Kazakhstan and the illusion of a ‘Central Asian Spring’

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On the 2nd of January, protests erupted in the small town of Zhanaozen in southwestern Kazakhstan near the Caspian Sea. The main driver for the demonstrations was the recent spike in energy prices, which almost doubled locally in a matter of days. However, the protests quickly adopted a more widespread form of political grievance, tackling issues such as economic stagnation and longstanding corruption. “Considering the sudden and forceful nature of the protests and their deeper socio-economic triggers, many analysts and commentators have rushed to make a direct reference to the Arab revolution…

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