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The Russian question in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a country with many different nationalities and ethnic groups, so not all Kazakhstanis are ethnic Kazakhs. We have groups like the Russian, Ukrainian, German, Tatar, Turk, Chechen, Kurdish etc. It is quite easy to distinguish ethnic Kazakhs from Kazakhstan’s citizens who are from different ethnic minorities, except for those that have mixed heritage. A large portion of ethnic minorities in our country are people with European, Caucasian, or Middle Eastern features. Kazakhs are noticeably different in physical appearance when compared to the above-mentioned ethnicities.

Yet Kazakhstan has been free of inter-ethnic conflicts for the last three decades. The explanation lies in political choices having been made and still being made by Kazakhstan’s leadership. Astana has been commended by foreign politicians, statesmen, state institutions and international organizations for its work in promoting inter-ethnic tolerance among young people and society as a whole.
RuBaltic.Ru, in an article by Andrey Mamykin entitled «Русский вопрос в Казахстане» – «The Russian question in Kazakhstan» and published on 31 February 2018, said: «Roman Y. Vasilenko, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, is an ethnic Russian. He was born in Chimkent, but his native language is Russian. And it occurred to me that it is quite inconceivable to imagine an ethnic Russian holding such a high office in the Foreign Ministry of Latvia. The Kazakhs aren’t at all obsessed with the idea to combat a minority population, and notwithstanding the importance of preserving Kazakh language and culture, the doors of Kazakhstan’s public administration are open to non-Kazakh citizens all the way up to highest levels».
There is, however, another viewpoint on this situation. As the saying goes, you’ll never be able to please everyone. Well, here’s another opinion on this subject.
Komsomolskaya Pravda, in an article by Ulyana Skoybeda entitled «Нерусские русские: что будет, если дать гражданство России всем, кто живет на территории бывшей империи?» – «Non-Russian Russians: what would happen if we grant Russian citizenship to everyone who lives on the territory of the former empire?» and published on 3 May 2017, quoted Yury Moskovsky as saying: «Belonging to the Russian world is to be determined in conformity with self-identification: a person considers himself or herself to be a member of the Russian world – he or she is one of our own.
For us, Russians, family relationships do not really mean very much: our community is not bound by blood – it is bound by agricultural, i.e. neighborly ties.
That’s an entirely different matter, if the population of Ukraine and Belorussia are considered to be Russians. There is such an idea: «One people – three countries: Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation» … Plus Kazakhstan, because there is a very large diaspora…
Belorussia made Russian a state language, Kazakhstan didn’t, and half of the population immediately became second-class people there. Well, people do not want to live in such a situation …»
What does one have to say about that? There are those who only see what they want to see. Well, that can’t be helped.
For reference: Andrey Mamykin, or Andrejs Mamikins, is a Latvian politician and journalist and a Member of the European Parliament. Before being elected, he was a journalist working for several Latvian Russian-language newspapers, radio stations and television channels. He studied Russian language and literature and is a graduate of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Latvia. Mamykin was elected to the European Parliament at the 2014 European Parliament election for the Harmony party. When he filed his declaration of financial interests in the European Parliament in mid-2014, this was promptly refused on the grounds that Russian is not an official language of the European Union. Mamykin publicized the incident on social media, making waves in Latvia’s ethnic-Russian community. The Russian speakers make up about 35 percent of his home country’s population.
Yury Moskovsky is a historian, sociologist, political scientist and a former executive secretary of the Public Council under the Moscow Department of the Federal Migration. He is also one of the authors of the idea of granting Russian citizenship to everyone who lives on the territory of the former empire and speaks Russian.

Aziz AYHAN


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