When longtime president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, stepped down from office on March 19, 2019, it heralded a new era in Kazakh politics in many ways, not the least of which was a renewed inspiration among many, particularly the youth of the country, to go out on the streets and demonstrate for changes.
The new president, Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, has promised to ease past restrictions and implement reforms, some of which he says will help provide the basis for opposition groups to take a greater part in the country's political process.
But to date, there seems to be little progress.
There was an opposition rally on October 31 in the country's biggest city, Almaty, and in many other cities groups tried but failed to get permission to hold rallies.
Parliamentary elections are scheduled for January 10, 2021, and on November 5, a request from Kazakhstan's Democratic Party to hold a rally in Almaty was officially approved. But with or without permission, more rallies seem inevitable, even in these times of global pandemic.
On this week's Majlis Podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager for South and Central Asia, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion that looks at the rallies and attempted rallies of October 31, the difference in what authorities promised about the right to freedom of assembly and what is actually happening, and what we might expect in the weeks leading up to parliamentary elections, the first in Kazakhstan since Toqaev became president.
This week's guests are, speaking from Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, independent journalist Aigul Zhamal; from Almaty, political analyst Shalkar Nurseitov: also from Almaty, from RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, known locally as Azattyq, Mukhtar Senggirbay; and Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.