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Online discussion co-organized by the PaperLab Research Center (Astana, Kazakhstan)


In the first days of 2022, Kazakhstan witnessed a series of protests that sent shockwaves through the country. The response from authorities was marked by ambiguity, resulting in numerous casualties and injuries. To this day, a clear understanding of the events remains elusive. During this online discussion, the PaperLab Research Center will share its insights into public sentiment regarding the January 2022 protests. They will delve into people’s perspectives on the actions of the authorities and assess the level of trust in the official investigations. Additionally, researchers will share their findings from interviews with protesters shedding light on the internal dynamics of the protest mobilization.


Furthermore, Yevgeniy Zhovtis, the director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights, will disclose data collected in collaboration with the Human Rights Alliance for Fundamental Rights before, during, and after the events. He will report on labor and social rights violations in the Mangystau region, where the protests began. Mr. Zhovtis will also report on issues related to the right to life, freedom from torture, and the right to a fair trial during the investigations surrounding the “Bloody January.”




Serik Beissembayev is a sociologist and researcher focusing on public policy issues such as violent extremism, interethnic relations, and civil society in Kazakhstan. He is currently a co-founder and director of the PaperLab Research Center, an independent think tank based in Astana. At PaperLab, Mr. Beissembayev and his team conduct sociological and public policy research. Since 2020, PaperLab has completed over 40 research projects in partnership with governmental and international organizations. In 2022, the PaperLab team organized the first Central Asian Think Tank Forum, a collaboration and dialogue platform for independent research and analytical centers in the Central Asian region. Mr. Beissembayev is also known for his scientific and analytical publications in both Kazakhstani and international media outlets on issues pertaining to policy issues and public opinion.


Kamila Kovyazina is a sociology and public policy researcher in Kazakhstan. Kamila has 12 years of experience working in several think tanks to conduct sociology field studies and preparing analytical papers. Since April 2022, she is a part of PaperLab Research Center. Kamila holds an MA in Area studies from the Eurasian National University and is a doctoral student at the Nazarbayev University. Her research interests include gender issues, inequality, and secondary education.


Aldiyar Auyezbek is a Research Fellow at PaperLab specializing in researching economy and social perceptions in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. In six years of experience in Kazakhstani policy think tanks, he has contributed to economic policy and human capital development projects. At PaperLab, he has published articles on Kazakhstani societal perceptions and participated in studies on education, public safety, and healthcare. His research interests include the Central Asian region and sustainable development.


Yevgeniy Zhovtis serves as the director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights, the oldest and largest civil society organization in Kazakhstan, which marked its thirtieth anniversary this past summer. Since becoming involved in activism in the late 1980s, Mr. Zhovtis has devoted his career to defending human rights and opposing government repression. As a human rights expert, Mr. Zhovtis is a member of the Council of International Bar Association Human Rights Institute and OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Freedom of Assembly and Association. He co-authored the Report on the Bolotnaya Square Events in Moscow, published in 2012 by the International Expert Commission.




Karlygash Kabatova is a Program Associate at the Central Asia Program, IERES, The George Washington University. Her areas of research and advocacy are youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), gender education, gender-based violence, and civil activism. Karlygash is the founder of an SRHR project in Kazakhstan

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