Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ethnic Kazakhs Returning from Abroad Accelerating Ethnic Russian Flight

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 1 – Ethnic Kazakhs returning to their homeland republic, a group of people known there as oralmans, are accelerating ethnic Russian flight from Kazakhstan both because of their more intensely held nationalist views and because of their desire to take the places ethnic Russian currently occupy.

            That is one of the conclusions offered by Moscow commentator Vitaly Karyukov on the basis of conversations with ethnic Russians who have left Kazakhstan or are thinking about leaving in the near future, two groups that appear to be increasingly rapidly in size (svpressa.ru/society/article/199166/).

            A year ago, Kazakh experts projected a new and larger wave of Russian departures (stoletie.ru/rossiya_i_mir/russkije_pokidajut_kazahstan_428.htm), and the numbers since then bear those predictions out: more than 23,000 ethnic Russians left Kazakhstan in 2017, often surveys show not for economic reasons but because of “everyday nationalism.” 

            Russians say, Karyukov continues, “that the oralmans are distinguished by particularly strongly held Russophobic attitudes” on their return to Kazakhstan from other former Soviet republics, Mongolia, China “and even Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.” Oralmans, ordinary Russians say, dislike Russians more than Kazakhs who have lived in the republic for years. 

            Not long ago, Russians in Kazakhstan recall that they made up 49 percent of the population, more even than the Kazakhs. Now, they make up fewer than 20 percent, and they say that “over the last three years, the number of those leaving or wanting to leave has only grown” with many having to wait in line at Russian consulates for a year or more.

            One Kazakh Russian told Karyukov that “if we could all at once go to Russia and get ourselves settled there, more than 90 percent” of the ethnic Russians left in Kazakhstan would “beyond question” choose to do so. Unfortunately, the Russian government isn’t doing as much as it could to help.

            Young Russians are departing in particularly large numbers, Russians in Kazakhstan say, because they see no future for themselves there: “Among bureaucrats, state employees and major businesses, Kazakhs form 95 percent of the employees; among the siloviki, their share is 99 percent.

            Russians who remain in Kazakhstan work primarily in privately owned structures, but even in these places, ethnic Kazakhs are now the bosses. That has led Russians to despair with one saying to the Svobodnaya pressa journalist, “I do not see a future [here] for myself and my grandchildren.”

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