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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05ALMATY3284
2005-09-09 14:06:00
CONFIDENTIAL
US Office Almaty
Cable title:  

KAZAKHSTAN: PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION BUYS

Tags:   PGOV  KPAO  KZ  POLITICAL 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L  ALMATY 003284 

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/20/2015
TAGS: PGOV KPAO KZ POLITICAL
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION BUYS
CRITIC'S SILENCE


Classified By: CDA MARK ASQUINO, Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)



1. (C) SUMMARY: Nurbulat Masanov, a well-known human rights
activist and political commentator, will forego his role as
expert analyst at a discussion club to head an institute on
ethnology created for him by the presidential administration.
In accepting the new position, Masanov agreed to refrain
from criticizing the president in the run-up to December's
presidential elections. Masanov predicted that the
administration would likely interfere in the electoral
process, because they need to maintain the administrative
mechanism of fraud for the future, when the competition might
be closer and they would need to fix the results. Silencing
Masanov's analysis and commentary during the campaign period
is a loss both to the opposition, as well as to the public
trying to make informed decisions about whom to support for
president. END SUMMARY.


AN OFFER HE COULDN'T REFUSE


--------------------------





2. (C) Nurbulat Masanov, the deputy general director of the
Polyton Discussion Club and well-known human rights activist,
told emboff September 8 that Marat Tazhin, deputy head of the
Presidential Administration, offered him a paid position to
head an institute on ethnography with 50 staff and
researchers in Almaty. In accepting the offer, Masanov had
to agree to refrain from criticizing the president in the
run-up to December's presidential elections. Masanov will
stay on at Polyton as a moderator of discussions, calling on
participants, but he will no longer offer his
throught-provoking, insightful critiques of both the
opposition and the administration on a broad array of social
and political issues. At their meeting Tazhin asked Masanov
what he would trade for his position as the club's deputy
director. Masanov is an academic by profession, and has
devoted his life to the study of ethnology. He told Tazhin
he had been blacklisted, and was unable to get a teaching
position at any of the universities in Kazakhstan. (Note:
According to "Who's Who In Kazakhstan," he was a professor at
Kazakh State University until 1998.) Tazhin then asked him,
"Well, what if you had your own institute?" It was an offer
Masanov could not refuse. Tazhin must have been confident of
the answer, because the administration has already identified
a building to house the institute.



3. (C) Masanov was pleased with the unexpected development in
his academic career and unapologetic about his decision to
accept the administration's offer. He did, however, want to
explain how he made the decision to embassy representatives,
who attend the Polyton discussions and have supported
Polyton's applications for National Endowment for Democracy

grants. Although Masanov did not say what salary Tazhin
offered, other sources said he took the position to support
his family. His modest salary as the club's deputy director
was covered in the NED grant.


2005 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: FRAUD AS USUAL


--------------------------





4. (C) Masanov said that the presidential elections in
December will be conducted fraudulently as usual, and will
not be open, fair or transparent as Nazarbayev and his team
have promised. He said the administration would still take
measures to fix the results for Nazarbayev, because they
needed to maintain the system of electoral fraud for the
future. Fair elections would set a precedent that
Kazakhstanis would demand in all subsequent contests, and
Nazarbayev was not ready for a true commitment to clean
elections.


AN ETHNOLOGIST'S TAKE ON NAZARBAYEV


--------------------------





5. (C) Masanov's passion is the study of 'kochevniki,' the
nomads of Kazakhstan, and he has written several books and
over 200 scholarly articles on the subject. As an
ethnologist, he analyzes local politics through the prism of
Kazakh nomadic customs and characteristics. Masanov said
Nazarbayev engaged in politics like a canny nomadic horse
trader, and made separate deals with disparate and sometimes
conflicting partners, but always with the aim of securing his
own objective. He cited the maneuvering on the BTC pipeline
as an example. Nazarbayev appeared at the opening in May
with U.S. Secretary of Energy Bodeman and the presidents of
Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. However, Nazarbayev made no
formal commitments at the gathering in deference to Russia,
E


which continues to view the pipeline as a threat to its own
oil pipelines. He said Nazarbayev would eventually sign, but
in his own time.



6. (C) As for how Nazarbayev might view his place in history,
Masanov said Nazarbayev considered himself the founder of the
first state of Kazakhstan. He was determined to secure
Kazakhstan's place on the international stage and in world
history. Masanov said all Nazarbayev's decisions and
actions as president were taken with the goal of making
Kazakhstan a force to be reckoned with among other world
powers: fostering a democratic society is not part of his
vision. Securing the OSCE chairmanship, however, is very
important for Nazarbayev, he said, because the chairmanship
would not only secure Kazakhstan's standing in the
international community, but also would show Kazakhstan's
superiority over all other former Soviet republics and Russia.


OPPOSITION'S LOSS, ADMINISTRATION'S GAIN


--------------------------





7. (C) Some observers say that the opposition should have
recognized Masanov's value and paid him a salary for acting
as Polyton's moderator and analyst. Based on his comments
about the oppostion, Masanov may have made his decision after
being snubbed by "For a Just Kazakhstan" leader Zharmakhan
Tuyakbay. Masanov said he acted in the past as an advisor to
Ak Zhol chairman Alikhan Baimenov. Tuyakbay approached
Masaonov about a similar role in FJK, but then never
developed a working relationship with him.



8. (C) COMMENT: The GOK's apparent "buying-off" of Masanov
will silence an astute analyst who has provided incisive
commentary on political issues and personalities. Losing
Masaonov's perspective as Polyton's moderator during this
crucial campaign period will be a great loss to the
opposition. In addition, it will be a loss to voters seeking
alternate points of view to those provided by the GOK's media
spin-machines in the lead-up to the December presidential
election.



9. (U) Minimize for Dushanbe considered.
ASQUINO


NNNN