Demonstrators rallied in Astana, Almaty, and other cities to call for the resignation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Wednesday, February 27. According to local reports, police arrested several people outside the office of the ruling Nur-Otan party in Astana while authorities detained two journalists in Zhanaozen on Wednesday. Additional similar demonstrations may take place in other urban centers throughout the country over the near term. Heightened security measures are expected around all protest sites; clashes between police and protesters cannot be ruled out.
Protests calling for the resignation of Nazarbayev, who has been in power since 1990, have intensified across the country following the deaths of five children in a house fire on February 4. Police indicate the children died in the blaze while their parents were working an overnight shift. While the government subsequently allocated additional funds for low-income families in an attempt to appease protesters, demonstrations have continued in Kazakhstan amid heightened socioeconomic tensions.
Kazakhstan's law on public assembly is highly restrictive and effectively denies citizens the right to protest. Nevertheless, mass protests do occasionally take place in the country.
Individuals in Kazakhstan are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all political gatherings as a precaution, anticipate similar protests and associated disruptions over the coming weeks, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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