Lesson of the Day: ‘Revolt in Kazakhstan: What’s Happening, and Why It Matters’

Lesson of the Day: ‘Revolt in Kazakhstan: What’s Happening, and Why It Matters’

Featured Article: “Revolt in Kazakhstan: What’s Happening, and Why It Matters” by Dan Bilefsky

In the past weeks, protests in Kazakhstan have intensified from anger over surging fuel prices to clashes over the future direction of the country. The recent unrest prompted a Russia-led military intervention and the killing of dozens of antigovernment demonstrators.

In this lesson, you will learn about the clashes between protesters and police officers, the events that led to the demonstrations as well as how the government, and neighboring countries, have responded. Then, you will read one additional article to learn more about the conflict.

How much do you know about Kazakhstan? Can you find the country on a map? Try this quiz to test your knowledge and to learn something new.

What have you seen or heard about the recent protests in Kazakhstan? Watch this one-minute video that shows images from the demonstrations and gives some background information about the situation.

  • What is your reaction to the video?

  • What is one thing you learned about the current situation?

  • What is one question you hope will be answered in the featured article?

Read the article, then answer the following questions:

1. Read the five introductory paragraphs to the article and respond to the following questions:

  • What are some of the locations in Almaty, the country’s largest city, that have been affected by protests?

  • How did the president respond to the protests?

  • What do these protests symbolize about larger tension in the region?

2. On the most surface level, what led to the protests? When digging deeper, what are some of the more complex and longstanding issues that contribute to the anger and frustration that many Kazakhs feel?

3. What changes do protesters want to see in their country?

4. Up until this point, how has Kazakhstan been regarded from the outside? What is the country’s relationship to Russia?

5. Why might the crisis in Kazakhstan undermine Moscow’s sway in the region? What could this mean for countries like Ukraine and Belarus? What does it mean for the United States?

6. What are some of the actions the government has taken to meet demonstrators’ demands? What has the government done to try to shut down protests?

7. What is the relationship between Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s former president, and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the current president? How have recent events challenged that relationship?