Friday, May 28, 2021

Internationalist Parties Won't Work in Kazakhstan, Analysts There Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 26 – In response to the rise of nationalism in Kazakhstan over the last few years, several political movements have emerged there promoting internationalism; but experts in that country are expressing skepticism that such groups have any future, with some insisting that internationalist parties have never worked anywhere and won’t in Kazakhstan.

            Saule Isabayeva of the Q Monitor portal spoke with four experts about internationalism and the future of any “internationalist” party in Kazakhstan. All four were extremely skeptical about the possible rise of such groups and many suggested they reflect only Soviet nostalgia and current Kremlin meddling (

            Amirzhan Kosapov, an opposition politician, says that too much attention is paid to issues of inter-ethnic relations in Kazakhstan. Most people are tolerant and an atmosphere of internationalism thus exists without any need for a separate party promoting it. Indeed, he says, except for the elderly, internationalism is a discredited term because of its use in Soviet times.

            Any revival of attention to the idea almost certainly reflects the activities of “neo-imperialistically concerned forces in neighboring Russia,” Kosapov says.

            Urazgali Selteyev, head of the Kazakh Institute for Eurasian Integration, says that there has not been any explosive growth in nationalism in Kazakhstan despite some media hype there and in Russia about the phenomenon. And there won’t be any party promoting it as its core message: the government wouldn’t register such a party, and no one would vote for it anyway.

            Viktor Kovtunovsky, an ethnic Russian political scientist in Kazakhstan, says bluntly “nowhere in the world have there been any successful parties” which have adopted internationalism as their program. Rejecting national traditions is “insufficient” for forming “a powerful political force.”

            He argues that the only alternative to the nation state would be an orientation toward collective “humanist values that are internationalist by their nature” as shown by what is being promoted and institutionalized in the European Union.

            And Miras Nurmukhanbetov, an independent journalist, says that in his view, “nothing could would come from the development” of any internationalist movement in Kazakhstan. Internationalism is “a purely Soviet concept” that discredited itself, and there is today no strong nationalist movement that groups promoting that idea could work against.

            The only reason such groups might appear, he continues, is that the Kremlin wants to undermine the stability of Kazakhstan, a real possibility but one that the powers that be and the population almost certainly will work hard to block.

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