Leaderless, spontaneous protests spread rapidly across Kazakhstan in early January. In this Q&A, Crisis Group explains that demonstrators’ varied demands reflected discontent with worsening inequalities and calcified leadership and discusses the implications of the ensuing government reshuffle and mass arrests.
France’s president sought to boost ties with Kazakhstan, and FMs from Central Asian countries attended G7 online meeting.
Macron sought to bolster cooperation. French President Macron 1 Nov met with President Tokayev in capital Astana during regional tour (see Uzbekistan) to “accelerate cooperation” in key sectors. Pair signed raft of agreements, including on transport engineering, agribusiness and pharmaceuticals; Macron also praised Astana for refusing “to be a vassal of any powers”. Days after Macron’s visit, Russian President Putin 9 Nov met with Tokayev in Astana to discuss bilateral cooperation, with Putin calling for stronger military ties. In interview broadcast 12 Nov, Russian FM Lavrov accused west of trying to “push” Moscow out of Central Asia.
G7 hosted Central Asian FMs for virtual meeting. During 7-8 Nov G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Japan, FMs from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan 8 Nov attended virtual session amid efforts by G7 to strengthen engagement with Central Asia. G7 promised to “support the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Central Asian countries” and to strengthen cooperation on “regional challenges”, such as impact of war in Ukraine, water security and climate change. Meanwhile, Belarus 23 Nov hosted Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization summit, bringing together leaders from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (see Belarus).
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by KIMEP University Professor Nurseit Niyazbekov to talk about what has happened since last January's deadly protests in Kazakhstan, prospects for political reform and the future of Kazakhstan-Russia relations.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk to Nurseit Niyazbekov, professor of international relations at Almaty’s KIMEP University, about the wave of protests that swept across Kazakhstan, why they happened and their implications for the future.
This week on War & Peace, post-Soviet security expert Dr Erica Marat joins Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope to discuss the drivers of anti-establishment protests and the policing thereof across Central Asia and globally.
Four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have argued over their water resources since the collapse of the Soviet Union. At times these disputes have seemed to threaten war. The forthcoming presidential summit in Astana can help banish that spectre.
Kazakhstan’s wish for stability and continuity under long-serving President Nazarbayev trumps the will for political change, especially given turbulence elsewhere on Russia’s borders. But without economic reform, full ethnic equality and a political succession plan, the Central Asian country risks becoming another brittle post-Soviet state vulnerable to external destabilisation.
In late 2014, consultant and former Crisis Group researcher, Varvara Pakhomenko, journeyed to the northern Kazakh steppe, and the towns and villages along Kazakhstan’s Russian border, to learn more about the interwoven relationship between the Kazakh and Russian speakers of the area.
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