RUSSIANS IN KAZAKHSTAN
Russians are the largest minority in Kazakhstan. The status of the Russians, whose number includes many irreplaceable technical experts, has been one of Kazakhstan's burning post-Soviet issues. The government for a long time resisted making Russian an official second language, although Russian is understood by most Kazakhs and used in most official communications. Now it is an official language. In May 1996, a treaty established the status of Kazakh and Russian citizens in Russia and Kazakhstan, respectively, ending a long disputed aspect of the nationality issue. [Source: Glenn E. Curtis, Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
Number of Russians (and their percentage of the total population) in Kazakhstan: 3,974,000 in 1959 (42.7 percent); 5,521,000 in 1970 (42.4 percent); 5,991,000 in 1979 (40.8 percent); 6,227,000 in 1989 (37 percent); 4,479,000 in 1999–2000 (30 percent); Approx. 4,000,000 in 2007. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2006]
At the time of Kazakhstan’s independence in 1991, Russians outnumbered Kazakhs. But Russian exoduses and relatively high Kazakh birthrates have changed that. Now Kazakhs outnumber Russians by more than two to one.
Russians have traditionally lived in the north and in the urban areas. In the north, Russians outnumber Kazakhs four to one. Many of Kazakhstan's northern industrial towns are inhabited primarily by Russians. These towns, and Almaty in southern Kazakhstan, began as fortified Cossack villages.
According to the 2009 national census Russians made up 24 percent of the population of Kazakhstan. According to the 1999 census, they made up 30 percent. Ukrainians made up 3.7 percent. In 1994, Russians made up 36 percent of Kazakhstan’s population. In 1991, when the Soviet Union broke u and Kazakhstan became independent, the Kazakh and Russian populations were approximately equal. Christians — mostly Russian Orthodox — make up 26.2 percent of the population. The Russian Orthodox Church is the dominant Christian denomination in Kazakhstan. By tradition Russians are Russian Orthodox. The number of Russian Orthodox churches increased from 62 in 1988 to 225 in 2002.
Russians in Central Asia
The Russians and Ukrainians and other Slavs that live in Central Asia arrived in several waves. The first came in the 19th century after the serfs were freed. Many arrived in the 1950s and 60s, particularly in Kazakhstan, during the Virgin Land campaign. The number of Russians as a percentage of the population rose from 2 percent of Uzbekistan’s population in 1917 to 13.5 percent in 1950 and fell to 8.3 percent in 1989.
Russians in Central Asia tend to live in enclaves and dominate certain cities, towns or neighborhoods. They make up a much smaller percentage of the population in all five Central Asian countries than they do on other Soviet republics. This is explained by the exodus of Russians and higher birthrate among the Central Asians.
Some two million Russians in Central Asia returned to Russia after the the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some of the ethnic Russians who fled Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakstan said they dis so because ultra-nationalism there made life "unbearable for non-natives." Many Russians who left for Russia have since returned. Some did so because they found the going tougher there than in Central Asia.
Of the more than eight million former Soviet citizens taken in by Russia between 1990 and 2003, half came from the five Central Asian republics—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—which were home to more than one third of this Russian “diaspora.” Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “ Russians made up nearly 20 percent of the total population of these five states: some 9.5 million individuals in 1989. But their presence was not evenly distributed, and each state faced a unique domestic situation...Though their situations were diverse, the five states nonetheless had to manage a similar problem: how to affirm a “de-Russified” national identity in the wake of local economic collapse, which occurred as bonds among the former Soviet republicsbroke, and how to do so without integrating into the larger post-Soviet space. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007]
See Separate Articles RUSSIANS IN CENTRAL ASIA factsanddetails.com ; MIGRATION OF RUSSIANS IN AND OUT CENTRAL ASIA factsanddetails.com
Russians in the Former Soviet Union
About 20 million Russians live outside of Russia in the former Soviet republics. The greatest number are in 1) the Ukraine (11.4 million); 2) Kazakhstan (6.2 million); 3) Uzbekistan (1.7 million); and 4) Belarus (1.3 million).
Russians once made up more than 20 percent of the population in smaller republic such as Estonia, Latvia and Kyrgyzstan. The percentage in these places is much lower now as many Russians have resettled to escape discrimination and anti-Russian sentiment.
By 1995, about 2.5 million Russians had moved back to Russia. The Russian government worried that Russia would be flooded with Russian returnees and was not forthcoming with the documentation necessary to live in Russia. Russians that had high-prestige jobs in the former Soviet republics were replaced by locals and were found they were not welcome in Russia. They were unable to get residence permits and were forced to work as illegal immigrants.
The increased numbers of Russians arriving from other CIS nations create both logistical and political problems. As in the case of non-Russian refugees, statistical estimates of intra-CIS migration vary widely, partly because Russia has not differentiated that category clearly from the refugee category and partly because actual numbers are assumed to be much higher than official registrations indicate. Many newly arrived Russians (like non-Russians) simply settle with friends or relatives without official registration. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]
Most Russians live in — and have traditionally lived in — Northern Kazakhstan, a vast area of steppe with some areas converted to agriculture and forests similar to those in Siberia. For centuries it was the domain of Scythians, Mongols, Kazakhs, other nomadic horsemen, sheep, wolves, and antelope. All that changed when the Russians and later the Soviets tried to make it into the breadbasket of Central Asia.
A million or so Russian, Ukrainian and Slavic peasants moved into the area in the late 19th century. More arrived, along with Tatars and ethnic Germans, during the Stalin purges in the 1930s. More came to work in gulags, mines and factories. Hundreds of thousands or more came in the 1950s and 60s as part of the Virgin Lands campaign, a center of the Soviet effort to bring agriculture to the barren steppe.. While all this was happening hundreds of thousands of Kazakhs died or fled during the forced collectivization and purges in the 1920s and 30s.
Not surprisingly, northern Kazakhstan is the most Russian and Slavic part of Kazakhstan. In addition to influx of Russians borders, northern Kazakhstan was further Russified when Soviet leaders had the border redrawn to dilute the Kazakh population in the 1920s. Despite many shortcomings of plans to develop the area for agriculture, northern Kazakhstan is an important wheat-growing region and Kazakhstan’s breadbasket. Astana Oblast covers 121,000 square kilometers (46,700 square miles). It has a large Russian population of any Kazakhstan province.
Russians and Kazakhs
Russians have traditionally regarded Kazakhs as “little brothers.” This sentiment can be viewed as both affectionate and condescending. To Russians, most of whom live in northern Kazakhstan within a day's drive of Russia proper, Kazakhstan is an extension of the Siberian frontier and a product of Russian and Soviet development. To most Kazakhs, these Russians are usurpers. Of Kazakhstan's Russian residents in the 1990s, 38 percent were born outside the republic, while most of the rest were second-generation Kazakhstani citizens. *
Kazakhs have traditionally been relatively pro-Russian. Even after independence these sentiments endured. The capital was moved from Almaty to Astana, in predominately Russian northern Kazakhstan; the Russian army was allowed to set up bases o Kazakhstan .
Russians lobbied hard and eventually won the right for Russian to be an official language along with Kazakh. They also wanted dual citizenship in Kazakhstan and Russia. In a 1991 referendum, a majority of people in Kazakhstan — including many Kazakhs — voted to remain in the Soviet Union. Many people want Russian to be the first language.
Outflow of Non-Kazakhs and Inflow of Kazakhs to Kazakhstan
In the early 1990s, the republic experienced a pronounced outflow of citizens, primarily non-Kazakhs moving to other former Soviet republics. Although figures conflict, it seems likely that as many as 750,000 non-Kazakhs left the republic between independence and the end of 1995. Official figures indicate that in the first half of 1994 some 220,400 people left, compared with 149,800 in the same period of 1993. In 1992 and 1993, the number of Russian emigrants was estimated at 100,000 to 300,000. Such out-migration was not uniform. Some regions, such as Qaraghandy, lost as much as 10 percent of their total population, resulting in shortages of technicians and skilled specialists in that heavily industrial area. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
To some extent, the outflow has been offset by in-migration, which has been of two types. Kazakhstan's government has actively encouraged the return of Kazakhs from elsewhere in the former Soviet Union and from China and Mongolia. Unlike other ethnic groups, ethnic Kazakhs are granted automatic citizenship. More than 60,000 Kazakhs emigrated from Mongolia in 1991-94, their settlement — or resettlement — eased by government assistance. Most were moved to the northern provinces, where the majority of Kazakhstan's Russian population lives. Because these "Mongol Kazakhs" generally do not know Russian and continue to pursue traditional nomadic lifestyles, the impact of their resettlement has been disproportionate to their actual numbers. *
In 1994, at the height of the Russian exodus out of Kazakhstan, 280,000 Russians migrated out, mostly to Russia. The exodus has robbed Kazakhstan of talented managers and technical people. One Russian man told the New York Times, “Many highly-skilled specialists are leaving for better salaries in Russia or to emigrate to Germany. Everything is getting worse.”
Russians Migration Out Picks Up in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “ In 2000, migration from Kazakhstan alone constituted more than 28 percent of the internal migration in former Soviet territory. The Russians did not leave alone; more than three-fifths of the German population, nearly two-fifths of the Ukrainians, and nearly a quarter of the Poles left as well. Thus, in Kazakhstan between 1989 and 1999, the number of Germans fell from 946,000 to 353,000, Ukrainians from 875,000 to547,000, and Poles from 61,100 to 47,200. This phenomenon affected each of the republics differently. In terms of emigration, Kazakhstan posts the highest figures, whether compared to the other states of Central Asia or to the whole Commonwealth of Independent States. Between 1989 and 1999, Russians decreased in number from 6 million to 4.5 million, or from 40 percent to 30 percent of the population of the republic, with an average departure per year of 150,000 individuals. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
“According to 2006 figures, there are now fewer than four million Russians in Kazakhstan. In the first half of the 1990s, departing Russians came principally from the southern and western areas of the country, where residents are mainly ethnic Kazakhs. Some migrations were internal, as Russians from the south, or even from nearby republics such as Uzbekistan, relocated to the Slavic areas in the north. In the second half of the decade, the majority-Slavic regions in the north, and east of Kazakhstan also began to lose population. Proportionally, the out-migration of Russians was more pronounced in the southern and western areas, which lost approximately 35 percent of their population, than in the others, which lost approximately 25 percent. Though the departures in the traditionally Russian north and east were smaller, the transformations caused by the exodus of European minorities also touched these regions. The Astana region lost 122,000 people, or 24 percent of its population; North Kazakhstan region, 186,000, or 20 percent; and Karaganda region, 335,000, or 19 percent. Today, whole districts in large cities such as Pavlodar, where a third of the population left, stand entirely unused. In the center of the country, the satellite mining cities of Karaganda are partly abandoned.”^^
Russian Language in Kazakhstan
The other major source of in-migration has been non-Kazakhs arriving from other parts of Central Asia to avoid inhospitable conditions; most of these people also have settled in northern Kazakhstan. Although officially forbidden and actively discouraged, this in-migration has continued. In a further attempt to control in-migration, President Nazarbayev decreed that no more than 5,000 families would be permitted to take up residence in the republic in 1996. *
Kazakh and Russian are official languages for commercial purposes. Kazakh, spoken by 64.4 percent of the population, is the official “state” language, and Russian, spoken by 95 percent of the population, is designated as the “language of interethnic communication” and is used in everyday business. In 2006 President Nazarbayev proposed that Kazakhstan switch from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet. [Source: Library of Congress, December, 2006 **]
According to a 2003 study, Only 3 percent of Russians in Kazakhstan speak Kazakh well, 23 percent speak it with some difficulty, and 74 percent do not speak it at all. According to some researchers, only 14 percent of Russians in Kazakhstan can speak Kazakh. Even among “ethnic” Russian civil servants, whom the law officially obliges to be speakers of the national language, Kazakh-language ability remains irregular. Fifty-five percent understand parts of sentences and 22 percent admit that they neither speak nor understand Kazakh. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
The Russification program in Kazakhstan was successful. Many Kazakhs speak Russian better than Kazakh. Kazakh first became a state language in the late Soviet period, when few of the republic's Russians gave serious thought to the possibility that they might need Kazakh to retain their employment, to serve in the armed forces, or to have their children enter a Kazakhstani university. At that point, fewer than 5 percent of Russians could speak Kazakh, although the majority of Kazakhs could speak Russian. However, with the separation between Russia and Kazakhstan that followed independence, Russian nationalist sentiment and objections to alleged discrimination in official language policies have increased, especially in the north, as Russians have felt the threat of Kazakh becoming the sole legal state language. Meanwhile, Kazakhs have strongly defended the preeminence of their tongue, although mastery of the language is far from universal even among Kazakhs. According to some estimates, as much as 40 percent of the Kazakh population is not fluent in Kazakh. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “The Kazakh language has encountered difficulty finding its place, even with the Kazakh population, which is largely Russophone. Language issues became particularly politicized there, as state bodies attempted to impose the supremacy of Kazakh over Russian with mixed results. To institute the use of Kazakh in public administration, the government promulgated the Design of the Linguistic Policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, promulgated in 1996, the Law on the Languages in the Republic of Kazakhstan of July 11, 1997, and the State Program on the Operation and Development of Languages for the Decade 2001–2010. Yet development of the Kazakh language only succeeded in areas where Kazakhs already constituted a large majority of the population—the western and southernmost parts of the republic. The central administration in Astana officially uses Kazakh; however, everyday life in urban settings and among civil servants remains dominated by Russian. In spite of real progress, the authorities admit to lacking sufficient qualified cadres capable of speaking only in Kazakh without switching to Russian.”
Kazakh Versus Russian Languages in Kazakhstan
Official state language is a contentious issue in Kazakhstan. The 1995 constitution stipulates Kazakh and Russian as state languages. Russian is the primary language in business, science, and academia but all citizens are expected to pass a Kazakh language test if they wish to work for government or state bodies. The Non-Kazakh population exerts pressure against requirements for use of Kazakh fo all encompassing official language.
Russian is widely spoken in urban areas and often used by members of different ethnic groups to communicate with one another. Kazakh is spoken more widely in the countryside among ethnic Kazakhs. Most Kazakhs can speak both Kazakh and Russian and many speak Russian as there first language. Both languages are taught in schools. Some emphasize Kazakh, others Russian. There has traditionally been a large variety of both Russian-language and Kazakh-language publications and radio and television broadcasts. But Russian dominates commerce and science.
Even those who are fluent find Kazakh a difficult language to work with in science, business, and some administrative settings because it remained largely a "kitchen" language in Soviet times, never developing a modern technical vocabulary. Nor has there been extensive translation of technical or popular literature into Kazakh. Thus, for most Kazakhs Russian remains the primary "world language." In fact, President Nazarbayev defended making Kazakh the sole official language on the grounds that decades of Russification had endangered the survival of Kazakh as a language. The practical primacy of Russian is reflected in the schools. Despite efforts to increase the number of schools where Kazakh is the primary language of instruction, Russian appeared to continue its domination in the mid-1990s. In 1990 about twice as many schools taught in Russian as in Kazakh. Although institutions of higher learning now show a strong selection bias in favor of Kazakh students, Russian remains the language of instruction in most subjects. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
The issue of languages is one of the most politicized and contentious in Kazakhstan. The volatility of the language issue has been augmented by Russia's controversial proposals, beginning in 1993, that Kazakhstan's Russians be granted dual citizenship. Although Nazarbayev rejected such a policy, the language controversy prompted him to postpone deadlines for implementation of laws making Kazakh the sole official language. Thus, it is unlikely that most adult non-Kazakhs will have to learn Kazakh. Nevertheless, demographic trends make it probable that the next generation will have to learn Kazakh, a prospect that generates considerable discomfort in the non-Kazakh population. The 1995 constitution does not provide for dual citizenship, but it does alleviate Russian concerns by declaring Russian an official language. That status means that Russian would continue as the primary language of communication for many ethnic Kazakhs, and it will remain acceptable for use in schools (a major concern of Russian citizens) and official documents. *
Russian Education and Media in Kazakhstan
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “According to data released in 2000 by the Ministry of Education, 1.6 million students (50.6 percent of all students in the country) were studying in Kazakh, versus 1.5 million (45 percent) who were studying in Russian. Kazakh-language schools had advanced, although regional distributions between city and country and between north and south were still disproportionate, as southern and rural residents mostly speak Kazakh. Twenty-four percent of nursery schools used the Kazakh language in 2000, and 45 percent used Russian. Among primary and secondary schools, 3,500 out of 8,000 (44 percent) taught in Kazakh, while those that used Russian had decreased to 2,365. There are only about 2,000 schools with bilingual classes, even though several sociological studies indicate that the majority of the population favors them. Although the process of Kazakhization of the education system has proved more complex than authorities expected, it seems that now the future development of the Kazakh language is secure.” [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
In universities “the authorities give priority to Kazakh-language education and clearly support such courses to the detriment of Russian, particularly at the prominent universities in Almaty and Astana. Affirmative action quotas meant to reinforce the Kazakh presence largely have borne fruit. Whereas Kazakhs make up only half the population of the republic, they dominate the ranks of university students and professors. In Turkmenistan, the new government has recently invited famous Russian universities such as the Moscow State University and the Gubkin Institute for Oil and Gas Studies to open affiliates in Ashgabat, perhaps even in time for the 2008 academic year.” ^^
“Newspapers from Russia are increasingly difficult to obtain. In 2001 the legislature toughened exist- ing measures prohibiting the broadcasts of certain television and radio stations based in Russia. Foreign television and radio, which once accounted for 90 percent of the disseminated pro- gramming, no longer had the right to occupy more than 50 percent of total broadcast time as of 2002. In 2003, this maximum was further reduced, to 20 percent. Yet in practice the population has broad access via cable to Russian and local Russophone media, which attempt to circumvent the language laws. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
Tensions Between Russians and Kazakhs
Russians complain that Kazakhs control the government and get picked over them for jobs. There are tensions over which language should be taught in school. One Russian told the Washington Post, “They’re closing Russian schools and forcing Russian children to go to schools in shifts, in already overcrowded classrooms with inferior equipment. Naturally the Russian kids get the feeling they’re being tossed out.”
The Russians get angry if you suggest to them that the Russians did the same things to the Kazakhs when the Soviets were in power. An old Kazakh proverb goes: “If you are friendly with a Russian, take care or have an ax with you.” Ethnic tensions have kept from exploding due to some degree to strong arm tactics and compromises made on the part of Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev. There are worries that racial tensions might explode when Nazarbayev dies or is ousted as the majority Kazakhs try to gain greater control.
Russians view the new capital in Astana as part of campaign to push Russians out of the region. An organization called the Republican Slave Movement was founded to keep Kazakhs from moving in. It achieved little. One Russian who lived in Astana when it was Akmola told the Los Angeles Times, "One Kazakh—he used to be a good neighbor—has asked for my garage. is argument is, 'Look, you'll soon be leaving for Russia, and nobody is going to buy it. so why not just give it t me."
Many Russians in Kazakhstan and Russia are angry with Moscow for ignoring the plight of Kazakhstan’s Russians. Within 24 hours of his landing in Russia famous Russian writer Solzhenitsyn began making bold pronouncements. He called Yeltsin "brainless" and said large chunks of Kazakhstan were actually part of Russia.
Politics and Russians in Kazakhstan
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “Kazakhstan is the only country in the region in which the Russian minority had a true political life in the 1990s. From independence, Russian activists took part in the democratization process, principally within the political party Lad and the association Russkaia Obshchina. In the 1994 regional elections, Lad won up to 80 percent of the local positions in cities demographically dominated by Russians, such as Temirtau, Aksu, Stepnoi gorod, Rudny, and Ust-Kamenogorsk. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
“Yet with the passing of time, the growing repressiveness of the regime led the Russian minority to lose its representation in parliament. In the second half of the 1990s, Lad was content to participate in the various democratic platforms against President Nazarbayev, and suffered strong administrative, political, and legal pressures. Several leaders, forced by threats of violence, have immigrated to Russia. At the beginning of 2000s Lad ceased to exist as an independent political party, while, in the Peoples’ Assembly, the authorities have increasingly co-opted the second most prominent Russian association, the Russkaia Obshchina led by Yuri Bunakov. ^^
“Indeed, the authorities seek to widen the schisms within the representation of the Russians by supporting groups that favor rapprochement with the regime. Thus, in 2004 Lad divided into two movements. The first group, led by Ivan Klimoshenko, remains in the political opposition and supported the “For a Fair Kazakhstan” bloc during the presidential election in December 2005. The other group, led by Sergei Tereshchenko, prefers to pursue a strategy of collaboration with Nazarbayev. In addition, illegal commercial activities, personality clashes between leaders, and political radicalism have discredited the associations in the eyes of the Russian population. Ethnic agendas seemed to play no role in the 2005 presidential election. Nazarbayev received a large proportion of the vote, nearly 95 percent, in North Kazakhstan Region in spite of the numerical significance of Russians there. The “Russian question,” which agitated the republic in the first half of the 1990s, has dropped off the political radar and no longer poses a threat to stability. ^^
Kazakhstan Government and Relations Between Russians and Kazakhs
Sebastien Peyrouse of the Woodrow Wilson Institute wrote: “ Kazakhstan’s declaration of sovereignty, adopted October 25, 1990, affirmed Kazakhs as the “constituent nation of the state,” thus placing other peoples in an ambiguous, “second-class” status. The country’s second constitution, adopted in 1995, also took two positions on the national issue by simultaneously defining Kazakhstan as the state of Kazakhstanis and of ethnic Kazakhs. [Source: Sebastien Peyrouse, “Russian Minority in Central Asia: Migration, Politics, and Language”, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2007 ^^]
“As of the 1994 parliamentary elections, Kazakhs dominated politics, a trend confirmed by the 1999 elections. Of 29 candidates up for reelection to the Senate, five Russians ran but none won. The same year, the new National Assembly counted 55 Kazakhs and 19 Russians, that is to say, proportions of 74 percent and 26 percent. In certain important ministries, such as Justice, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Defense, and Finance, the proportion of non-Kazakhs is now estimated at less than 10 percent. Several sectors, such as the police and special forces, have been Kazakhized since the first years of independence, even since perestroika. The Ministry of Education, strategic in terms of state building, was one of the first affected. The proportion of Russians in the ministry dropped sharply, from 43 percent in 1989 to 14 percent in 1992. Out of 14 regional governors in 2002, only 2 were Russians, those of East Kazakhstan and Kokchetau. The Russians deal particularly poorly with the Kazakhization of the administration in regions where they still constitute the majority. Though spared in the early 1990s, the north of the country thereafter experienced a situation almost identical to that of mainly Kazakh regions.^^
“In Kazakhstan, the Assembly of the Peoples became the principal consultative body for nationality policy decisions in the state. Presided over by Nursultan Nazarbayev, the institution does not hide its close ties to the authorities. It depends directly on the Ministries of Culture, Information, and Social Harmony, and, in practice, the presidential apparatus itself. Its autonomy is therefore extremely restricted. The alleged democratic role of this institution is ambiguous because no elections are involved, that is to say, the authorities appoint its members. They intend to represent all the cultural centers of the minorities of Kazakhstan, as well as the principal religions, namely Islam and the Russian Orthodox Church. ^^
“Other confessional groups, in particular Catholics and Protestants, are excluded. Only half of the members of the Assembly of the Peoples actually work in minority cultural centers; the rest are civil servants responsible for nationality issues. The assembly also has the capacity to smother the “Russian problem,” which was particularly severe in Kazakhstan during the first years of independence. It gives priority to the “little nationalities” of the country, thus allowing to avoid polarization between Russians and Kazakhs. According to official statements of the assembly, the Kazakhstani state should be neither mononational nor binational, but multinational. Thus, the institution blends the “Russian problem” into a broader concept of nationality issues by avoiding Russian-Kazakh polarization such as that experienced in the 1990s.” ^^
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated April 2016