Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Crisis in Kazakhstan: Protests, Regime Stability, and Regional Security

Register for Zoom Webinar  Watch on YouTube


Kazakhstan is now recovering from its worst bout of unrest since acquiring independence in 1991.

Protests in early January over a gas-price hike mysteriously escalated, leading to scenes of chaotic violence in Almaty and other cities. President Kassym-Jomart Tokaev responded with force. He also sought and received support from the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which dispatched a roughly 2,500-strong peacekeeping force to Kazakhstan. Amid the tumult, Tokaev moved to curb the influence of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev and his close associates. And with the restoration of order, Tokaev took measures to address public discontent, announcing the establishment of a social fund, stating: “I believe the time has come to pay that which is due to the people.”

How did the protests erupt and how will recent events influence government policy? Who is in charge? Will Kazakhstan’s foreign policy orientation change? And what is the significance of the CSTO’s intervention? Our expert panelists will address these and other questions, as well as ponder what the future holds for the country widely considered as Central Asia’s economic engine.



Alexander Cooley, Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College
Peter Leonard, Eurasianet’s Central Asia editor
Joanna Lillis, Eurasianet’s chief correspondent in Kazakhstan
Colleen Wood, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, Columbia University

Justin Burke, Publisher and Executive Director, Eurasianet
Elise Giuliano, Director of the Program on U.S.-Russia Relations at the Harriman Institute


Event Video


Featured image attribution: By Esetok – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0