The clever man Masimov or a figure of compromise in the goverment
“Exclusive” continues its “Internet-portrait” rubric. Here we present the extracts from the variety of characteristics given to Kazakhstan’s Establishment on the Internet. As before, the journal maintains its neutrality, describing the selected person’s images already existing in the Internet. This article is special. We counted the number of times the word “nationality” appeared here. The content-analysis revealed a sad fact. Unfortunately, the question of nationality is important in our country today. It interests people visiting chat rooms and blogs, especially the young, more than the actions of the person discussed.
Many users of the Web are interested in the only official in Kazakhstan who has his own website. They give the new head of the Cabinet of Ministers nicknames, discuss his nationality and bet on his intelligence and ambitions. Maybe if Karim Masimov were a Native American and lived in the boundless prairies, he would gain the sobriquet of Many-sided or Mysterious. This analogy emerged spontaneously because of the diversity of his descriptions online. There the authors are generous with their nicknames, calling the new Prime Minister of the country Chinaphile, a batman, and fortune’s favorite.
However, the addressee of these epithets lives not in America, but in Kazakhstan, and his nationality is discussed very much here. It interests many people, even the recognized analysts like Arkadiy Dubnov, who mentions the “fifth column” of the Prime Minister’s passport in the online version of “Vremya Novostey” in the following way: “Actually, Karim Masimov’s nationality is not Kazakh but Uigur; and his fluency in Chinese, Russian and English doesn’t compensate for the absence of the Kazakh language in the list…” The fact that this is also discussed by bloggers goes without saying.
An example that illustrates the opinion of many active members of internet forums is demonstrated by the portal of “Live Journal”, which has lively discussions going on its pages: “I don’t agree with Masimov! Not him!!! Not Masimov!!! Let it be anybody, Kazakh, Russian, Tatar, German, etc., but not Uigur!” wrote one of the users when the candidacy of the current Prime Minister was discussed. And another user replied with the following forecast: “The party “Nur Otan” will not let him become the Prime Minister; there is a limitation on how high a non-Kazakh may rise in the government, which is the position of Vice-Prime Minister or Vice-Speaker of Parliament… Even if the President pulls Masimov up, not many officials will obey him, and sabotage will follow.”
The website of “Moskovsky Komsomolets” contains the following: “Karim Masimov is a person with an exotic biography. According to the official biography, he started his career in the trade representative’s office of the USSR in China. However, Kazakhtan’s political circle members think that Kasimov actually worked for Soviet intelligence. Since then the new Prime Minister has had a passion for Eastern things. He mastered several types of martial arts and is a connoisseur of Chinese and Japanese poetry. These interests of Masimov are not widely supported in Astana. Many people mention the excessively pro-Chinese opinion of the Prime Minister.”
In the online version of the “Vremya” publication, the author Viktor Verka writes: “You wouldn’t call Masimov a strong business oriented leader or an egg-headed theoretical reformer. He is like Gogol’s hero “not fat but not slim, not tall but not too short”. He is not connected to a big scandal, but he also doesn’t seem to have anything prominent in his experience of serving the country.”
We should also notice the bloggers’ visions of Karim Masimov as a creature of the President’s son-in-law Timur Kulibaev. However, we will not consider that in detail. Let’s return to the portrait.
“Republic” newspaper text is posted on the website www.geo.kz. Their journalist considers Karim Masimov to be the most mysterious figure within the political elite, who has experienced an incredible rise to the top of the political Olympus. “Thanks to the mass media, Karim Masimov is known as a polyglot, who is fluent in Chinese, English, Arabic, Russian and Kazakh. However, some say it is not true. The respectable look and diplomas have always helped the hardworking and skilful person from Akmola. He can communicate in English more or less, but he doesn’t speak Kazakh or Arabic. However, he still is an excellent manager and supervisor.” Nevertheless, as noticed by www.nomad.su, the current Prime minister is the only person in the government (other than Kasymzhan Tokaev), who speaks several languages.
We should also note that Masimov ignores political intrigues; perhaps that’s how he avoided any public scandals. According to some foreign authors, Masimov’s authority is on the rise.
The Ukrainian portal www.dialogs.org.ua in its article, “The top-manager of oil-bearing steppes and Baikonur”, publishes the following: “… Many experts mention that in Kazakhstan’s totally corrupted government Masimov hasn’t been named in a scandal. Moreover, he has been trying to do his job and fulfill the undertaken functions, and kept an equal distance from main competing Kazakhstani clans. One of the reasons for this is his Uigur origin. He was a stranger in the groups, which form based on Kazakhstani tribal identities. No wonder that the unbiased and competent Masimov became one of the politicians closest to the President; the President has appreciated the ability of the financier to act in a modern and civilized manner even on unprepared ground. Regarding the discussion about the pro-Chinese orientation of Mr. Masimov, this is considered to be the lesser of two evils by the president, compared to the dependence from the clans.” Later the author summarizes: “Despite his close relations with Western investors, Masimov is supported by the Russian elite. Some of his course-mates in the Peoples Friendship University of Russia and colleagues in the trade representation of the USSR in Beijing currently occupy high posts in the commercial and governmental structures of the Russian Federation. At the same time, he is not a representative of the Soviet elite; hence, he thinks in terms of economic benefits for the country, rather than the approach of “hard to refuse the requests of Russian friends”. In this aspect, Masimov is a promising negotiator for competent Ukrainian entrepreneurs and officials, who will be able to demonstrate the mutual benefits of the Ukraine having an oil interest in Kazakhstan.”
Returning to the general image of Masimov among the users of the Web, we can notice another nickname – “Chinese”. The Prime Minister is considered to be closely connected with China, because he has graduated from Urumqi University and help high posts in international relations with China for a long time. In other words, he’s seen as a person oriented toward Kazakhstan’s Eastern neighbor. The following is an extract from a blog: “In my opinion, Masimov is assigned to the position in order to develop of relations with China. The previous Prime Minister, Danial Akhmetov, is said to have a pro-Russian policy…”
There is another opinion expressed in the website www.geo.kz, which claims the statements that Karim Masimov will be the conductor of Chinese influence in Kazakhstan are false. This author writes: “On the contrary, Uigur Karim Masimov, with his knowledge of China and Chinese people would neutralize the excessive activity of Chinese companies and regulate the Chinese influence on Kazakhstan’s territory. When Masimov was introduced, the President accidentally said that he is Kazakh. It is hard to judge whether the President made the mistake purposefully or accidentally. Maybe Nazarbaev meant that, although Karim Masimov is Uigur and has received a Chinese education, he is a citizen and patriot of Kazakhstan.” Obviously, the supporters of this opinion refer to the historical discord between China and Uigur society.
Then the author adds: “At the same time, Karim Masimov admires Chinese culture, and Chinese philosophy in particular. In addition, Masimov is quite proficient in the Eastern martial arts and he is the President of the Thai Boxing Federation. Unlike many other managers, he is not afraid of new technologies and, according to his own words, he likes to wander around in the ocean of the Internet. As well as in his career, Karim Masimov is also successful in his personal life. His wife Dilyaram is modest and remains far from social bustle, giving all of her attention to her husband and three children. Karim Masimov is very reserved and suspicious while communicating with a big group of people or the press. Therefore, he very thoroughly and comprehensively prepares for public speeches. Not being talkative, Karim Masimov always carefully chooses his words and statements. Nevertheless, there is a strong and determined person behind a slightly sleepy expression and phlegmatic manners.”
Another topic for discussion on the Internet is the possibility of the current head of government becoming the next President. These discussions are prompted by journalists’ materials and comments. For example, the text version of the “Freedom” radio program is dedicated to the changes in Kazakhstan’s government. One of the guests was Seidakhmet Kuttykadam, the chief-editor of the “Thought” socio-political journal: “Obviously, Nazarbaev’s successor will be Kazakh. But who exactly, will be decided in a couple of years. It seems to me that Masimov will not hold the position for more than two years. The directions of foreign and domestic policies are determined by Nazarbaev, and I think he will not leave his positions yet. Masimov is a flexible and obedient politician, unlike some other Prime Ministers, for example, Akhmetov was a purely technical figure; he didn’t intervene in big politics and did his own job. Masimov will fulfill all the orders of Nazarbaev.”
According to one of the authors on the website ru.kazakhstan.neweurasia.net, judging by the scale of PR and the degree of power, Karim Masimov can be compared to the First Vice Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev. The fact that the head of the government is the only official who has his own website conveys his desire to keep up with modern applications and be open, or at least appear to be so, with society. Masimov is educated enough to seek this.
Another difference between Masimov and his colleagues is that he is one of the youngest members of the current cabinet of ministers. The following is a five year old text still posted online: “Judging by his (Masimov’s) service record, his experience is not inferior to his elder colleagues’ experience… Karim Kazhymkanovich is fortune’s favorite, which still supports him.” The author, Aygul Omarova, then continues on the website nomad.su: “Karim Masimov is recognized as a competent leader, who skilfully uses the modern achievements of management. Karim Masimov could create a team of specialists, which worked in the chosen direction, on every position he has held. That is his strength. Karim Masimov is a typical representative of the new generation of top-managers; competent, relies on scientific developments in his work, and considers personnel to be the key factor in success. Time will show the future developments of Masimov’s activity.” Time has showed…
There are many statements describing Masimov as a good manager and financier online. In this context, one can remember his work as the Chairman of the managers committee of JSC “Almaty Trade-Finance Bank” and Halyk Bank, and also the position of Vice Minister of Transport and communication, and, of course, as the Vice Prime Minister. Masimov’s words about the enthusiasm in his activities and recognition of himself as an excitable person with respect to his job are posted on the Internet. His words “I’m very interested in it”, said when he was Vice Prime Minister, are cited on multiple servers. Characteristics such as