Staunton, June 1 – Russian commentators often talk about how non-Russians can and should assimilate to the Russian nation, but they rarely discuss the possibility that ethnic Russians could assimilate to other nations especially when it comes to members of those communities on the territory of former Soviet republics.
Not only would any such discussion call into question Vladimir Putin’s insistence that most of these nations are artificial, but it would exacerbate fears of Russians in Russia itself that their national identity is not nearly as strong as they want to believe and that some of their number abroad could eventually become non-Russians.
That makes an interview with a Kazakhstan analyst presented by Moscow commentator Bogdan Bezpalko especially interesting (regnum.ru/news/polit/3613035.html). In it, the analyst who spoke on conditions of anonymity said that ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan thought they could save themselves by withdrawing into national “ghettos.”
“But Kazakh ideologues,” he continues, “are already moving on to the net stage, the gradual introduction of the term ‘Kazakhs of Russian origin,’” one they hope will “come to replace the objectively obsolete” division between ethnic Kazakhs and ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan.
As a result, the Kazakhstan analyst says, we “have a unique situation: in a country where some 3.5 million ethnic Russians live, there has no been and I am sure will not be any pro-Russian protest.” There is no one to lead it, and no one prepared to follow it, except for imprisoned activist Ermek Taychibekov.
Before being sent to prison for a decade, Taychibekov said that “the Kazakhs are very far-sighted in this respect: they ar cooking the Russian frog very slowly” and thus not frightening him to the point of leading him to jump out of the soon to boil water. Instead, they have become “victims of the Stockholm syndrome” and insist that everyone remain calm about their situation.
Those Russians, the anonymous analyst says, are now going further: they are insisting in scripts written for them by the Kazakh authorities, that their lives will get better and better as long as Russia keeps quiet about their case and does not extend its “’dirty imperial paws’” into Kazakhstan.
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