Last week Chinese owned Alibaba.com ran a story about Kazakhstan’s government shifting some positions in the nuclear industry of the country. Namely,that Vladimir Shkolnik, former Industry and Trade Minister, would be moving into the position as head of Kazatomprom, following confirmation by Nazarbaev. The story includes this interesting sentence:
It was unclear if Kazatomprom’s veteran boss Mukhtar Dzhakishev will get a new job in the public sector.
Indeed! What will happen to the old boss? Well, today Dzhakishev probably would love to move into the public sector, or private sector, or any sector other than prison. It’s been a rough week – first the man was sacked, and then he was arrested. (More after the jump)
On Monday, the KNB [Kazakhstan's replacement KGB] announced the arrest of Mukhtar Dzakishev, and Reuters and Alibaba have the report. The global economic crisis might be a factor, but RFE/RL suggests that it is largely politically motivated. I believe it’s a mixture of the two, as the economic crisis is pushing the political machine in directions it might have avoided up to this point. Kazakhstan’s uranium industry is growing to the point where it could become the world’s top producer. This is no small feat, considering how rarely petroleum economies successfully diversify. However, the success and growth of the uranium industry has not protected Dzakishev, who is charged with massive theft. This is being claimed as part of Nazarbaev’s general war on corruption – which if enacted categorically and in all honesty, would probably place every single industry leader, upper-level politician, and most of the extended First Family in prison. In other words, I have no doubts that Dzakishev stole what he could, but it’s arbitrary to sack the man now, and even more so to replace him with another government official.
It reminds me of the shifting of positions of area hokims in Uzbekistan, when Karimov was still consolidating power. Turn over was high and consistent, so each hokim stole as much as they could in their several year tenure, and then were moved around the country, simultaneously destroying the power base of Karimov’s underlings and bankrupting the country that used to be the most powerful in Central Asia.
Analysts say recent developments highlight tensions in the political circle around President Nursultan Nazarbayev, 68, who has run the country since 1989 but has no clear successor.
But the next sentence is more enigmatic to me:
Unlike some other leaders of post-Soviet state, he has not publicly picked a possible heir to his rule, heightening intrigue among potential candidates and keeping foreign investors guessing about the continuity of his policies.
Which of the post-Soviet states have picked possible heirs? I assume we’re talking about places other than Central Asia. Perhaps the reporters [Raushan Nurshayeva and Maria Golovnina] are winking at Googoosha in Uzbekistan.