“The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on civic activism in Kazakhstan”, Anna Klimchenko, Viktoriya Nem and Kamila Smagulova (IEP, Berlin)

Civil society is the key driver of social change, yet civil society organizations and citizen activists face constraints in many Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan. For years, the notion of citizen engagement in Kazakhstan was conceptualized very narrowly, perceived to exist only with state financial support and the relentless oversight by state authorities. That is one of the reasons why it is believed that citizen engagement is relatively low, non-governmental organizations might not even be sustainable, and there are very limited opportunities opportunities for grassroot mobilization of citizens. This perception has changed somewhat during the first power transfer that happened in 2019, when the country’s first president Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down and was succeeded by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. This succession sparked a wave of protests, prompting a rise in political activism in the country.

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