outlook in the face of such odds lends 
support to the rumor that negotiations with Astana have 
resulted in a mutual understanding regarding the election 
 
ASTANA 00001848  003 OF 003 
 
 
results. 
MILAS

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