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Central Asia news

Nursultan Nazarbayev is putting together a team of senior state officials to leave the country to

15.01.2007 12:56 msk

Kommersant

Politics Kazakhstan

Attention of all of Kazakhstan was glued to the unprecedented staff shuffles in the upper echelons of state power last week. Nursultan Nazarbayev had key ministers change places and replaced leadership of the upper house of the parliament. Nurtai Abykayev, a political heavyweight, stepped down as chairman of the upper house of the parliament. In fact, Abykayev had found himself in trouble last year, in the wake of opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbayev's assassination. One of Abykayev's proteges, Yerjan Utembayev of the senatorial apparat, had been accused of organization of the murder, and Abykayev paid for it now. He was exiled to Moscow as ambassador of Kazakhstan. Ex-Foreign Minister Kasymjomart Tokayev became chairman of the upper house of the parliament leaving his own post to Marat Tajin, Nazarbayev's senior political technologist. Tajin came to the Foreign Ministry from the Security Council where he had worked since 2005 when Tajin, a deputy director of the presidential administration, he ensured Nazarbayev's triumph in election with 90% votes in his favor.

Kazakh observers suggest various hypotheses explaining the president's activeness in personnel matters. They point out that not a single senior official was actually ousted from the presidential team even though some of them were demoted. "Judge for yourselves. Ahmetov is the new Defense Minister and that is not bad at all. Once he has sorted things out in the military sphere, he will be ready to assume national leadership. He will have been tested from all angles," to quote Nikolai Kuzmin, Director of the Center of Political Studies "Perspective". The political scientist is convinced that the same applies to Tajin. "He has been handling domestic affairs, domestic policy these last 15 years in the capacity of a political technologist. He will be handling foreign affairs now. That makes him another candidate. Ditto Tokayev, by the way. Once the prime minister, once a diplomat, he will have to learn legislative matters now."

According to Kuzmin, Nazarbayev is doing it deliberately in order to make his closest associates universal administrators. "That's how he is putting together a team of senior officials to leave the country to one fine day," Kuzmin said.

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Alexander Sidorov (Alma-Ata), Vladimir Soloviov

Kommersant, January 15, 2007, p. 9

© Translated by Ferghana.Ru