On January 5th, massive anti-government protests over skyrocketing fuel prices broke out in Kazakhstan. The government first turned off the internet and announced strict curfews to disperse the protesters, but after the protests turned into riots, President Tokayev ordered the security forces to “shoot to kill without warning.” Even more shocking was that Tokayev invited forces from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), who immediately sent Russian troops to Almaty. RFE/RL has reported that about 227 people died during the unrest, including 149 civilians and 11 members of law enforcement bodies just in Almaty. More than 10,000 were detained during the unrest, and there are reportedly several hundred still in custody. What were the main causes of the uprising? Why did Moscow choose to intervene? Will Tokayev manage to hold on to power and regain credibility? Join us to discuss the aftermath of Kazakhstan’s “bloody January.”
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Vyacheslav Abramov - Vyacheslav Abramov is a Kazakh journalist and editor. He has worked for Kazakhstani national TV and radio, news agencies, and newspapers. From 2006 to 2010, Mr. Abramov was director of the national watchdog organization MediaNet and head of the independent School of Journalism. From 2010 to 2013 he was country director of Freedom House in Kazakhstan. In 2012, he founded online media Vlast.kz, an independent analytical online magazine covering politics, economy, and social issues.
Maximilian Hess - Maximilian Hess is a Central Asia Fellow in the Eurasia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Max is the former head of political risk at Hawthorn Advisors and former head of research and intelligence at AKE International. He is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and SOAS, University of London. His research focuses on the relationship between trade, debt, international relations and foreign policy, as well the overlap between political and economic networks.