It seems to be a little exaggeration to tell that early resignation of the Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev – the politician whose career comes back to the Soviet Union times – became surprise both for the international community and for the Kazakh people. Elbasy – such honourable title was given to Nazarbayev – seemed to be ageless patriarch of the Kazakh political life which might face any change, except for such one. However, this confirms once again that there is nothing permanent under the sun, particularly in politics.
We do not still know for certain the true reason for Nazarbayev’s resignation – whether it was deep problems of the Kazakh economy and the social sphere, which have not been overcome during 30 years of his ruling, or contradictions between northern and southern regions of Kazakhstan where the social tension increases. Possibly the reason is the ordinary health problems of aged Kazakh leader.
Nazarbayev’s resignation is the message to regional partners and primarily to Russia. Nazarbayev’s and Putin’s regimes have a lot in common – particularly, that is critical dependence of political regime stability from oil and gas dollars, lack of social preconditions for rotation even at the level of regional elite, clannishness and extreme corruption of both the central and regional power. Therefore, today V.Putin may see the future of that political model which has been built in Russia since 1999. Such a system based on operation of natural resources and the powerful system of law-enforcement agencies rapidly loses its stability with an organized pressure from the international community – including for the reason that the state, exporting the natural resources, is not self-sufficient and capable of long economic opposition by its nature.
However, some differences of Russia from Kazakhstan may be also noted. Kazakhstan does not conduct several hybrid military conflicts (in Ukraine and Syria) at the same time, it does not support the corrupted allies (as in case of Maduro’s regime in Venezuela). Kazakhstan is not imposed with sanctions which slowly, though steadily destroy the most science intensive and high-tech industries of the national economy.
Such conditions give rise to the situation when peaceful, the so-called ‘Kazakh’ option of state authority changes will become a challenge for Russia. In case of Russia, such changes of state authorities may be followed by mass riots, increase of separatist sentiments in certain federal subjects, and simple blood shedding.
However, sooner or later Putin’s era will end. The question is how it will end. Is the Russian elite ready to follow the N.Nazarbayev’s example and provide peaceful change of the state authority?