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Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 03:29:27 +0000
Sender: Former Soviet Republic - Central Asia Political Discussion List <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>
Organization: Int.Policy Unit
Subject: Re: About "ethnically" Kazak Kazakstan
To: Multiple recipients of list CENASIA <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>

About ‘ethnically’ Kazak Kazakstan

A dialog from CenAsia list, Feb–Mar 1998

Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 03:29:27 +0000

> From: Arthur Martirosyan <martiros@LAW.HARVARD.EDU>
> Subject: About "ethnically" Kazak Kazakstan
> Then you, Ms. Leroy, and other outside ethno-nationalist
> manipulators will start weeping about "ultra-nationalist",
> "neo-imperialist" Russia. The question that I have for you
> then is why Turkic ethno-nationalism is better than Russian
> ethno-nationalism?

Can anybody help me understand what Mr. Martirosyan is talking about? We are talking about Turkic lands and Russian lands and who lives where, how and why. A simple process of understanding the ethnological fabric. I don't think anybody is talking about the subject in the jaundiced way he seem to reflect it? He seem to excel in issues of pan-nationalism, but can not see the wood for trees! Just make it absolutely clear for us the angle you come in please.


Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 01:18:49 +0000

> Also, is it to the advantage of other Turkic ethnicities to claim
> themselves as Kazaks in a Kazak national state? i.e., similar to a
> situation of Tadjiks in Uzbekistan both during Soviet times and
> after. Thoughts?
> Erik Blender

In the old USSR days all Slavs called themselves Russian, for convenience, regardless of ethnic dispersion. I guess there is no harm in calling all Turkic ethnic dispersion in Kazakhstan, Kazaks.


Date: Sun, 1 Mar 1998 18:20:34 +1100
From: Mikhail Alexandrov <Mikhail.Alexandrov@ANU.EDU.AU>

It is right that we should not take Kazakh official statistics on Kazakh population for granted. Around 1.5 million people of various nationalities, mostly Russians, emigrated from Kazakhstan since independence. If we make a re-calculation on the basis of 1989 census, Kazakhs will still amount to around 44%. To go over 50% they would need a very high population growth, because immigration of Kazakhs to Kazakhstan from other countries was negligible, probably, less than 100,000. However, real population growth of Kazakhs was very low. In a recent address to the nation, Nazarbayev in fact expressed concern about "depopulation", and called for strong "demographic" policy. What he had in mind, God knows. I hope he will not decree that every Kazakh woman should have at least four children.

In all, demographic and migration issues in Kazakhstan are used as a policy tool to justify the image of Kazakhstan as an ethnic Kazakh state.

Mikhail Alexandrov
Centre for Middle Eastern And Central Asian Studies
Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200

Date: Sun, 1 Mar 1998 21:52:13 -0500
From: Arthur Martirosyan <martiros@LAW.HARVARD.EDU>

The discussion on current demography in Kazakstan is by and large groundless. Even if indeed the census next year finds that ethnic Kazaks (Russified or not) in Kazakstan and ethnic Latvians in Latvia or ethnic Estonians in Estonia are finally in absolute majority as titular ethnic groups, this will not mean that these countries are "ethnically" Kazak, Latvian or Estonian. Instead of developing a sense of civic loyalty by all ethnic groups to Kazak state, current authorities of Kazakstan have opted for Kazak ethnic majority as a tool of nation-state building. Unfortunately, their current policies re minorities in Kazakstan are below satisfactory as it has been established by a number of fact finding missions of the OSCE HCNM. However, since Kazakstan and other former Soviet republics are in transition to democracy (at least that is declared in their constitutions) they shall be held responsible for the treatment of minorities -- and it is clear that for decades to come they will have significant minority populations and will be multi-ethnic states. The dictate of a titular ethnic majority vis-a-vis other minorities is incompatabile with principles of democracy and cannot be justified by past wrongs perceived or real. It is not a secret that one of the reasons of denying Turkey access to EU is the treatment of Kurdish minority in RT.

At 05:43 PM 3/1/98 Baguirov wrote:
>I remember seeing an RFE/RL report last year showing that
>Kazakhstan is now comprised by more than 50% (i.e., majority) by
>ethnic Kazakhs.

RFE/RL, with all due respect, cannot have any veritable data until after the census next year.

Migratory services of the Russian Federation and Germany do have information on ethnic Russians and Germans who left Kazakstan but these data, too, without a comprehensive census or at least micro-census cannot produce an accurate current demographic picture of Kazakstan. [no-sequitur speculations snipped]

>The incorporation brought Russification, which intensified under the
>Soviet Union to the point that, whereas a 1919 census showed
>ethnic-Kazakhs composing 90 percent of the population, a 1969 census
>showed the number of ethnic-Kazakhs dropping to just 29 percent. By
>1991, even many young ethnic-Kazaks, particularly those living in the
>majority Russian-speaking north of the country, had become
>monolingual Russian speakers." Source: _Kazakhstan: New Language
>Law Allows Use Of Kazakh And Russian_, by Merhat Sharipzhanov and
>Charles Recknagel, Prague, 3 April 1997, RFE/RL M/p>

The point being? How many indigenous American tribes have been assimilated in the US? Which of the American Indian tribes were ever granted ethno-territorial proto-states (all former Soviet republics were ones as are current ethnic autonomies in the Russian Federation)? Moreover, Kazakstan never existed as a state before and its current territory includes areas which were never (or at least at the time of independent state formation) populated by ethnic Kazaks. These lands were arbitrarily incorporated in Kazakh SSR during Soviet days.



Date: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 00:38:23 -0800
From: Adil <baguirov@SCF.USC.EDU>

It is indeed important to wait for the census to take place in CenAsia for more precise numbers. However, census is a comprehensive account not only of population, but also that of houses, businesses, and other important items in a country or region at a particular time. In the mean time, however, annual population figures and other indicators, released by national GosKomStat's (State Committee of Statistics), are close enough for demographic analysis. Even though a small statistical discrepancy is assumed and understood, all reliable and authoritative sources rely on them for a reason. Therefore, there would be needed a rather good reason to unilaterally dismiss their numbers, scientific methods and historical experience, and thus declare them "groundless."

Last time I have checked Latvians and Estonians constituted a majority in their respective countries.

It is my belief that neither anyone on this list, nor Kazakhstan's government in particular are striving to get rid of non-Kazakh nationals (most are skilled workers w/o whom it would be tough) or for a mono-ethnic state, or even overwhelming majority (>90%) of the titular ethnicity. In fact, in the whole former Soviet Union there was and still is only one such state, traditionally obsessed with maintaining "purity" and virtual mono-ethnicity -- Armenia.

Kurds in Turkey can be called a "minority" only technically. When some sources, including Kurdish, claim up to 1/3 of Turkey's population being really Kurdish, that is a rather large "minority." And therefore their alleged "bad" treatment is non-sequitur, especially since late previous President of Turkey was a Kurd himself. As it was correctly pointed out, there are several other reasons of Turkey's non-admittance to the EU, where one of the major one's would be 'incompatible' religious preference (held by majority of the population).

I would not be so quick with declaring simple analysis of the reasons Kazakh's becoming a major ethnicity in their own country, especially when backed by many reports and scholar sources, as "no-sequitur speculations." The truth is that even though the population grows rate in Kazakhstan was and is low, it was made up by very large immigration of non-Kazakh population from Kazakhstan and influx of fairly large number of ethnic Kazakhs. Large enough to approach at least a million, combined. This all resulted in ethnic Kazakh population constituting more than 50% of the population of Kazakhstan. It is important to note though, that there were slightly more Kazakhs than Russians in Kazakhstan already in 1989.

In general, such is a typical migration picture. Kazakhs are returning to their homeland, while Russians migrate to RF because of far better financial opportunities, Germans to Germany because of that and much higher standards of living, etc.

Date: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 03:46:21 -0600
From: Sabit T Khakimzhanov <khak0002@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU>

> The point being? How many indigenous American tribes have been
> assimilated in the US? Which of the American Indian tribes were ever
> granted ethno-territorial proto-states (all former Soviet republics
> were ones as are current ethnic autonomies in the Russian
> Federation)? Moreover, Kazakstan never existed as a state before and
> its current territory includes areas which were never (or at least
> at the time of independent state formation) populated by ethnic
> Kazaks. These lands were arbitrarily incorporated in Kazakh SSR
> during Soviet days.
> Regards,
> Arthur

Arthur makes a good point. Indeed, treatment of minorities in postsoviet societies, Kazakstan included, is far from the standards of modern democratic world. However, Kazakstan is an odd choice to make a case. What usually comes to one's mind first is extreem cases, such as genocide in Bosnia or exodus of Azeris from Armenia.

I also like how Arthur presented the argument on irrelevance of percent of kazaks in Kazakstan's population. First, Arthur mentions Native Americans not having any sovereign states in Nroth America. Then he tells that Kazaks did not live within modern territory of Rep. Kazakstan and had no state before getting autonomy within Russian Federation, and finally, cites a refernce about many young Kazaks not speaking Kazak. One starts wondering why Kazakstan even exists as a sovereign state. It is a very good story.

Most of it, though, is plainly untrue. Kazaks did live within modern borders of Kazakstan and formed a majority on its territories. In fact, many Kazaks lived beyond the borders of KazSSR before 1917 and many continue to do so. When Kazakstan was an autonomy within Russia its capital was Orenburg, which is now outside of kazakstan's border. Like my great grandfather, who lived in 1910s near Omsk where rural Kazaks where considered indigenous people by the last tsar' census, many nomadic kazaks found Russian farmers and protecting them cossacks in places of kazak's winter settlements. Having been deprived from their land, they headed south.Another my grandfather fled from near Kostanai (north Kazakstan) in order to avoid "raskulachivanie" in 1929. Many people left for China and Mongolia.Those who remained, died of famine. No surprise, in 1950 there was approximately 4 mln kazaks in Kazakstan, the same number as in 1890s.

Now, when Russian pop-nationalists leverage Kazakstan by its not-so-kazak north, percentage of kazak population becomes precisely the point. In that respect, the percentage craze is to a degree an imported phenomenon.

When Arthur dismisses the importance of ethnic composition statistics for development of national state, I tend to agree. I agree that building "civic loyalty" is a more efficient strategy for building a modern state than opting for ethnocentric policies. What pisses me off is that in the next paragraph Authur alludes that Kazaks being too sparse in Kazakstan and sufficiently assimilated have no more rights for sovereign state than Native Americans do in North America.

So, whats the point?

Sabit Khakimzhanov
graduate student
Department of Applied Economics
University of Minnesota
office (612) 625-9715

Date: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 11:41:41 +0000

[> ...]

are you suggesting that Kazakhstan is not an ethnic Kazak state, in the sense that it belongs to Kazaks? There are more foreigners in Kuwait than Kuwaities, but that does not imply Kuwait is not ethnically Kuwaity.

I am getting confused as to in what context the 'ethinicity' is being used here!! is there a suggestion that Kazakhstan may not be Kazak ? By the way are the lands near Samara supposed to be Kazak?