Posted 12 января 2021,, 06:14

Published 12 января 2021,, 06:14

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan: elections are over, everyone is free

Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan: elections are over, everyone is free

12 января 2021, 06:14
The rule of clans in the Central Asian republics has become a reality in the post-Soviet space. There is only one difference: while the Nazarbayev clan has been leading Kazakhstan to a bright capitalist future with an iron fist for thirty years, in Kyrgyzstan the rulers change each other.

Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil

The results of the presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan and the parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan have come to the end, their results did not surprise anyone. In Kazakhstan, the ruling party has secured a constitutional majority in the country's parliament. In Kyrgyzstan, Sadyr Japarov wins elections with 80% of the vote. Both in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the expression of the will of citizens was accompanied by accusations of the opposition in mass fraud. When asked how the protest will affect the election results, the experts interviewed by Novaya Izvestia simply answer - not at all.


Coming to power in a revolutionary way in Kyrgyzstan is not new. The novelty is that the new president, Sadyr Japarov, was not only released from prison three months ago by protesters against the rigged elections in October 2020. Leading the protests, he reaffirmed his presidential ambitions in a popular vote last Sunday. When Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown 10 years ago, Russia supported it in every possible way. This time, the transfer of power from Jeenbekov to Zhaparov took place without Russia, says the historian, deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies Alexey Makarkin:

"When the Russian mediator came to Kyrgyzstan, Sooronbai Jeenbekov was president and Sadyr Zhaparov was prime minister. They were seated at the same table. Zhaparov agreed that Jeenbekov would remain in office for a transitional period. As soon as the Russian representative left, Zhaparov insisted on Jeenbekov's resignation. In this regard, Moscow does not feel much sympathy for Japarov".

Новый президент Киргизии Садыр ЖапаровНовый президент Киргизии Садыр Жапаров
Новый президент Киргизии Садыр Жапаров

The political elite of Kyrgyzstan is a constellation of clans from the South and North of the country. The new president is from the north, but with connections in the south of the country. He has ties to the people of Bakiev's team, which heightens the wariness of the Russian authorities. Zhaparov tries and makes symbolic gestures towards the northern neighbor. When one of the nationalists began a discussion about changing the status of the Russian language, Sadyr Zhaparov spoke in favor of keeping Russian as a second state language.

Карта КиргизииКарта Киргизии
Карта Киргизии

However, the camp that came to power in the country is split. They are in a state of "semi-civil war" among themselves, says Andrey Suzdaltsev, political scientist, deputy dean of the Faculty of World Economy and World Politics at the Higher School of Economics . However, the opposing clans are consolidating when it comes to statehood or external support:

"What happened in these elections is an example of the partial consolidation of the ruling circles, clans that have united to preserve the statehood of Kyrgyzstan. Those who were eager for power got it, Japarov entered the CIS elite, he participated in several summits, he is familiar to us, and let's hope that this situation is somehow more or less stable".

The Kyrgyz are so tired of the numerous clans that they decided to believe a man who had never been a minister, was a prime minister for a very short time and came to power from a colony.

Economy and pre-election promises of Japarov

The election slogans of the new president are not new. He promises to defeat corruption and poverty. While he is fighting corruption among his political opponents, Alexey Makarkin believes:

"It's easy and pleasant to do. When you arrest your adversary from the customs service, put him in prison, the people rejoice. But, if the fight against corruption is connected only with the planting of strangers, this is not a fight against corruption, when these places take their own".

Zhaparov has already appointed two of his relatives to jobs - the migration service and the registration of vehicles. Although he swears that if his relatives steal, he will put them in prison, there is little faith in this.

Жизнь в КиргизииЖизнь в Киргизии
Жизнь в Киргизии

The President-elect is warning his people that the next two years will be very difficult. This is due not only to the pandemic and semi-closed borders to Russia, from where there is an inflow of money from guest workers. President Atambayev took a lot of loans from China for popular infrastructure projects, standing on the road with this money. Now it's time to give them away, but there is no money. The most popular idea of the new team is to take money from corrupt officials. But this money is clearly not enough to return billions or even pay interest on them. The citizens will have to shrink.

- China is now perceived by Kyrgyzstan as a country with which threats are associated. Many believe that China can demand a part of the Kyrgyz territories for these loans. This is extremely unlikely, but I do not mean the real situation, but public opinion, - says Alexey Makarkin .

Therefore, friendship with Russia is a policy from which there is nowhere to go. Kyrgyzstan benefits from membership in the Eurasian Union. There are various movements in the country that are anti-Russian in nature. Andrey Suzdaltsev argues that the economy drives the country's elite more than the idea of self-identification:

- For Japarov there is a traditional informal consensus and understanding that it is Russia that provides enormous support to survival. A huge part of the budget and GDP is provided by the import of money earned by Kyrgyz guest workers in Russia. There are Kyrgyz nationalists there who are anti-Russian, part of the intelligentsia is anti-Russian, but it would be silly to say that they influence the political course of Kyrgyzstan, because there is no one else for Kyrgyzstan to rely on.

How long did Japarov come

The president-elect is backed by popular protest. Japarov was opposed to investors not taking into account local interests. He was a well-known opponent of corruption, albeit in other clans. True, popular support is transient, so Japarov is in a hurry to consolidate his power.

The presidential-parliamentary republic in Kyrgyzstan was established for the sake of inter-clan compromises. Now, on the initiative of Japarov, it is being rebuilt into a presidential one. 80% of voters voted for this. The new head of state is in a hurry, and by June of this year promises to submit to a referendum a new Constitution at the peak of its popularity. Whether the presidential republic will be able to protect him is a big question.

Andrey Suzdaltsev believes that this president will not be able to serve a full term:

"They became frequent. The change of leaders reflects the low level of consciousness of the ruling class. They put the president in jail, and then they don't want to do anything at all. And what to do, there are almost no resources there, the economy is hard. Stability is needed for the country to somehow survive. It is economically difficult, given that clans rule, drug trafficking passes through Kyrgyzstan, it is difficult to fight this. Therefore, they became frequent. But so far the wave is for Japarov".

Aleksey Makarkin recalls that only one President of Kyrgyzstan, Atambayev, resigned within the constitutional terms and handed over power to his successor, although he was imprisoned shortly after the transfer of power. All the rest - Akayev, Bakiyev and Jeenbekov - were overthrown. It is not known whether Sadyr Japarov will be able to stay in power for a whole period. He not only needs to fight enemies, but also negotiate with the clans. He does not have his own team with burning eyes, there are only relatives of his clan. Some historians have already found an ancestor from the local nobility of the 18th century in Japarov's pedigree. It doesn't look like a desire for modernization. Rather, there is a desire to collect power in their own hands.

The Golden Horde and its territories

Another elections were held in Central Asia - parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan. There are no surprises here - more than 70% of the seats in the new parliament will go to the Nur Otan party. This, of course, is less than five years ago, when the party in power received 82%, but more than 2/3 in the firm hands of the ruling clan. Unlike Kyrgyzstan, he is the only one in Kazakhstan - Nursultan Nazarbayev. The People's Party, controlled by the security forces, and the Bright Path were elected to parliament as junior partners. The opposition Social Democratic Party boycotted the elections.

Партия Нур Отан победила на выборахПартия Нур Отан победила на выборах
Партия Нур Отан победила на выборах

Andrey Suzdaltsev calls Kazakhstan a harshly authoritarian regime:

"The Kazakhstani elite was built according to the version of the Golden Horde. This is a very tough approach to the authorities, so all lists of deputies and elections are very tightly controlled".

Nursultan Nazarbayev retains the main levers of power under his successor. According to experts, there are problems with the eldest daughter of Nazarbayev Dariga, she does not fit very well into the existing power structure, but this is secondary. Alexey Makarkin says:

"The structure works, control is maintained, the election results are predictable. The opposition is dissatisfied, but it cannot change anything, because the entire state machine is consolidated".

Аресты оппозицииАресты оппозиции
Аресты оппозиции

However, the Kazakh opposition bears little resemblance to the Russian non-systemic or tamed Duma. It exists, including in the ruling circles.

"Therefore, it is very annoying when you watch the triumphant news that all the people went and voted perfectly, you perfectly understand that very serious negative processes are going on in the depths of Kazakhstani society, which are very disturbing to the nearest countries and neighbors", - Andrey Suzdaltsev notes.

Kazakhstan and Russia

There is tension now between Russia and Kazakhstan. Before the New Year, United Russia members Nikonov and Fedorov told Russian TV viewers that Kazakhstan did not exist before, and northern Kazakhstan was not inhabited at all.

However, Russia is not squeezing, and the signals are coming from the deputies, not government officials. Although the irritated President Tokayev ordered a note to be handed over to an employee of the Russian embassy, their "United Russia" member, Nur Otan, a member of the ruling party, who threatened to deploy NATO bases in Kazakhstan, became responsible for him.

Карта КазахстанаКарта Казахстана
Карта Казахстана
Статья А.И.СолженицынаСтатья А.И.Солженицына
Статья А.И.Солженицына

Nursultan Nazarbayev also read Sozhenitsyn's article that northern Kazakhstan should be in Russia's sphere of influence, which is why he moved the capital to the north of the country. The Cossack movement was brutally suppressed back in the 90s, so there is no basis for a pro-Russian movement in Kazakhstan.

Столица Казахстана НурсултанСтолица Казахстана Нурсултан
Столица Казахстана Нурсултан

“In Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev, with all his reputation as a supporter of integration in the post-Soviet space, one of the founders of the Eurasian Union, took a very tough stance in relation to any pro-Russian manifestations, to any threat of separatism”, - recalls Aleksey Makarkin.

That is why Donbass will not work in Kazakhstan. In addition, there is a pragmatic interest, membership in the Eurasian Union, which is beneficial for Kazakhstan. The Golden Horde will trade with its northern neighbor and vigilantly guard its borders.