Events Calendar

“The Return of Foreign Fighters from Conflict Zones: Kazakhstan’s Experience,” with Dr. Yerlan Karin @ Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412
Jan 28 @ 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
As the Syrian conflict entered into the new stage, the return of foreign fighters to Central Asia became one the biggest security agenda. Kazakhstan faced up with the problem of the possible return of battle-experienced Kazakh nationals. Despite the growing concerns, the Kazakh government shaped its own counter-terrorism approach by launching humanitarian operation “Zhusan”. As a result, more than 600 people, mainly women, and children were repatriated back to Kazakhstan.

Dr. Yerlan Karin 

Advisor to the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Chairman of Kazakhstan Council on International Relations (KCIR)
Dr. Yerlan Karin is Advisor to the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Chairman of Kazakhstan Council on International Relations. He is leading international security and terrorism expert. His research focuses on Central Asian foreign fighters, China-Kazakhstan relations and regional security. He took part in recent Kazakhstani government “Zhusan” operation, which focused on repatriation of Kazakh families from the conflict zones in Syria. Between February 2017 and April 2019, Yerlan Karin served as the CEO of Kazakhstan Radio and Television Corporation, the largest national media company in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. During this period, he launched milestone joint projects with CCTV, Hunan TV, NHK and TRT channels. He was director of the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan from 2014-2017, and was decorated by the former President Nursultan Nazarbayev for his services to government. Currently, Dr. Karin serves on number of boards, including Expert Council under the Security Council of Kazakhstan, Public Board for ensuring the rule of law under the General Prosecutor’s Office of Kazakhstan. He is Secretary of the National Public Trust Council of Kazakhstan. He is author of several books and documentary projects on foreign policy and security “Soldiers of Caliphate”, “Operation Zhusan”, “Central Asian Foreign Fighters: Between ISIS and Al-Qaeda”. He is often invited to speak at the Chatham House, RUSI, Carnegie Endowment, IFRI, Valdai Club, CICIR, JIIA and other think tanks. Dr. Karin is Honorary Professor at Shanghai University of International Studies.


Photo Exhibit ‘Afterword’ by Nata Li @ Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Suite 412
Feb 20 – Mar 9 all-day
Photo Exhibit ‘Afterword’ by Nata Li @ Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Suite 412

Kazakhstani photographer Nata Li captures the aftermath of the Berezovka tragedy – toxic poisoning of children
from Western Kazakhstan. On November 28, 2014, 25 school children from Berezovka suffered from
convulsions, fainting spells, dizziness, elevated blood pressure, and severe headaches. The evening before, an
accident took place on the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field, which is located a mere five kilometers
from the village. To this day, the children continue to be ill.

The exhibition focuses on one of the girls – Albina Iskakova, who is trying to recover while still maintaining some
sort of a typical teenage life.

“Out of all the materials about the tragedy of the village of Berezovka created over the years, there was no
personal history of a child, and after all, every child is a person, not a silent and powerless creature. I saw a
strong personality in Albina and wanted to tell her story, maybe it will somehow help her and people like her”,
says Nata Li.

Each photograph is supplemented with a QR-code that allows listening to different parts of the interview with
Albina on visitors' smartphones (available in English and in Russian). Real-life sounds, in-depth interviews with
Albina, and striking images of the abandoned village create a memorable and immersive effect.

“The project was designed as a private conversation with Albina, one on one, because personal conversation
heart to heart is what we are losing in our society, but to which we are very drawn. I decided to use Albina’s
voice, and I recommend bringing headphones to the exhibit to experience a personal conversation”, explains the

Photographs include portraits of Albina and striking images of the abandoned village – the residents Berezovka
were relocated in 2018, after almost 15 years of fighting environmental justice.

Nata Li is a photographer based in Kazakhstan. Her work was previously featured in LaGuardia College in New
York, at the Civic Solidarity Platform meeting in Poland, and in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The pictures were originally done as a part of the Rights Reframed project supporting media professionals
covering Central Asia and done with the support from IPHR and NMAP.

More information about the photo project can be found at:


Film Screening – Kazakh Khanate: Diamond Sword @ Room 213, Elliott School of International Affairs
Feb 26 @ 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Film Screening - Kazakh Khanate: Diamond Sword @ Room 213, Elliott School of International Affairs

Kazakh Khanate: Diamond Sword tells the history of fifteenth century Eurasia. For several centuries, this region was largely ruled by descendants of the great Genghis Khan. One of them, Abulkhair Shaibani, usurped power in the White Horde. The two legitimate heirs to the throne – Kerey and Zhanibek – urge their nomadic tribes to leave the despotic ruler. In search of freedom and a better life, the nomads follow the two Sultans, facing bloody battles, hardships, bitter losses, and the joy of victory. Ultimately, a new ethnic group emerges in the Great Steppe – the Kazakhs, along with their new state, the Kazakh Khanate.


5:30 – 6:30 PM Reception
6:30 – 6:45 PM Opening Remarks

H.E. Yerzhan Kazykhanov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan

Dr. Peter Rollberg, Associate Dean, Elliott School of International Affairs

6:45 – 8:30 PM Kazakh Khanate: Diamond Sword




From Market to the State: the Politics of State Ownership and Control in Russia and Kazakhstan @ Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412
Mar 9 @ 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Why are some authoritarian regimes motivated to increase state control over the economy while driving out the private sector?
Informed by scholarly discussion regarding the rise of state capitalism in the developing world, this presentation will provide a fresh perspective on the political logic of nationalistic economic policies in authoritarian regimes. Using power politics in economic policy-making as a framework, it explains why the political power and stability that authoritarian regimes aspire to achieve leads to increased state control in key sectors of the economy. It also explores how these motives end up shaping an economically inefficient, yet politically stable economic system. Based on a detailed analysis of the post-soviet economies of Russia and Kazakhstan under presidents Putin and Nazarbaev, this presentation argues that the rise of such statist economic policies since 2000 does not stem from either economic modernization or internal fighting between domestic factions over property, as is usually argued in the literature.
Bekzod Zakirov is a second-year PhD student and research assistant at the Graduate School of Public Policy, Tokyo University. He obtained his BL and LLM from Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University, Japan. He was a visiting fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy at Westminster University, UK.