Staunton, July 23 – Kyrgyzstan has the reputation of one of the most welcoming republics as far as ethnic Russians are concerned and is one of the few where Russian citizens can enter and remain without getting a visa. As a result, some 4,000 Russians upset with Putin’s war in Ukraine have moved there to await events.
But because a sizeable share of them are highly paid IT professionals, they are sparking anger among their Kyrgyz counterparts and that in turn is leading to a rise in anti-Russian and even anti-Moscow attitudes in that Central Asian country (stanradar.com/news/full/50061-russkim-v-kirgizii-nado-gotovitsja-k-neprijatnostjam.html).
As a result, what Kyrgyz and ethnic Russians in the past called “velvet Russophobia” is becoming ever less soft; and so, the StanRadar portal says, “ethnic Russians in Kyrgyzstan must be prepared for problems.” The longer the war in Ukraine goes on and the more ethnic Russians move to Kyrgyzstan, the greater the likelihood of this trend will be.
At present, there is no sign that the Kyrgyz are ready to attack ethnic Russians the way that they have attacked Chinese merchants, but such violence is not excluded. Nor is excluded that Bishkek, long assumed to be in Moscow’s corner no matter what, may change sides on some issues as Kazakhstan has done.
At the very least, Kyrgyzstan society is in motion on attitudes toward Russians and Russia, a development that needs to be carefully tracked and yet another example of the collateral damage that Putin’s war in Ukraine has inflicted on Russians there and ultimately on himself as well.