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Kazakh police detain a demonstrator during protests in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Kazakh police detain a demonstrator during protests in Almaty, Kazakhstan, June 12, 2019 (AP photo by Vladimir Tretyakov).

Protests Against Kazakhstan’s ‘Stage-Managed’ Election Test Tokayev’s Legitimacy

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Authorities in Kazakhstan cracked down on a series of large-scale protests before and after a tightly controlled presidential election on June 9, arresting thousands of demonstrators as well as a number of journalists. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, an ally of Kazakhstan’s longtime autocratic leader Nursultan Nazarbeyev, won the election in the first transition of power that the country has seen since it emerged as an independent state following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. But the election was orchestrated to ensure Tokayev’s victory, leading protesters to demand more political openness and civil liberties. In an email interview with WPR, Paul Stronski, a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, discusses the implications of the protests for Kazakhstan’s new leadership and the outsized role that Nazarbayev will continue to play.

World Politics Review: Can the results of the election on June 9 be taken as a sign of more political space opening under newly elected President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev? ...

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