08ASTANA2534, KAZAKHSTAN: NSDP LEADER TUYAKBAY – AN HONORABLE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA2534 2008-12-23 03:56 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO3053
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW
RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHROV
RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #2534/01 3580356
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 230356Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4189
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0960
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0362
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1068
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2108
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2440
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0533
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0436
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 1030

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 002534 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM SOCI KDEM KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  NSDP LEADER TUYAKBAY - AN HONORABLE 
MAVERICK? 
 
REF:  ASTANA 2522 
 
ASTANA 00002534  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
1.  (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2. (SBU) SUMMARY:  During a December 18 meeting with the Ambassador 
in Almaty, the chair of the National Social Democratic Party (NSDP) 
Zharmakhan Tuyakbay argued that Kazakhstan's democratic hopes were 
dashed in mid-1990s when President Nazarbayev suspended the 
parliament and concentrated power in his office.  He averred 
Nazarbayev trusts no one in his inner circle, fostering competition 
among his advisors to make sure no one becomes too powerful.  He 
speculated on several candidates who might succeed Nazarbayev, but 
warned the list can always change.  Tuyakbay wondered if the growing 
economic crisis might conceivably lead to ethnic conflict, 
especially between the "Slavic cities" and the Kazakh countryside. 
On opposition politics, Tuyakbay argued that an open constructive 
dialogue with the ruling elite will go further toward effecting real 
change than radical demands.  Tuyakbay is an impressive and 
seemingly honorable maverick, once part of the Soviet establishment 
who now finds himself in opposition to the government.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
PLURALISM "DASHED" IN MID-1990S 
 
3.  (SBU) Tuyakbay told the Ambassador that Kazakhstan is unique 
among Central Asian states in its closer cultural alignment with 
Western values.  The country's multi-ethnic nature and lack of 
religious extremism presented a positive platform for 
democratization after independence, but that hope was quickly dashed 
in 1995 when President Nazarbayev dissolved the parliament and 
"seized" the executive, legislative, and judicial powers.  No law 
comes into being without the President's approval, which means that 
in reality, all branches of the government report to the President. 
[COMMENT:  While this is true, we should also note the veto power of 
the U.S. presidency.  END COMMENT.]  Such political control is 
unnecessary, in Tuyakbay's opinion, since Kazakhstan is a peaceful 
and politically stable country, rich in natural resources.  The only 
reason "for the President to govern this way," maintained Tuyakbay, 
"is to protect his wealth and personal security" (reftel). 
 
PRESIDENT'S CIRCLE OF DISTRUST 
 
4.  (SBU) Tuyakbay asserted that the President is "more afraid of 
his own people than of the opposition."  He knows the psyche of 
those around him and "trusts no one, not even his children and 
sons-in-law."  Nazarbayev fosters competition within his inner 
circle to make sure no one becomes too powerful.  Tuyakbay would not 
speculate on the reasons behind the December 15 dismissal of 
billionaire oligarch and inner-circle political operative Bulat 
Utemuratov from the post of Chief Manager of Presidential 
Facilities, but wondered whether it had something to do with 
Utemoratov's ties to the opposition:  he was close to the President 
and often tried to mediate between Nazarbayev and the opposition. 
However, Utemuratov will not fall far, maintained the NSDP leader, 
because he "knows too much about the President's personal business." 
 
 
5.  (SBU) Asked who might eventually succeed Nazarbayev, Tuyakbay 
said it was hard to say with certainty but doubted it would be a 
family member.  The current likely candidates, Tuyakbay speculated, 
might be Senate Chairman Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev, Prime Minister Karim 
Masimov, the President's billionaire son-in-law Timur Kulibayev, and 
Astana mayor Imangali Tasmagambetov.  All could assure the 
President's security upon leaving office. 
 
FUTURE PREDICTIONS 
 
6.  (SBU) Tuyakbay laid out several predictions for Kazakhstan's 
political future.  First, the President will hold power until the 
end of his life, although Tuyakbay hinted that there might be some 
"radical" insider elements who could move to unseat him.  Second, 
the growing gap between the rich and poor could lead to a social 
crisis.  Unemployment is increasing, and the situation for 
pensioners and rural residents is growing worse.  The financial 
 
ASTANA 00002534  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
crisis is exacerbating the situation:  unskilled migrant workers who 
come from the villages to the cities can no longer count on 
lucrative construction jobs and are returning to their villages to 
"drink all day."  The economic crisis has disproportionately 
affected ethnic Kazakhs, not because they lack education and skills, 
but
because most live in rural areas, where the economic downturn is 
felt the most.  The main cities tend to have larger Slavic 
populations.  This situation, alleged Tuyakbay, could lead to 
inter-ethnic discord and light the fires of ethnic Kazakh 
nationalism. 
 
7.  (SBU) Tuyakbay commented that "at least with President 
Nazarbeyev in place there is no instability."  He noted Narzarbayev 
was lucky to rule during an oil boom, and at a time when the United 
States was "too preoccupied by Iraq and Afghanistan."  When asked 
what role Russia plays in Kazakhstan's political equations, Tuyakbay 
said, "Kazakhstan is like a mirror - it does whatever Russia is 
doing."  Many of Nazarbayev's political ideas come from Russia, 
alleged the NSDP leader, although simply by affinity, not through 
direct pressure from the Kremlin.  He related Putin's alleged 
comment to Nazarbayev in 2003 that there is "no need for many 
political parties:  one is sufficient." 
 
ANOTHER RUN FOR OFFICE? 
 
8.  (SBU) Asked if he will run in the next election, Tuyakbay 
demurred and said, "We'll see."  He said he had not expected to win 
in 2005, when he ran as the opposition's joint candidate for 
President, but said it was important to run "to set an example and 
show an alternate way to develop the country."  He lamented the high 
levels of corruption and "moral degradation" in Kazakhstan.  Many 
young people, the future generation of Kazakhstan, are "growing up 
in a moral darkness," and this corrupted mentality will be hard to 
fix, he said. 
 
9.  (SBU) In Tuyakbay's view, the people's political awareness is 
growing, albeit slowly.  He said that while on the campaign trail in 
2005, he heard many critical comments against President Nazarbayev, 
both from ethnic Russians and ethnic Kazakhs, with people asking 
questions that had typically never been raised "outside the 
kitchen."   While political awareness is growing, there is still no 
civil society to verbalize the concerns and "take people to the 
streets."  Kazakhstanis are too afraid to express their political 
sentiments, in part because of the passivity of their Soviet past, 
but also because "fear is in their blood" - meaning they fear losing 
their jobs and social positions. 
 
WHAT IS THE OPPOSITION TO DO? 
 
10.  (SBU) There are two possible tactics for the opposition, said 
Tuyakbay.  The first is to criticize harshly the ruling elite and 
push for radical change.  This approach will certainly educate the 
population on the issues; however, in Tuyakbay's opinion, it would 
not be very effective.  In his view, persistent engagement with the 
ruling elite is the better approach - i.e., working for change from 
within.  He stressed the importance of keeping dialogue open and 
proposing concrete measures rather than launching fiery criticisms. 
Most importantly, parliament should be used as a vehicle for change, 
and this change must come from within.  Tuyakbay noted that 
Kazakhstan has a one-party parliament, despite much international 
criticism.  International criticism can only go so far if democratic 
instruments are not in place in the country, asserted Tuyakbay, 
adding that only by limiting the powers of the President can real 
political change take place.  Asked whether parliament would be 
willing to tackle this question, Tuyakbay admitted that currently 
only the President has the authority to limit his own power.  He 
ruminated that perhaps a radical social movement or an uprising 
could lead to some changes, but quickly added that he could never 
support a violent solution for Kazakhstan's current political 
problems. 
 
11.  (SBU) AMBASSADOR'S COMMENT:  Of the "political opposition 
leaders," Tuyakbay is the most impressive:  he seems rather 
Senator-McCain-like - an amalgam of patriot, insider, and maverick. 
 
ASTANA 00002534  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
However, the other "opposition leaders" tend to tar him as a stooge 
because he maintains ties among the ruling elite.  He appears to 
take principled positions that confound both sides.  On December 17, 
at a rally commemorating the 1986 student demonstrations in Almaty 
in which a number of young Kazakhstanis were killed and injured, he 
apologized for having been "on the wrong side of the barricades" - 
he was the Soviet Deputy Prosecutor General at that time.  He called 
for full access to archival documents about that event, which are 
are kept in Moscow.  As Tuyakbay left our meeting, he commented to 
his local escort, "Why did I tell him so much?  I don't even know 
him!"  END COMMENT. 
 
HOAGLAND

Wikileaks

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