The upcoming elections in Kazakhstan, scheduled for March 20, 2016, is a mere formality. Its authoritarian regime doesn’t need a full-fledged legislative branch of the power. Therefore, the local and republican elections should not be considered seriously. As a matter of fact, some of the deputies in the rubber-stamp legislatures would be reappointed, others would be fired and several new figureheads would find a lovely sinecure. The voting process itself is a travesty of fair and just counting. Electoral fraud in Kazakhstan was vividly described in excellent memoirs The Godfather-in-Law, 2009, by the late Ambassador Rakhat Aliyev – the former son-in-law of the Kazakh president. Among other things, the Ambassador Aliyev mentioned that a printing house Dauir, owned by a presidential nephew Kairat Satybaldy, produces two identical sets of voting papers by request of the Central Election Committee of Kazakhstan. One set is intended for voters, whose ballots, however, are of no importance. Another set is distributed among the regions of the country, where the voting papers are filled in under the supervision of the National Security Committee and presidential bodyguards. Then, these properly completed papers with required votes are sent to the Central Election Committee. Nor stamps neither numbers are put on the papers. You have to be a Sherlock Holmes in order to trace their origin. I can hardly add any fresh data to such thorough analysis. But, today I am going to tell you about certain grotesque moments of this electoral campaign and our internal policy as well.
Bet your bottom dollar: Arthur Kotenyov, a member of the legislative assembly of Almaty City, will be “reelected”. This 36-year-old politico enjoys support of high-ranking officials and big business as well. What is wrong with the guy? The point is that in a Turkic-speaking country, like Kazakhstan, his Russian surname sounds rather bizarre to say the least. It can be literally translated into Kazakh as “of anus” or “of asshole”. To my mind, despotic Kazakh authorities send a clear message to local voters: “You are under my thumb. Like it or not, we can even appoint Asshole as your representative”. Of course, one may reasonably doubt such conclusion. After all, it is just a surname. No more, no less. But, surnames sometimes play an important role in the eyes of superstitious Kazakh rulers. For example, the former Minister of Agriculture Akylbek Kurishbayev has a fitting surname, which can be literally translated as “rich in rice”. The former head of a governmental agency, dealing with religions, Kairat Lama Sharif has a magical surname indeed. It conveniently combines both Buddhist and Muslim terms. The career of the Deputy Attorney General Johann Merkel skyrocketed after his namesake Angela Merkel had been elected the Chancellor of Germany in 2005. Is it coincidence? I don’t think so.
Apart from surnames, first names also influence Kazakh decision-makers, who still profess mumbo-jumbo beliefs. For instance, the Chairman of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan is Lieutenant General Vladimir Zhumakanov, who was born in Russia. The Deputy Interior Minister is Lieutenant General Vladimir Bozhko with distinct Slavic roots. The Energy Minister is a Jew Vladimir Shkolnik, who was born in Russia. You see, these powerful pro-Russian officials are namesakes of Vladimir Putin – President of Russia. Even in the Russian Government itself there are not so many leaders with the first name Vladimir. Apparently, the overzealous Kazakh chieftains have made strenuous efforts to be more Catholic than the Pope. It is not enough to make serious concessions to foreign powers in the field of politics and economy. The cringing chieftains also display their servility in such unorthodox way.