In addition to Nazarbaev, who now heads Kazakhstan’s powerful Security Council and has the title “leader of the nation,” the demonstrators on February 17 were also demanding to meet with Nazarbaev’s eldest daughter, Senate Chairwoman Darigha Nazarbaeva, as well as with the head of President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev’s office, Erlan Qoshanov.
Police blocked the demonstrators near the presidential headquarters in Nur-Sultan, preventing them from reaching the building where President Toqaev’s office is located.
Many of the visibly frustrated demonstrators said they’ve been paying mortgages on apartments in buildings that have not yet been completed.
Some protesters also complained that their attempts to attain justice in Kazakhstan’s civil and criminal courts have failed. They say they want senior officials to intervene on their behalf.
The demonstration was taking place while President Toqaev was in Germany following the February 14-16 Munich Security Conference.
Protests have taken place in Nur-Sultan for more than a year following a February 2019 house fire in the capital that killed five children from one family while both parents were working overnight shifts to make ends meet..
The 79-year-old Nazarbaev had been president of the former Soviet republic in Central Asia since before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Nazarbaev, who has tolerated little dissent during almost three decades in power, continues to head Kazakhstan’s ruling Nur-Otan party.
Nazarbaev named Toqaev as his choice to replace him when he announced his sudden resignation from the presidency in March 2019.
Toqaev was inaugurated in June after a weakly contested election marred by what international observers called “widespread voting irregularities.”
Opponents, critics, and rights groups say Nazarbaev has denied many citizens their basic rights and has prolonged his power in the country of 18.7 million people by manipulating the democratic process.
No vote held in Kazakhstan since 1991 has been deemed free and democratic by international observers.
Kazakhstan’s capital, formerly called Astana, was renamed in Nazarbaev’s honor in 2019.