Staunton, November 6 – Today, Vladimir Putin met with Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Orenburg to discuss the demarcation of the border between the two countries as well as more general issues of cooperation. Not surprisingly, media outlets across the Russian Federation has used this as a hook to report on Kazakhstan and Kazakhs.
Most are the kind of boosterism typically associated with such events and precisely the kind of thing that the Kremlin certainly welcomes. But not all – and the fate of one shows what happens when journalists especially beyond the ring road overstep the bounds and report things the center doesn’t want reported, especially when Putin is promoting a different message.
The Astrakhan news agency AST-News published a story quoting Kazakhs living in that southern Russian city – they number approximately 23,000 and form just over five percent of the city’s population – to the effect that two-thirds of this ethnic group have become less interested in using Kazakh over the last two or three years (ast-news.ru/node/dve-treti-astrakhanskikh-etnicheskikh-kazakhov-ne-znayut-rodnogo-yazyka/).
That is the same period during which Putin has been promoting the use of Russian over non-Russian in the schools of the Russian Federation; but it is certain that he and his regime do not want foreign leaders to recognize that what is being done to the indigenous population of the Russian Federation is also being done to those who come from abroad, in this case, Kazakhstan.
A few hours after the report was posted online, it was taken down and is now not available at the AST-News site. But as Putin has yet to learn, in the age of the Internet, nothing really ever disappears completely; and so both the existence of this article and what is says about Russia today is something even the Kremlin can’t expunge.