A view of burnt-out Almaty City Administration building in central Almaty, following violent protests.
A view of burnt-out Almaty City Administration building in central Almaty, following violent protests. © ALEXANDR BOGDANOV/AFP via Getty Images

Spotlight on Kazakstan

14 January 2022

IWPR's Frontline Updates – unique insights from our network of local reporters and updates from our programmes.

Welcome to this year’s first Frontline Update, with a spotlight on Kazakstan.

Anthony Borden

By Anthony Borden
IWPR FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR


IWPR has been working in Kazakstan since the late 1990s and continues to train new generations of journalists and analysts across Central Asia. Our long-term commitment and investment in local voices and civil society allows us to bring first-hand reporting on the worst unrest to hit Kazakstan for decades, despite ever-tighter restrictions on media and free expression.


We look forward to bringing you more local voices driving change in 2022.

INTERVIEW

Kazakstan in Crisis

Country sees a clampdown on independent media and civil society as CSTO troops arrive and a weakened president scrambles to entrench his grip on power.

By Abakhon Sultonnazarov
IWPR CENTRAL ASIA PROGRAMME DIRECTOR

Protesters stormed the mayor's office in Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty on Wednesday as unprecedented unrest in the Central Asian nation spun out of control.
Protesters stormed the mayor's office in Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty on Wednesday as unprecedented unrest in the Central Asian nation spun out of control. © Abduaziz Madyarov/AFP via Getty Images
Servicemen and their military vehicles block a street in central Almaty on January 7, 2022, after violence that erupted following protests over hikes in fuel prices.
Servicemen and their military vehicles block a street in central Almaty on January 7, 2022, after violence that erupted following protests over hikes in fuel prices. © ABDUAZIZ MADYAROV/AFP via Getty Images
Kazakhstan's president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on January 7 rejected calls for talks with protesters after days of unprecedented unrest, vowing to destroy "armed bandits" and authorising his forces to shoot to kill without warning.
Kazakhstan's president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on January 7 rejected calls for talks with protesters after days of unprecedented unrest, vowing to destroy "armed bandits" and authorising his forces to shoot to kill without warning. © Akorda.kz
Kazakhstan on January 5, 2022 declared a nationwide state of emergency after protests over a fuel price hike erupted into clashes and saw demonstrators storm government buildings.
Kazakhstan on January 5, 2022 declared a nationwide state of emergency after protests over a fuel price hike erupted into clashes and saw demonstrators storm government buildings. © ABDUAZIZ MADYAROV/AFP via Getty Images
A view of burnt-out Almaty City Administration building in central Almaty, following violent protests.
A view of burnt-out Almaty City Administration building in central Almaty, following violent protests. © ALEXANDR BOGDANOV/AFP via Getty Images
Collective Security Treaty Organisation's (CSTO) Russian soldiers in Almaty.
Collective Security Treaty Organisation's (CSTO) Russian soldiers in Almaty. © ALEXANDR BOGDANOV/AFP via Getty Images
Police officers block a street in central Almaty on January 7, 2022, after violence that erupted following protests over hikes in fuel prices.
Police officers block a street in central Almaty on January 7, 2022, after violence that erupted following protests over hikes in fuel prices. © ALEXANDR BOGDANOV/AFP via Getty Images

“Kazakstan’s instability has led to massive censorship and limits on freedom of speech.”

Kazak president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Kazak president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. © Akorda.kz
PROFILE

Kazakstan: Tokayev’s Ascent to True Power

The career diplomat’s slow, hierarchical advancement has finally lead to real authority.

What Next for Kazakstan?

Leadership promises economic reforms – but does not stint on criticism of elite.

President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev giving a speech in the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev giving a speech in the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan. © Akorda.kz
January 5, 2022 Kazak government declared a nationwide state of emergency after protests over a fuel price hike erupted into clashes and saw demonstrators storm government buildings.
January 5, 2022 Kazak government declared a nationwide state of emergency after protests over a fuel price hike erupted into clashes and saw demonstrators storm government buildings. © ABDUAZIZ MADYAROV/AFP via Getty Images

Kazak Human Rights Activists Fear Crackdown

Experts predict further prosecutions and tightened censorship in the wake of unrest.

"Many innocent people could suffer.”

Anger Over Kyrgyz Detained in Kazakstan

Arrests seen as a way for Kazak authorities to justify their claim that the clashes were sparked by external forces.

Vikram Ruzakhunov, a well-known jazz pianist on his return to Kyrgyzstan.
Vikram Ruzakhunov, a well-known jazz pianist on his return to Kyrgyzstan. © Ala-Too 24
Collective Security Treaty Organisation's (CSTO) Russian soldiers in Almaty.
Collective Security Treaty Organisation's (CSTO) Russian soldiers in Almaty. © ALEXANDR BOGDANOV/AFP via Getty Images

Political Unrest Sweeps Kazakstan

“Peacekeeping” forces from Russian-led military alliance arrive to help quell protests sparked by local anger at energy price rises.

“People are tired of waiting for what was promised to them 30 years ago.”

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