17.09.2009

People and politics in Kazakhstan

By Sergey ABAKSHIN

The Sky born crowd not for a ruler; it enthrones a ruler for crowd

Jun-Zi

The thing that people of Kazakhstan is not the subject of politics (only the object), has been often remarked by sociologist Sabit Zusupov (died in 2007). In neighbor Russia, by his words, were the subject of politics even in 90’s and stays in such way until now. By the way, no all of Russian experts were agree with Zusupov, supposing that the nation of Russian Federation is only an object, and politics has inter-elite nature. However, facts are forcing to agree with Sabit Zusupov valuation.

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2009 09 17 NarodichkoKazakhstan and Russia allegedly very similar to each other: both countries are hyper-territorial (lack of population on its territories), and human resources are distributed extremely irregularly. But namely total number of population is appearing as waterfront between Astana and Moskow.

At once we’ll make a reservation: Russia is not China, where such vast quantity of population grades into quality. The main phenomenon is the capital. There are 12 million people officially registered in Moscow. 4 millions of them is pensioners. And pensioners in the capital of RF are using public transport for free, which is different in large majority of the rest places of the country.

The reason of described realities is total number of pensioners in giant metropolis. They are both the electors and flammable material in case of protest actions. In stormy 90’s in the center of Moscow, when almost half-a-million people were united under flags of communists and other left-wing political powers, the older people were the main body. Technically it’s not difficult, taking in account the scale, the quality and carrying capacity of the same Moscow subway, which everyday moving millions of people in different areas of the city.

Moscow is not only the place called so officially. Beyond Moscow Circle Highway there are tenth-floor residences, which are formally administratively submitted to regional authorities, yet actually living with resonance to capital. Plus more than 2 million people of commutation (going to Moscow in the morning and back home in the evening), plus hundreds of thousands of students from other towns; and guest workers, whose problems are too can’t be ignored.

As the result, both Russian Republic and Moscow City powers can’t carry on a policy, based on ignoring of interests and demands of people that are concentrated in such numbers on relatively small territory. In other multi-million cities of Russian Federation people are too easily enough rise to mass protests, if problems are actually concerning wide layouts of citizens. Presence of such pushers is exactly leading to the fact, that Russian nation is the subject of politics.

There is only one city in Kazakhstan that can turn out people to be the subject of politics. It is Almaty. Demography specialists estimate population in this metropolis about 2 million people, plus another million in close situated communities. So, the Almaty agglomeration contains about 20% of the whole population in the republic.

In 90’s the problem of social calm and stability of Power has been solved by the fact, that 80 to 90 per cent of all financial resources of the country turned over in Almaty. The second thing is mass migration. Liberal economical regime allowed citizens to sell privatized flats and went to find better life in Russia, Germany, USA, Israel and other countries. Thus, working places were freed and residential areas for new migrants.

In 00’s, the situation kind of changed, because vast resources were pulled over by Astana. But finally many of what has been initially going to new capital came back with following financial flows. For years of economical growth informal southern capital didn’t create any serious problems for ruling elite. The central Power had enough money on both Almaty and Astana.

Indifferent approach of Almaty citizens to politics, alongside with small number of other communities had been simplified control of Power over the population. Even in the period of income of oil dollars has been carried inter-elite nature. Yet, even such kind of political relations is not releasing from certain issues. The thing is that political life of Kazakhstan is short-cut on manual control of Nursultan Nazarbayev. And when, instead of same rules of a game for everyone, subjective decisions prevailing, appearing of “offended” is fatal.

After outbreak of social economical crisis the question of leaving people as only the object of politics became very sharp. Central Power has enough resources on Astana, and only the problem of cheated construction shareholders stays explosive; the situation in Almaty is way harder.

Logics of keeping political power demands to pay main attention to a capital. However, the specifics of Kazakhstan consists precisely that its capital – is two cities, which are distant from each other by thousand kilometers.

To keep Astana under control is relatively easy because of large number of state employees and presence of significant financial reserves of the state. But for Almaty, where percentage of state employees is less by a mile, and 60% of domestic income is given by small and middle-sized business, other recipes required. And now business association became active, demanding to replace VAT with sales taxation and weaken control depression of corrupted officials. Instead, entrepreneurs are promising to expand lifelines (more working places) in private sector and more tax income to state’s treasury.

There is actually the economics of spending petrodollars built in Kazakhstan. Nowadays, when incomes from crude oil, metals and other minerals fell down, it suffers from system crisis. New instruments and approaches required, which can supply people with work and salary. Only in such case the Power can rely on low political activity level of the people. It’s the question of life and death to present political regime, because it actually can’t and hardly can exist in conditions of political active masses of people. Kyrgyz scenario is fatal, where change of political regime leaded to significant increase of political process participants, and former figurants either leaved the country, or fell on the side of the road.

While being without ingenious instruments, the Power going further with old recipes. For example, road-map, implemented in Almaty, gave 20 thousand new working places. But this is all half-measures, because the same pin-striped masses, which lost their jobs in banks and companies, are far from changing phone and keypad on broom and shovel. Power must switch its dashboard from “remote control of economics” position to “development of economics”. While there is yet time.

4 comments

  1. Abrydla

    Точный замер. Пора «сарынь на кичку»!!!!

  2. Anonymous

    Абакшин один из лучших сетевых авторов в РК

  3. бесспорно!!!!

  4. Да, я с подобным тоже сталкивался :)