Year 2022 Marked the Beginning of the End of Nazarbayev’s Rule

Nazarbayev Statue, National Museum of Kazakhstan in Astana.

The year 2022 was marked by significant changes in Kazakhstan, particularly the end of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s rule. This change was symbolized by the removal of his monument on 12 January of 2024 which stood in front of a university in Astana. The monument was taken down and put into storage, explained by the Ministry of Defense as a result of changing the university’s name.

During the violent protests in January of 2022, protesters in Taldykorgan tore down another monument to Nazarbayev located in front of the mayor’s office. Prior to this, Nazarbayev held substantial influence in the country, with the capital named after him and streets bearing his name.

According to Radio Free Europe, experts say that after the January events, Nazarbayev’s influence waned while that of the current president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev increased. This began a period of distancing from Nazarbayev within the country. The capital returned to its former name of Astana, the status of “Leader” granted to Nazarbayev was removed from the Constitution, and the protections that shielded him and his family from criminal prosecution were lifted.