2022 was a turbulent year for Kazakhstan. In early January, anti-government protests erupted across the country. The resulting clashes between police and demonstrators led to thousands of arrests and left more than 200 people dead. In response, President Kassym-Jomart Tokaev promised political reforms. Tokaev also quickly began distancing himself (in public, at least) from his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan has faced further challenges in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since September, thousands of Russians fleeing military mobilisation have arrived in Kazakhstan and a wave of inflation is spelling uncertainty for the economic future of the country.
In this episode of War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Nurseit Niyazbekov, professor of international relations at Almaty’s KIMEP University, to discuss the aftermath of the deadly protests last January, Kazakhstan’s political landscape and the impact of the war in Ukraine on the country’s domestic and foreign affairs. They address how Tokaev fared politically in 2022 and the prospects for democratic reforms in the country. They also examine the impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Kazakhstan’s economy and how Kazakhstan has balanced its foreign relations since “Bloody January”.