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Twitter Spaces Briefing: A Week That Changed Kazakhstan Forever. What's Next?

Protesters are seen on January 5 outside the Almaty mayor’s office, which was set ablaze during the protests.
Protesters are seen on January 5 outside the Almaty mayor’s office, which was set ablaze during the protests.

What does the future have in store for Kazakhstan, its people, and its politics?

Protests that first broke out on January 2 over a hike in fuel prices in western Kazakhstan quickly spread across the country as Kazakhs -- hungry for change -- took to the streets in nationwide protests.

But the unrest quickly took on new dimensions with a turn toward violent attacks and riots in what many eyewitnesses describe as the result of groups hijacking what began as peaceful protests. Elite infighting also hangs over the events, with it increasingly looking like Kazakhstan’s shadowy politics, which normally takes place behind closed doors, played out on the streets.

The crisis also took on a geopolitical element with an intervention by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military alliance, effectively allowing the Kremlin to prop up President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, which could have far-reaching implications for the country.

Understanding what’s next for Kazakhstan after a week that changed the country forever was the focus of a live Twitter Spaces discussion hosted by RFE/RL on January 13.

Joining as guests were Raushan Zhandayeva, a Kazakh-born researcher at George Washington University; Alimana Zhanmukanova, a Kazakh-born expert on Central Asian politics based in Tblisi; and RFE/RL's Bruce Pannier, author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

The discussion was moderated by RFE/RL correspondent Reid Standish.

Twitter Spaces: A Week That Changed Kazakhstan Forever...What's Next?
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    Reid Standish

    Reid Standish is an RFE/RL correspondent in Prague and author of the China In Eurasia briefing. He focuses on Chinese foreign policy in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and has reported extensively about China's Belt and Road Initiative and Beijing’s internment camps in Xinjiang. Prior to joining RFE/RL, Reid was an editor at Foreign Policy magazine and its Moscow correspondent. He has also written for The Atlantic and The Washington Post.

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China In Eurasia
Reid Standish

In recent years, it has become impossible to tell the biggest stories shaping Eurasia without considering China’s resurgent influence in local business, politics, security, and culture.

Subscribe to this biweekly dispatch in which correspondent Reid Standish builds on the local reporting from RFE/RL’s journalists across Eurasia to give you unique insights into Beijing’s ambitions and challenges.

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