Police arrested 20 protesters in Astana on Thursday, March 21, denouncing the name change of the capital to Nursultan, in honor of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who announced his resignation from office on Tuesday, March 19.
Similar demonstrations in the wake of Nazarbayev's announcement are possible throughout the country over the coming hours and days. Heightened security measures are expected around all potential protest sites; clashes between police and protesters cannot be ruled out.
On March 19, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation from the office of the presidency effective March 20. In a televised address on March 19, Nazarbayev, who will remain chair of the country's Security Council and the ruling Nur-Otan party, indicated the speaker of the upper parliament chamber Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev would be named interim president.
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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