Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How Bad are Things in Russia? An Entire Russian Village Wants to Join Kazakhstan

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 24 – Tens of thousands of ordinary Russians have voted with their feet in response to the deteriorating conditions in their homeland and moved abroad, but the residents of a Russian village in Omsk Oblast have another idea: they want the border between Russia and Kazakhstan redrawn so that they will no longer be part of the former but rather part of the latter.

            The village, Dubanovka, is situated approximately 140 kilometers from the city of Omsk, Anton Zakharov of Radio Liberty reports. “The last 17 are unpaved: one can only go on them when there is a freeze or a dry spell.” Residents joke, he says, that portion of the highway is where “civilization ends together with the road” (ru.krymr.com/a/29188964.html).

                “We don’t have any roads or a store or a school or water or in general anything. They’ve thrown us here to our fate,” local people say; and so a group of them have appealed to the Russian authorities to transfer their village from Russian control to that of Kazakhstan.  The leader of the movement says he’s sure the situation there “won’t be worse” and might be better.

            There are about 50 houses in the village, and the children have to travel 17 kilometers to school. Postal service is irregular, and emergency services are late if they bother to come at all.  Getting out from under this Russian fate thus looks attractive, Zakharov reports, but few villagers expect it will happen.

            They’ve asked Russian officials for help but have been ignored, and since the 1990s, they haven’t been able to cross into Kazakhstan because the border is under lock and key. Improving the road to the oblast center would be a good thing, the villagers say; but being under different kinds of rulers would be even better.

            At least, that is what the residents of Dubanovka have been driven to believe. 

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