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'Do As I Say, Not As I Do'

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev

Change is coming to Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund -- Samruk Kazyna -- and one of the things Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said he wants to see changed is the hiring policy.

Nazarbaev spoke at the Samruk Kazyna transformation forum on October 6 and he told the head of Samruk Kazyna, Umirzak Shukeev, he had better be choosing employees based on their knowledge and experience and not because they are friends or acquaintances.

"We should promote people based on their knowledge, experience and education," Nazarbaev said and added disapprovingly, "It is possible to arrange employment for a person just by making a phone call or knowing someone."

Perhaps the Kazakh president is not the best person to offer anyone advice about nepotism and cronyism.

The chairman of Samruk Kazyna from April to December 2011 was Timur Kulibaev, the husband of Nazarbaev’s second-oldest daughter Dinara.

Prior to that, Kulibaev, an economist by education, had already been a top official at Kazakhstan’s major oil and gas company KazMunaiGaz ; the state nuclear power company Kazatomprom; the national railway company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy; and other key state-owned enterprises.

There was also Nazarbaev’s now former son-in-law Rakhat Aliev.

Aliev studied medicine but rose to become the chief of the tax police, head of the department for battling corruption, deputy head of the National Security Committee, deputy head of the president’s security service, deputy foreign minister, ambassador to Austria and Kazakhstan’s special representative to the OSCE at a time when Kazakhstan was vying to receive the OSCE’s chairmanship, and also had vast holdings in businesses in Kazakhstan.

All that in roughly a 10-year period.

Aliev’s fortunes changed when Nazarbaev’s eldest daughter, Darigha, divorced him in 2007. Facing prison time in Kazakhstan, he has not been back in his home country since before the divorce.

Darigha once owned the state news agency, Khabar, and still is on the board of directors at Nurbank, one of Kazakhstan’s largest banks. She is also a deputy in the Mazhilis, the lower house of parliament, and recently was named head of the Nur-Otan party faction in parliament as well being named deputy speaker in the Mazhilis.

Darigha’s oldest son, Nurali, was named to the board of directors at Nurbank when he was 22 years old. He left that job -- and the $26,000 it paid him monthly -- in 2013 and became the head of Transtelekom, one of the leading telecommunication operators in Kazakhstan.

Transtelekom is owned by the national railway company, which in turn, as we saw above, is under the supervision of…Samruk Kazyna.

Oh well, the motto of the hypocrite is: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

-- Bruce Pannier. Yerzhan Karabek of RFE/RL's Kazakh Service contributed to this report.

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.​

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.


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