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Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Majlis Podcast: Preelection Discontent Spills Out In Kazakhstan


The runup to Kazakhstan’s June 9 snap presidential election has already been hard on the country’s image.

Plans for a smooth transition of power from Kazakhstan’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, to Nazarbaev’s seeming handpicked successor, QasymZhomart Toqaev, have encountered difficulties.

On April 21, when Asiya Tulesova and Beibarys Tolymbekov stood along the Almaty Marathon route and held up a banner saying, “You cannot run from the truth,” it was an early sign of discontent among some in Kazakhstan who feel they have no choice in the transfer of leadership that is taking place, or any voice in decisions on other important national matters.

The peaceful protests might not be large, but they have received significant international media attention, as have the often clumsy responses of the authorities.

RFE/RL’s mediarelations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderated a discussion about the turbulence in Kazakhstan as the country heads toward what was expected to be a smooth transition.

From Almaty, Leila Zuleikha Makhmudova, political activist and gender and education consultant, joined the talk. From Kazakhstan’s capital, NurSultan, Reid Standish, the Central Asian correspondent for Foreign Policy magazine, took part. Kazakhstan’s presidential campaign has already been far more interesting than I expected, so I was happy to throw in a few comments.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.