Invitation to the Civil Service. Excerpts from the book of Ablyazov
© 27.02.2014

Moderator remark: As early as in 2002, while still remaining imprisoned, Mukhtar Ablyazov begins writing his book, entitled “Searching for himself”. The book has not been published, as such, yet its chapters have featured in Kazakh independent press. We hereby present to you sections from the first chapter, “The top manager”.

Section 1 - Invitation to the Civil Service

In October 1994, Akezhan Kazhegeldin becomes Prime Minister of Kazakhstan. By then I was already a renowned, successful businessman, so before Kazhegeldin’s appointment I would often talk to him, approaching him with various ideas.

In September 1994, during a convention of the entrepreneurs’ congress, I put forward my critique of the state budget and made a number of suggestions as to how the economic standing of the country could be improved. As a result, the same autumn that Kazhegeldin became prime minister, he made me a number of offers to join the ranks of the state civil service. The first one concerned my possible heading of the Chief Republican Tax Inspectorate, which back then, was part of the Ministry of Finance; therefore the post of Chief Financial Inspector automatically elevated me to the post of deputy Minister of finance. Still, I rejected this. I also turned down the offer to head the National Savings Bank, which was subsequently taken over by Zeynulla Kakimzhanov.

It was then proposed that I became the president in the newly created National Commission for Securities; I let them persuade me and basically consented. Almost immediately, an act of parliament was signed on my appointment - however, having thought it through,

Should I have refused, my business would have faced problems.

I resigned the following day. Kazhegeldin was absolutely outraged, he told me I had betrayed him. But my situation was a fairly difficult one: the managers I had been working with since the very beginning of my business activity told me that if I quit the company, they would do the same. People did not want to work under a different management. The company I had spent so much effort in building could not simply fall to pieces, so I refused the offers to enter the state civil service. In a fit of rage, Kazhegeldin told me not to address him anymore, for he would assist me with nothing.

I stopped going to Kazhegeldin; however, during our occasional meetings he still attempted to persuade me to work in the government.

The approaches grew more intense by the beginning of 1997, when I was offered the leadership of the tax police in the republic. In 1995-96 the tax police were coming at me quite aggressively, trying to carry out the orders of Nazarbayev and push me out of the sugar production market; as a result, I had to say farewell to my business in that sector. I could not have taken the head position in an authority which had just the previous day worked to undermine my business, and from then on it would be me persecuting others. Of course, once again I said no…

Meanwhile, the government was desperately short of people who were able to think in market-economy terms, able to take decisions independently. A decision was made that they should be drawn from the world of the big business. In the civil service, the period of ‘young-managerial-staff wave’ began. In early 1995, Sauat Myntbayev was appointed the deputy Minister of Finance (having previously been the deputy president of KKB, and being a KKB shareholder). In 1996, “Kazakhtelekom” was headed by Serik Burkitbayev (protégée of KKB), in November 1996 the post of the head of RGP “Kazakhstan Temir Zholy” was taken by Erkin Kaliyev, also a KKB candidate. Nurlan Smagulov, my business partner and president of “Astana-Motors”, was appointed the head of the then-defaulted Alimentary Contracting Corporation. It was becoming clear that I would not be left in peace; it no longer had a semblance of an invitation, but rather a demand to take up a post in the state civil service. Should I have refused, my business would have faced problems. 


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