Prime Minister Karim Masimov has topped a new ranking of Kazakhstan’s movers and shakers published by the Vlast online magazine.
Masimov, Kazakhstan’s longest serving premier (he has headed the cabinet since 2007), managed to come top since the study did not include President Nursultan Nazarbayev. As Vlast put it, “it is obvious that in terms of level of influence not a single participant in the ranking could compare [with the president].”
Nazarbayev is by far Kazakhstan’s most influential figure, but Vlast’s take on who else wields power, formed by polling 90 experts, makes interesting reading.
Timur Kulibayev, a son-in-law of Nazarbayev who has been tipped as a possible successor, was in third place: After Masimov came Aslan Musin, head of Nazarbayev’s administration and a gray cardinal on Kazakhstan’s political scene.
Another presidential relative featured on the list: Dariga Nazarbayeva, the president’s eldest daughter, who has recently staged a political comeback by winning a parliamentary seat.
Kulibayev and Nazarbayeva are joined on Vlast’s ranking by other influential people mooted as possible presidential successors: Nurtay Abykayev, the 64-year-old head of the domestic intelligence service, is at number four; Akhmetzhan Yesimov, the 61-year-old mayor of Almaty, is at number 10.
Yesimov’s influence is outranked by two younger contenders tipped as possible future presidents: 43-year-old Deputy Prime Minister Kayrat Kelimbetov at number six; and, on his heels at number seven, Imangali Tasmagambetov, the 55-year-old mayor of Astana.
The other politicians to make it into the top 10 were Umirzak Shukeyev – the head of Kazakhstan’s Samruk-Kazyna fund, which controls all state economic assets – at number five, and Marat Tazhin, Security Council secretary, who ranked eighth.
One businessman ranked among Kazakhstan’s 10 most influential people was Bolat Utemuratov, rated by Forbes magazine as Kazakhstan’s third richest man. Copper oligarch Vladimir Kim (Kazakhstan’s wealthiest man, according to Forbes) was ranked at number 21.
The question of who has influence over Kazakhstan’s political and economic environment is being closely watched as concerns about presidential succession keep the country guessing. Nazarbayev, who has been in power for over two decades, has the right to stand in presidential elections for life, but as he ages (he will turn 72 this July) the question of who will take the helm is becoming ever more pressing.