Kazakhstan’s domestic political scene has been significantly more active since first President Nursultan Nazarbaev stepped down from office in March this year and installed Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev as his successor.
Small protests, sometimes just a single person, have been frequent and continue to draw clumsy responses from officials. The October 26 anti-Chinese protests were a good example, as police were out in force across major cities, dragging people, sometimes innocent passersby, to buses to be taken to police stations.
And although most already considered Nazarbaev, who enjoys broad powers under Kazakhstan’s constitution both as first president and in his current position as head of the Security Council, to still be in charge in Kazakhstan, for some reason it was necessary to publish on October 22 a presidential decree adopted but not made public on October 9, essentially confirming Nazarbaev’s central role in governing the country.
On this week's podcast, RFE/RL's Media-Relations Manager Muhammad Tahir moderated a discussion on the latest events in Kazakhstan.
Participating from Almaty was Joanna Lillis, a veteran reporter on Central Asia and author of the book Dark Shadows: Inside The Secret World Of Kazakhstan. From Washington D.C., William Courtney, former U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan and currently an adjunct senior fellow at the Rand Corporation, took part in the discussion. And from Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), Kazakhstan, Aliya Izbassarova, the co-founder of the Qaharman human rights initiative, joined the podcast. As usual, I had a few things to say.