- Бизнес & Қоғам
- 19 Шілде, 2018
Pyotr Svoik: Kazakhstani Russians are already half Kazakhs
Sayasat.org, in an article by Assel IKHSANOVA entitled «Быть ли казахорусу?» – «Is KazakhoRussian going to become a reality?» said the following.
«The ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan have developed a kind of special mentality, which’s different from that of the Russian Federation’s Russians. This is a sure thing evidenced by the fact that the Kazakhstani Russians are experiencing difficulties in adapting to life in Russia. There are a lot of stories relating to this kind of situation. There are also many instances when some of the Kazakhstani Russians are returning to Kazakhstan because of having been unable to adapt to the realities of Russian society. Their otherness is further highlighted by the fact that immigrants from Kazakhstan are called «Kazakhs» in Russia. So, who actually is he, a Kazakhstani Russian? What made him different from the Russian Federation’s Russians? Can it be said that the kind of otherness in question is based on cultural and attitudinal peculiarities? These are the questions we put to the public and political figures.
The environment, where people live a long time, have had an impact on them
According to Andrei CHEBOTAREV, the director of the center for topical studies «Alternative», there are many differences between the Kazakhstani Russians and the Russian Federation’s Russians, which is a natural result of the continued residency of those people in Kazakhstan. «Our distinctive characteristics, in my opinion, are openness, a positive attitude towards the Kazakhs and other ethnic groups, and the fact that we have adopted some of their material and spiritual values. So, we are listening Kazakh fairy tales, reading them in our childhood. We are watching many Kazakh movies with interest. We are happy to eat baursak (a Kazakh national doughnut), beshbarmak (a traditional Kazakh dish), kazy (a traditional sausage-like Kazakh food), etc. Our interethnic social circle is wide. However, the majority of the local Russians do not speak Kazakh. Of course, each one of them has his own explanation for this. Nevertheless, the factor of the Russian-speaking environment, which has become natural and habitual for most Kazakhstanis, is generally a key reason why they do not learn to use the state language of the nation. Another sensitive topic for the ethnically Russian citizens is emigration, mainly to Russia. I think that the first wave of this process in the 1990’s mainly consisted of people, who had arrived to Kazakhstan from Russia and the other former Soviet republics under labor assignments or other circumstances at different times, and members of their families. But over the last 2-3 years, it was apparently the Kazakh-born Russians who were already and actively leaving. The social and economic problems (lack of regular and well-paid employment, prospects for children, etc.) predominate among the reasons that explain their emigration. But many of those people are leaving with a certain degree of regret and great warmth for Kazakhstan, which has been and remains - deep inside them - their homeland. As life experience and various researches have shown, Russians, living for a long time in Kazakhstan and other countries, that is, away from their historic home country, succeed in preserving and developing their native language and culture on a conscious or unconscious basis. And, for me, this is what makes us mostly different in Russia, especially in the Russian backwoods. The Kazakh-born Russians are also more likely to intermarry than the Russian Federation’s Russians. There are yet some distinct differences between them in matters such as intercommunication, hospitality, attitude to people of other ethnicities, etc. By the way, regionalism is a serious factor that draws some lines among Russians from Russia. For objective reasons, the Kazakhstani Russians are devoid of this, which makes our ethnic community a quite cohesive entity. The other thing to be said here is that a large part of Russia’s population has been and remains politically loyal to the central government mainly due to external factors. The country is witnessing a process of rallying around the authorities in the face of economic sanctions, all sorts of political and military demarches by the West. The Russians in Kazakhstan, for the most part, are loyal to the country’s leadership due to its policy of maintaining inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony. Of course, all these characteristics are not applicable to every Russian in Kazakhstan and every Russian in Russia without any exceptions. But cases where our former fellow citizens, who have migrated to the Russian Federation, are often being called Kazakhs by the locals are in large part attributable precisely to the above-mentioned peculiarities rooted in the mind and behavior of the Kazakh-born Russians. The environment where people live a long time, have had an impact on them. This is all the more true for the third, fourth (and so on) generation Kazakhstanis.
The Russians in Kazakhstan, for the most part, are loyal to the country’s leadership due to its policy of maintaining inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony.
«Kazakhstani Russians are already half Kazakhs»
According to Pyotr SVOIK, the main tie that binds Russians together regardless of their environment and region of residence is a single cultural basis that neutralizes mental differences. «On the one hand, one can agree and confirm that Kazakhstan’s Russians slightly differ from Russia’s Russians in terms of mentality. But I’d call it more a secondary indicator. What matters first for me, is that Kazakhstan’s Russians, Russia’s Russians and Kazakhstan’s Kazakhs (this is a large part of the urban indigenous population) are bound to the rest of the Russian Federation’s population by shared culture, language and by a single information area. And in this sense, the distinctiveness to a certain degree peculiar to the Kazakhstani Russians are very much similar to an analogous distinctiveness peculiar to the Far Eastern Russians or Caucasian Russians and to the Far East Ukrainian Russians. It is clear that the ethnicities have intermingled. The ethnic populations are quite much intermingled because of the very large number of mixed marriages. Accordingly, the Russians, dispersed on all this space, are, for instance, closely connected with the Caucasians in the Caucasus, and here in Kazakhstan, Russians and Kazakhs have been molded as almost one people. At least, this is true for those considering the Russian as their native language. It is very important that the upbringing and perception of life are based on the language. And that goes for the Kazakhstani Russians as much as for most Kazakhs.
Kazakhstani Russians are already half Kazakhs. First, many of them are just intermingled with Kazakhs. A lot of Kazakh traditions are being unwittingly adopted by the local Russians, and integrated into their everyday life.
As the statehood in Kazakhstan is, largely and in fact, built on the ethnic principle, Russians are having some kind of double vision towards Kazakhstan as their country of residence, homeland and as a state. If what is meant is a country of residence, then yes, it’s your country, as you were born here, as you live a comfortable life in community with Kazakhs here. But as far as statehood is concerned, there are nuances. After all, that’s not our statehood, that’s a statehood pertaining to Kazakhs. There is a certain degree of difference.
Of course, those who have left Kazakhstan and settled somewhere in Tambov or Orel region experience a kind of alienation. But people are leaving because there is a certain amount of apprehension about the strengthening of nationalism among the Kazakhs. It is not manifested openly in society, but there are fears that the nationalist trend would increase, once Nazarbayev leaves the scene, all the more so because there are already some signs in this regard. One example of this is the case of switching to the Latin alphabet which is addressed not only to those who speak and write in Kazakh, but to the entire population. This is a political message. It seems to suggest the following – we are moving away. Such signals are being taken seriously, and people instinctively understand the particularity of the situation and begin - without hurrying and panicking - to concentrate on returning to their historical homeland. Kazakhstani Russians are already half Kazakhs. First, many of them are just intermingled with Kazakhs. Second, in any case those, living permanently in Kazakhstan, have a good knowledge of Kazakh. A lot of Kazakh traditions are being unwittingly adopted by the local Russians, and integrated into their everyday life. Quite similarly, Kazakhs are becoming Russified in terms of culture and customs. There is some kind of symbiotic relationship».
(To be continued)