On 8 January 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Nur-Sulta issued a Demonstration Alert regarding upcoming elections, which reads in part as follows:

“Kazakhstan will hold parliamentary elections on Sunday, January 10, 2021. While civil unrest and/or protests are rare, there were protests associated with the country’s last national vote, including some of the largest demonstrations Kazakhstan has seen in 20 years. U.S. citizens should anticipate an increased presence of security forces around the country and may experience road closures and alternate traffic patterns throughout the weekend. Police have the authority to stop individuals without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

“U.S. citizens should prepare for the possibility of spotty internet coverage or the absence of service altogether. On Election Day in 2019, as well as during the lead-up to the vote on days with demonstration activity, some internet users reported that access was intermittently, and at times completely, blocked, including access to VPN services. These outages coincided with protests, eliminating the potential to livestream and share live updates on social media and internet news platforms.

“Non-sanctioned demonstrations usually end with mass arrests. Embassy personnel have been instructed to avoid observing elections-related events (including protests) in person.

“Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests.”

The full text of the alert is available here.