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Majlis Podcast: Despite Promises, Are Rights Abuses In Kazakhstan Getting Worse?


Activists protest against human rights abuses in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, in February 2020.

When Kazakhstan’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, officially stepped down from office in March 2019 and Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev became president, Toqaev promised changes to a system that had not changed very much in nearly 28 years.

There were many fair words about reforms, but nearly two years later Kazakhstan’s political system looks to be much the same as it has been.

On February 10, the European Parliament released a joint motion for a resolution that detailed the many areas where Kazakhstan continues to fall well short of its commitments to respect basic rights.

Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev (file photo)
Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev (file photo)

Kazakh authorities responded with the now-common defense that the criticisms were superficial and failed to take into account all of the changes that are happening in Kazakhstan.

On this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL media-relations manager Muhammad Tahir moderates a discussion on Kazakhstan in which some say the situation is actually becoming worse, not better, despite Toqaev’s promises.

This week’s guests are: from Almaty: Yevgeny Zhovtis, veteran rights defender and director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, and Marius Fossum, the Central Asia representative of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee; and from Prague: Aigerim Toleukhanova, a journalist in RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, and Bruce Pannier, author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

Despite Promises, Are Rights Abuses In Kazakhstan Getting Worse?
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Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes or on Google Podcasts.

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.

Content draws on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad.

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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