After the announcement of mobilization by Russian President Putin on September 21, a mass of Russians who did not agree to fight with Ukraine poured into Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan has an ambiguous attitude to this phenomenon.
Some Kazakhstanis are dissatisfied with this. And they have reasons for that.
Genetic fear of dissolving into a more numerous nationality. Kazakhs, being nomads, for many centuries in their history owned vast territories, being at the same time a small people. Dzungars, Russians, and others tried to seize the lands of the Kazakhs. It was possible to defeat fast and mobile nomads only by building fortresses and flooding the steppe with settlers. This tactic was used by royal and then Soviet Russia, which caused a quantitative imbalance: there were fewer Kazakhs in Kazakhstan than Russians. Because of this, the Kazakhs almost lost their identity, culture, and language. This postcolonial syndrome is still alive in the Kazakhs, so they are terrified of the numerical superiority of foreigners on their land.
It’s not even about the Russians, but it’s about this fear. Kazakhs are also afraid of the dominance of the Chinese, as a more numerous nation.
Let’s take for example a small neighbor – Kyrgyzstan. If there was a disaster in this country and a lot of people poured out, I think that such a resettlement would not cause such a negative reaction from the Kazakhs, which we see now in relation to the Russians, because the Kyrgyz will not be able to dissolve the Kazakhs in themselves, so from this point of view they are not dangerous.
The second reason.
Russian foreign policy. Russia is now a fascist aggressor state. Therefore, Kazakhstanis have an appropriate attitude to this country. Many of them are convinced that if it were not for the heroic resistance of Ukraine, the logical continuation of Putin’s imperial policy would be an aggressive war with Kazakhstan, the Baltic States, Poland and so on. The negative attitude towards Russian politics subconsciously transferred to ordinary citizens of this country. Even the more civilized and humane European countries, which are now experiencing an increase in Russophobic sentiments, have not escaped such a stereotype.
The third reason.
Many Kazakhstanis perceive visiting Russians as agents of Putin’s imperial policy. After all, it is clear that the migrants of the first wave, who arrived immediately after the beginning of the aggression against Ukraine, were more conscious and oppositional. They left as a sign of disagreement with the war. The second wave of migrants, who arrived after the mobilization was announced, are more against the mobilization itself than against the war. Among them there are many who support the idea of the revival of the Russian Empire, but do not want to sacrifice their own lives for this. That is, if Russia had enough contractors who would have successfully fought with Ukrainians, then these Russians would have stayed at home and even rejoiced at the victories of their country and its expansion to the west.
Such Russians are dangerous for Kazakhstan, since in the event of an aggravation of relations with Russia, they will be an additional force in our rear, assisting our opponent.
The fourth reason.
Negative socio-economic consequences of the influx of a large number of people. The infrastructure of Kazakhstan’s cities is not prepared for an increase in the load, so in some places there are queues at various institutions, an increase in demand and a corresponding increase in prices for housing, goods and products. Socially vulnerable segments of the population feel these consequences: someone has raised the rent for an apartment, someone has been evicted altogether, for someone products have become less accessible. Naturally, unexpected competition for resources causes protest and hostility among this category of citizens.
However, there is another part of the Kazakh society (according to my feelings, it is larger), which is generally favorable to visiting Russians.
They are driven by several motives.
Humane considerations. After all, most of the visitors are simple apolitical citizens of Russia who did not want to fight against anyone, but simply wanted to live in peace and tranquility in their native land. Yes, they do not have enough consciousness and courage to protest against Putin’s authoritarian regime, but in any country, the apolitical mass of people always makes up the overwhelming majority. Remember us in the Nazarbayev period. How many of us went out on the square? Quite a bit. So it is in Russia. The most progressive citizens have already died or are in prison, or have emigrated abroad. Russians fleeing from mobilization now are even more conscious than those who, with pseudo-patriotic enthusiasm, went to fight themselves or who fundamentally stayed at home and are ready to go to the front if called upon.
So most of the current visiting Russians deserve not hatred and reproaches, but compassion and help.
The Kazakh people are famous for compassion and hospitality. These qualities have been genetically embedded in us since the days of the nomadic lifestyle. Any rare traveler who wandered to the Kazakh yurt was a welcome guest, and he was treated to all the best that was in the house. It was even indecent for Kazakhs to ask a guest who he was and why he came before he was fed and watered.
Geopolitical considerations. The majority of Kazakhstanis sympathize with Ukraine in its war with Russia for its independence and wish it a speedy victory, and Putin a shameful defeat and the Hague tribunal. From this point of view, the disruption of Moscow’s mobilization plans and the understaffing of its army will only contribute to the speedy failure of Russia. Therefore, the departure of as many men of mobilization age from Russia as possible is in the hands of all Putin’s opponents.
Economic. The influx of Russians is perceived by many Kazakhstani business owners as an opportunity to receive additional income.
Indeed, hotels, apartment landlords, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers and other types of businesses are now making super profits. Accordingly, the state treasury receives an additional inflow of taxes.
My personal opinion is this.
The arrival of Russians in Kazakhstan should not be hindered. Not letting people in a difficult situation into the house is a departure from our natural essence and universal values.
Moreover, those Russians who found themselves without means of livelihood need to be given all possible assistance, which is already being done by numerous Kazakhstani volunteers at the border and in cities.
Economically vulnerable residents of big cities should not suffer from the arrival of Russians.
The state should take measures for a more even distribution of visitors to the settlements of the country, so as not to create a burden on the infrastructure of megacities. In particular, when registering migrants in PSC, it would be possible to require them to move to small towns and register them only there. It may be necessary to spend public money to transport them to these cities. Such costs would be incomparable with the positive effect of such a measure.
The State needs to take measures to prevent destructive elements from entering the country. We are talking not only about criminal criminals, but also about ideological criminals. Russians who promote imperial views in social networks, who support the war in Ukraine, who speak disrespectfully about our country, history, culture and language, should be declared persona non grata. Such citizens have no place in Kazakhstan.
How to identify such dangerous elements?
In no case should the check be carried out at the border itself. This will create congestion and neutralize our open door policy. Therefore, we need to let everyone in, and only then, on the territory of our country, we need to identify provocateurs and deport them. Citizens of Kazakhstan, who already report such facts to law enforcement agencies, will be of great help in identifying them.
Guests should not be allowed to abuse our hospitality. Manifestations of aggression, hostility, arrogance should be stopped at the root, without leading to conflicts and clashes.