“KazaRusy”, Russians in Kazakhstan

Justyna Mielnikiewicz

V. Putin his speech in Moscow announcing the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 told the audience «Millions of people went to bed in one country and awoke in different ones [after the USSR’s collapse], overnight becoming ethnic minorities in former Union republics, while the Russian nation became one of the biggest, if not the biggest ethnic group in the world to be divided by borders.»
In Kazakhstan, the Baltic States, Belarus and Ukraine, ethnic Russians form the largest minority groups. But they are all different depending on the country they live in. Baltic’s states are under EU and NATO protection. Ukraine is at war with Russia. Kazakhstan and Belarus are for now- the closest allies of Russia in the region.

After war in Ukraine many predicted Kazakhstan would become the next region to grab for Russia. Russians are the biggest ethnic group in Kazakhstan making about 20 % of the total population. In cities like Petropavl which is a focus of my story, ethnic Russians and Russian speakers make up more than 60 percent of the population and Russian is the lingua franca. It is a historical outpost on the South of the Imperial Russia with ethnically diverse Russian speaking population. It is located on the southern edge of Siberia with the Russian border just 40 km away. Most residents watch Russian television, drive for shopping to Omsk across the border and send their kids to study in Russia. Yet they choose to live in Kazakhstan when any of them could have just moved to Russia.
Kazakhstan is their homeland.

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