WASHINGTON - In February 2019, a spike in women-led protests calling for better living conditions led to the resignation of Kazakhstan’s cabinet. While the number of protest events decreased in the following months, the resignation of longtime authoritarian ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev in March revived demonstrations after the election of his handpicked successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in June. Protest activity steadily increased throughout the summer, with nearly double the number of protest events recorded in July compared to February.
The state crackdown on demonstrations resulted in public outcry, forcing the new government to allow peaceful protests in August. In the weeks since, protest activity has skyrocketed. In September, the country was roiled by a wave of mass protests demanding the reduction of Chinese involvement in Kazakhstan, and action against China’s repression of minorities in Xinjiang.
● ACLED records nearly 200 demonstration events from February-September 2019, with the number of protest events rising from just four in April to 60 in September ○ Over the eight months prior to this increase, just over 30 protest and riot events were reported.
● Demonstration events are recorded in nearly 25 locations across Kazakhstan since February, though concentrated in Nur-Saltan, the capital, and Almaty, the largest city in the country.
● A majority of these demonstration events were peaceful protests, yet more than 50 events faced intervention by state forces.