Webinar – “The New Kazakhstan” : historical perspectives and geopolitical issues – Thursday June 30, 2022

Register for the very first webinar organized by EurasiaPeace on the theme: “The New Kazakhstan”: historical perspectives and geopolitical issues on Thursday, June 30, 2022: REGISTRATION

Working language: French

In the presence of:

Catherine Poujol: The narrow path of President Tokaev or the need to reform post-Nazarbaev Kazakhstan.

Historian and professor at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO) where she co-directs the Observatory of Post-Soviet States, Catherine Poujol holds the “History and Cultures of Central Asia” chair. She is also the former director of the French Institute for Central Asian Studies (IFEAC) and Knight of the National Order of Merit since 2017. Specialist in Central Asia and transition periods, her areas of research concern, among other things, the history and civilization of modern and contemporary Central Asia, comparative studies on the colonial, Soviet and post-Soviet transition, and the management of health, environmental and social risks and multiple crises.

Kuralay Baizakova: A New Stage in Kazakhstan’s Development: Constitutional Reforms and National and Regional Security Issues.

Professor of History of International Relations and Director of the Institute of Security and Cooperation Issues at the Kazakh National University of al-Farabi, Kuralay Baizakova is a specialist in matters of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy and international and regional security. She is the author of more than 300 monographs and scientific articles on these subjects and lecturer in several foreign universities such as Le Havre, Hong Kong or Incheon in South Korea.

Isabelle Ohayon: The January riots in perspective: the metamorphoses of political protest in the recent history of Kazakhstan.

Historian, researcher at the CNRS, at the Center for the Study of the Russian, Caucasian and Central European World (CERCEC-EHESS), Isabelle Ohayon works on the social and political history of Russian and Soviet Central Asia. She is the author of a study on the sedentarization of Kazakhs under Stalin and numerous articles on the transformations of power and societies in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan from their integration into the Russian Empire until the fall of the USSR.

Michaël Levystone: The redefinition of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy since the crisis of January 2022.

Michaël Levystone is a researcher at the Russia/New Independent States Center at IFRI. His work focuses mainly on the domestic and foreign policies of the Central Asian Republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan). A graduate of ESSEC in Strategy and Management of International Trade, of IRIS in International Relations and of the University of Paris 5 in International Business Law, he worked at the French Embassy in Kazakhstan and at the Franco Observatory -Russian based in Moscow.


The social crisis of January 2022 in Kazakhstan started with the popular demonstrations of Janaozen and Aktau following the doubling of the price of liquefied gas, before spreading to several oil towns in the south-west of the country then to its main cities as well as to its capital Nour-Sultan, with demands that go far beyond questions of standard of living or social inequality. Giving rise to clashes of great violence and numerous civilian victims, the situation quickly stabilized with the intervention of the CSTO, observed with great concern in neighbouring countries and which raised fears of an abandonment by Kazakhstan from its multi-vector policy, but which nevertheless ended with the withdrawal of Russian forces completed on January 19. On January 5, at the same time as the decree of the state of emergency, President Kassym-Jomart Tokaiev announced the resignation of the government, the dismissal of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev from his post as President of the Security Council and future political reforms. On 5th June, the people of Kazakhstan voted by a very large majority in favour of YES in the referendum concerning the proposed constitutional reforms and aimed in particular at limiting the power of the president.

We are thus witnessing a turning point not only with regard to the country’s internal policy, these upheavals being able to be interpreted as a new crisis of succession after the one that the country had experienced at the time of Perestroika, but also with regard to its foreign policy. Indeed, the war in Ukraine has made it possible to observe both a reorientation of relations between Kazakhstan and Russia in the direction of a clear rhetorical distancing, and an active diversification of its economic and defence partnerships.

Why such a reform now? What is its content? What domestic and international policy issues does it address? What are the exact security issues facing the country? What does the history of political protests in the country tell us to interpret the January crisis? What are the new foreign policy directions of the Kazakh state since the January crisis? How does the war in Ukraine affect Kazakh international politics?

The concept of “New Kazakhstan” carried by the power calls for a decryption to which several researchers will bring their contribution here. A half-hour discussion is planned with the public.

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