09ASTANA447, KAZAKHSTAN: AK ZHOL LEADER BAIMENOV SAYS PARTY

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09ASTANA447.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA447 2009-03-13 09:48 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO9987
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #0447/01 0720948
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 130948Z MAR 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4897
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1359
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0738
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0055
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0063
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2163
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0447
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0020
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0545
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0425
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1441
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0834
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0921
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000447 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL, INR 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR EFIN KDEM KPAO KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN:  AK ZHOL LEADER BAIMENOV SAYS PARTY 
GOT INFUSION OF FUNDING, CRITICIZES BAIL-OUT PACKAGE 
 
REF: A. STATE 19716 
     B. ASTANA 0250 
     C. ASTANA 0204 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, 1.4 (b)/(d) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  On March 5, Alikhan Baimenov, the leader of 
opposition Ak Zhol party, alleged to us that until recently 
his party was the target of an "information blockade" by both 
pro-government and opposition media.  The recent easing of 
this blockade allowed Ak Zhol to re-emerge on the public 
radar.  Baimenov maintained that his party is a threat to the 
ruling elite because its electorate overlaps with the 
electorate of the ruling Nur Otan party.  Ak Zhol got an 
infusion of funding, he claimed, from formerly pro-government 
businessmen.  Baimenov railed against the government's 
program to combat the economic crisis, alleging that the 
bail-out package will benefit a select few well-placed 
businessmen close to President Nazarbayev.  Baimenov believes 
that personal interests were behind the recent government 
take-over of BTA bank.  He was doubtful that the government 
will call early elections in such tough economic times, and 
he chose not to speculate extensively on which party would 
become the second party in parliament should the elections be 
held.  Baimenov encouraged the United States to support the 
development of a Russian-language media sources to counter 
Russia's influence in the Kazakhstani media market.  He 
offered his insights regarding the influence of senior 
figures in the Presidential Administration.  END SUMMARY. 
 
AK ZHOL'S SUDDEN PUBLIC ACTIVITY 
 
2.  (C) On March 5, we met with the leader of the Ak Zhol 
party, Alikhan Baimenov.  Baimenov, whose party is viewed by 
the other opposition parties as the government's pocket 
opposition, recently made several comments 
uncharacteristically critical of the government, particularly 
over its handling of the economic crisis. He also announced 
his party's intention to hold protest rallies in the spring 
unless the government reconsiders its anti-crisis program and 
initiates further amendments to the laws on political 
parties, elections, and the media.  Baimenov claimed that his 
party's sudden activity should not be viewed as something out 
of the ordinary -- rather, Ak Zhol simply had to take some 
time to regroup after the last parliamentary elections.  He 
claimed that his party was also the target of an "information 
blockade" from both the pro-government media and the press 
outlets associated with other opposition parties, notably the 
newspaper "Svoboda Slova," which is closely linked with the 
opposition party Azat.  Baimenov believes that this 
"blockade" has eased somewhat, allowing Ak Zhol to re-emerge 
on the public's radar. 
 
"WE PLAY ON THE PRESIDENT'S FIELD" 
 
3.  (C) Baimenov confided that Ak Zhol recently gained some 
"members with funds," people he described as formerly 
pro-government businessmen who "overcame their fears" to join 
the opposition.  Ak Zhol is a threat to the ruling elite 
because its electorate overlaps with the electorate of the 
ruling Nur Otan party, he claimed.  While the opposition Azat 
party, National Social Democratic Party (OSDP), and Communist 
Party fight for the same group of opposition-oriented 
followers, "we play on the President's field," he asserted. 
The majority of Kazakhstanis "don't think about politics," so 
Ak Zhol's strategy is to reach the population on "softer 
issues," like culture, the Kazakh language, and nationality. 
Asked to describe his party's platform, Baimenov said Ak 
Zhol's goal is to "truly realize the government's Path to 
Europe program."  (NOTE:  The Path to Europe is President 
Nazarbayev's program to establish closer ties with Europe, 
including through greater economic cooperation and 
 
ASTANA 00000447  002 OF 003 
 
 
harmonizing Kazakhstani laws with European legislation.  END 
NOTE.) 
 
SHARP CRITICISM OF THE ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM 
 
4.  (C) Baimenov did not mince words in criticizing the 
government's program to combat the economic crisis, alleging 
that only a select few well-placed business tycoons will see 
its benefits.  In his view, government funds to assist 
KazakhMys, a copper giant, and the Eurasia Natural Resources 
Corporation (ENRC) will "flow straight into the pockets" of 
their respective major
 shareholders, the pro-Nazarbayev 
oligarchs Vladimir Kim and Aleksandr Mashkevich.  He believes 
the funds will go abroad to finance Kim's and Mashkevich's 
overseas investment projects rather than be reinvested in 
Kazakhstan.  Baimenov railed against the lack of transparency 
and oversight over the government's bail-out package. 
"Extractive industries should have a responsibility to 
reinvest at home," he argued.  In Baimenov's view, the state 
should be investing in infrastructure rather than "dabbling 
in state capitalism." 
 
BTA TAKE-OVER: A CLASH OF PERSONALITIES? 
 
5.  (C) Asked for his thoughts on the government's recent 
take-over of BTA bank (ref C), Baimenov turned reflective for 
a moment and said that "the government can't afford to loose 
people like Ablyazov," BTA's ousted chairman who is 
apparently in self-imposed exile in London.  He believes that 
the take-over was primarily driven by a conflict of 
personalities: "The government could have negotiated, but 
personal feelings got in the way."  (NOTE: Independent 
political analyst Dosym Satpayev told the Ambassador recently 
that while BTA's financial vulnerability was the major reason 
for the government's take-over, the personal dislike between 
Ablyazov and Prime Minister Masimov certainly played a role 
(ref B).  END NOTE.) 
 
EARLY ELECTIONS UNLIKELY 
 
6.  (C) Baimenov does not believe the government will call 
early elections during such tough economic times.  He 
qualified, however, that "everything depends on the 
Presidential Administration" -- "They may do it just to show 
that no other party can pass the seven percent threshold (for 
representation in parliament)."  He ventured that the 
government would "risk" elections only after the bail-out 
program reached small and medium enterprises, the mainstay of 
the middle class.  The economic slowdown is a natural benefit 
for the opposition, but few of the opposition parties have 
fully harnessed its potential, argued Baimenov.  In his 
assessment, only the unregistered party Alga has the 
potential to mobilize broad swaths of the population. 
 
AND THE RUNNER-UP IS... 
 
7.  (C) We asked Baimenov if there is any truth to the 
speculations that Ak Zhol will be the second party in the 
Mazhilis (the lower house of parliament) after the next 
elections.  (NOTE:  The recently-passed amendments to the 
election law stipulates that any party that gets the 
second-highest number of votes automatically gets into the 
parliament, even if it does not pass the seven percent 
threshold.  Many in opposition circles believe that 
Baimenov's Ak Zhol has been "picked" by the government to be 
the second party.  END NOTE.)  Baimenov demurred from 
answering directly, saying that Ak Zhol, Azat, and OSDP all 
have the potential to actually exceed the seven percent 
barrier.  Instead, he floated his own candidate for the 
"runner-up" -- the pro-government Adilet (Justice) party. 
Baimenov alleged that Adilet has been copying many of Ak 
Zhol's statements and policies.  "It's like they are our 
 
ASTANA 00000447  003 OF 003 
 
 
proxy," joked Baimenov, "except they get air time, and we do 
not." 
 
NEED FOR ALTERNATIVE RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE MEDIA 
 
8.  (SBU) Baimenov said that that the United States should 
seriously consider doing more to support the development of 
an alternative Russian-language media in Kazakhstan -- i.e., 
an alternative to television from Russia, which continues to 
be the dominant source of news for most Kazakshtanis.  He 
used the example of recent events in Georgia, Ukraine, and 
the Baltics.  The population was fed Russia's perspective, 
highlighting "examples of what is wrong with democracy." 
Baimenov suggested that providing technical help to domestic 
Kazakhstahni news outlets that present alternative points of 
view or encouraging Western news outlets to enter into 
partnership with local ones could be some of the ways we 
could level the media playing field. 
 
MUSIN HAS THE PRESIDENT'S EAR 
 
9.  (C) In accordance with ref A, we asked for Baimenov's 
assessment of the influence of senior figures in the 
Presidential Administration.  Baimenov believes the 
Presidential Administration head Aslan Musin "to be very 
important in decision-making."  "Musin is from the old 
guard," and there is a generational affinity between him and 
Nazarbayev, unlike the case with his much younger 
predecessor, Kairat Kelimbetov (who now heads the 
Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund).  Baimenov sees Musin as 
even "tougher" than Adylbek Zhaksybekov (who preceded 
Kelimbetov and is now ambassador to Russia).   Baimenov also 
believes that State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev is highly 
influential.  He is viewed as having done an excellent job as 
ambassador to the United States and is close to Nazarbayev. 
HOAGLAND

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: