AsiaNews: Central Asia, children who inherit ruling power from fathers

A very widespread practice. Four days ago, Serdar, the 40-year-old son of the president of Turkmenistan, took on two important state positions. In Tajikistan, Rustam Emomali, 34, was appointed speaker in the upper house of parliament by his father. Saida Mirziyoyev’s birthday, February 15, celebrated as a moment of “national interest”. Dariga Nazarbaeva, 57, at her father’s behest proclaimed “second most important person” in Kazakhstan.

In Central Asian countries, it is common practice for the children of presidents to be appointed by their father to crucial positions, keeping the sphere of absolute power within the family. The following are some examples.

On February 12, Serdar, the 40-year-old son of Turkmenistan’s President Gurbangul Berdymukhamedov (63), assumed two important state positions: he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and President of the General Regulatory Chamber. Thanks to these two offices, Serdar Berdymukhamedov was also immediately included in the State Council. In Turkmenistan, the president leads the government, so Serdar has become his father’s deputy.

The General Regulatory Chamber was created in 2007, just when Berdymukhamedov came to power, with the aim of controlling the regulatory and legal acts concerning the property and finances of the state. Its leaders are presidential nominations and have been changed quite often without official motivation. The post of vice-premier is instead a novelty, designed especially for Berdymukhamedov-junior, who will have to “improve the work of the government and the Council of State”, according to the intentions of his father.

It has been clear for some years now that Serdar was destined to reach the heights of power alongside his father. He has already held other prestigious positions: diplomat; deputy and member of the government; two years ago appointed deputy foreign minister; in February 2020 Minister of Industry and Construction.

He was also governor (Akim) of his native region, the velayati of Akhalsk for a few months. For the parliamentary elections that will take place this year, many predict that Serdar will also be able to add the presidency of the senate, the people’s Maslakhat, to his curriculum, which according to recent amendments to the Constitution is the second post in the country after the president.

The same is true in Tajikistan, where President Emomali Rakhmon (68), father of nine children, has appointed his eldest son Rustam Emomali (34) speaker of the upper house of parliament, who according to the Constitution can replace the president in case of necessity.

In Central Asian countries, all the presidents “substitutes” went on to become presidents themselves, with the exception of Roza Otunbaeva in Kyrgyzstan, who became president (the first woman in these countries) after the 2010 uprising. Berdymukhamedov himself came to power in this way, after the death of Saparmyrat Nyyazov, and so it was also for the president of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, after the death of Islam Karimov.

Mirziyoyev’s eldest daughter, Saida, turned 36 on February 15, and the date was proclaimed “of national interest”. For now, she occupies the “modest” position of vice-president of the Information Agency at the Uzbek presidency, but her public role is becoming increasingly important in the country, where she is now called the “Uzbek princess”, and is often sent to represent the nation in various international meetings. The same “worldly” process had already been covered by the eldest daughter of the previous president, Gulnora Karimova, also a singer and stylist, but the changes forced her to make her own and she now languishes in prison, for embezzlement.

Dariga, the 57-year-old daughter of Kazakhstan’s “eternal president” Nursultan Nazarbayev, was the country’s “second most important person” as president of the Senate until last year, but after this year’s elections she remained a simple senator and member of the state reform committee. Other children and relatives of the presidents of these countries have actively participated in political life, a list too long to summarize in a few lines.

by Vladimir Rozanskij