Analysts say Kazakhstan has now entered a period of treacherous transition -- but Tokayev has emerged victorious in round one. As the city of Almaty echoed to the sound of gunfire on January 5, Tokayev abandoned the moderate tone he'd used when the protests began, and launched -- in effect -- a palace coup.
His swift action was all the more surprising because Tokayev was widely seen as an urbane technocrat still beholden to Nazarbaev, who hand-picked him as his successor in 2019. Kate Mallinson, central Asia analyst with the London-based political risk group Prism, said the swift move against Nazarbaev allies "came as a shock. In Kazakhstan everything is bureaucracy -- but not this time."