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Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Safety Cushions

Here we describe the most important posts that the ex-president of Kazakhstan continues to hold and what authorities they give.


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By Khadisha Akaeva and Andrei Grishin

During the oath taking ceremony of interim president Tokayev, Nazarbayev was awarded the title of ‘Khalyk kakharmany’ and special insignia “Gold Star”. Photo: akorda.kz
Since March 20, Nursultan Nazarbayev is no longer the president of Kazakhstan. Now Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev holds this post until the election of the new head of state in 2020. Nevertheless, Nazarbayev is in fact ruling the country through a range of other mechanisms.

  1. First president – Yelbassy
  2. Chair of the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  3. Head of Samruk-Kazyna fund
  4. Chair of the Nur Otan party
  5. Member of the Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Law ‘On the First President of Republic of Kazakhstan –Yelbassy’

This law provides Nazarbayev with a package of guarantees and rights, including: absolute immunity for deeds done during his presidency and afterwards; immunity of all available assets and his family members; state protection, residential and non-residential premises for his activities; use of almost all state services (communication, transportation, healthcare, medical treatment, etc.). For more details, please follow the link.

Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan

The Security Council has long existed in Kazakhstan; however, the law ‘On the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan” was adopted only in 2018. Until 2018, the Security Council was a constitutional advisory body, and now it has become the constitutional body. The law was then amended to enlarge the powers of the Council and to secure life-long chairmanship of the first president.

The Security Council coordinates both foreign and domestic policy of Kazakhstan regarding national security. Decisions made by the Security Council (its chair, to be more exact) are mandatory for implementation by the incumbent president, who can be only an ordinary member of this agency for as long as the Yelbassy lives. Moreover, the Security Council discusses candidatures proposed for the posts of chief executives of the General Prosecutor Office, National Security Committee, ministries of foreign affairs, defence, interior affairs, justice, Foreign Intelligence Service Syrbar, financial monitoring committee of the ministry of finance.  Moreover, the members of the Security Council shall be appointed by the president as agreed with the chair of the Security Council.

It’s noteworthy that Kalmukhanbet Kassymov, ex-minister of interior affairs, has got an appointment, which sounds as “Assistant to the President – Secretary of the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan.”

Samruk Kazyna Fund

It’s a large Kazakhstan-based business structure, whose only shareholder is the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The fund invests into numerous strategically important entities; it has portfolios in Air Astana, Kazatomprom, KazMunaiGaz, Kazpochta, Kazakhtelecom, and other companies.

According to the law ‘On Samruk Kazyna national welfare fund’s management board’ dated 2010, the Board is headed by Nursultan Nazarbayev. This fund is the most significant component of the economy of Kazakhstan. Thus, by results of2018, a share of Samruk Kazyna Fund and a group of portfolio companies in the Kazakh economy was 4 trillion tenges (10.5 billion dollars), which is nearly 7 per cent. The share of the fund in the economy boggles the mind to the point that the largest business structures amount to 2-3 per cent in the national economy, and this share can be as high as 7 per cent only in oil monarchies.

Nur Otan party

The status of the chair of the Nur Otan party is the permanent status of the resigned president Nazarbayev. The party is dominant in the parliament of Kazakhstan and enforces the interests of its chair, as well.

Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan

A membership in this body means that the ‘Leader of the Nation’ is fully legitimate to take part in the approval of laws, control the elections of president, parliament members, and hold republican referendums.

These posts, but the post in Samruk Kazyna Fund, are set in law ‘On the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Yelbassy’, which means that other presidents will remain nominal figures as long as Nazarbayev lives.

“The initiatives developed regarding the key directions of domestic and foreign policy of the state shall be coordinated with the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Yelbasy,” according to paragraph 1 of the law.

It should be noted that Nazarbayev, his family and inner circle currently have either direct or indirect ownership of the companies, which affect the entire economy of Kazakhstan, so these four posts are not the last in this political situation.

To eliminate any slightest surprise at the next presidential election, amendments were made to the law ‘On elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan’ on June 15, 2017. The new amendment was the requirement for a presidential candidate to have at least five years of experience in civil service.

Nursultan Nazarbayev has done everything to retire securely yet staying the key political figure, who may, as before, decide the fate of Kazakhstan at his sole discretion.


This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.

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