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Where Is Kazakhstan Headed As Frustration Continues To Grow?

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev

At the start of February, a fire killed five girls, aged 3 months to 13 years, in their home in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana. It happened when both parents had to work overnight.

The tragedy released the frustrations of many people in Kazakhstan who struggle to support large families. Mothers of such families led protests, calling for greater benefits and less paperwork from a government that has for years encouraged large families in the sparsely populated country.

As has happened before in Kazakhstan, other issues were added to the initial cause of discontent and as the second half of February started, there were even some scattered calls for Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev to leave office.

In response, on February 21, Nazarbaev told the government to resign.

A new prime minister was named and shortly after more than $3 billion was promised for greater benefits and wages and infrastructure projects.

On this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion on this whirlwind of activity in Kazakhstan in February and where it all might be leading in the coming months.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan William Courtney participated in the discussion from Moscow.

From Washington, D.C., Erica Marat, an associate professor at the National Defense University and author of The Politics Of Police Reform: Society Against The State In Post-Soviet Countries, joined the Majlis.

From Glasgow University, our longtime friend Luca Anceschi, professor of Central Asian Studies, took part in the session.

And, naturally, I had something to say, too.

Majlis Podcast: Where Is Kazakhstan Headed?
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Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes.

About Majlis

Each week, hosts Bruce Pannier and Muhammad Tahir welcome a panel of expert guests to discuss significant political developments and pressing social issues affecting the nations of Central Asia.

Click here to check out the latest Majlis podcast, or visit ITunes.