Libmonster ID: KG-643
Author(s) of the publication: Yu. GUZHVENKO


Barnaul State Pedagogical University


Studies of interethnic relations in the post-Soviet space are becoming particularly important in connection with the changing status positions of titular and non-titular ethnic groups in the former Soviet republics, with the construction of new state identities. The ethnic problem was actualized, first of all, in states with a multi-ethnic composition of the population and with a complex ethno-social structure. One of these states is the Republic of Kazakhstan, where representatives of 131 ethnic groups live and there are two predominant ethnic groups-Kazakhs and Russians.

The study of interethnic relations within Kazakhstan is complicated by the closeness of materials, the veiled nature of many phenomena in the field of interethnic interaction, since it is most politicized in the republic. This is especially true for East Kazakhstan.

The last work devoted to the interethnic situation in East Kazakhstan before the collapse of the USSR is a study by K. P. Kalinovskaya 1. In the first half of the 1990s, this problem was not given due attention, despite the aggravation of interethnic contradictions in Kazakhstan. Since the late 1990s, issues of interethnic relations in the region have been monitored more regularly and studied by the Center for Social Monitoring and Forecasting of Semipalatinsk State University. Shakarima under the direction of A. P. Konovalov 2. Ust-Kamenogorsk also conducts studies that record the ethnic and religious situation in the city, but they are intended for internal use by akimats (departments) of the city and region and are practically inaccessible.

Our research is based on the materials of fieldwork conducted in October-November 2006, including by the author, in the cities of Semipalatinsk and Ust-Kamenogorsk. The main sources are interviews with officials, cultural and educational figures, ordinary residents, documents of the State Archive and Statistics Department of the East Kazakhstan region, Akimat and other specialized institutions of the region, as well as local press.


East Kazakhstan stands out in the republic not only on economic grounds, but also on ethnic characteristics. The east, north and center are considered urbanized territories of Kazakhstan, where the largest mining and processing enterprises are located. These regions are dominated by the Russian-speaking population employed in industrial facilities.3 In the south and west of Kazakhstan, the main Kazakh population lives, mainly engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry.

We also chose East Kazakhstan as the subject of our research because interethnic interaction in the region was hindered by many factors after the independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan. First, the activity of Slavic socio-political associations, such as ROSD "Lad", "Russian Community"; the demands of individual Cossack associations for the independence of the Northern and Eastern regions of Kazakhstan or their reunification with Russia. Irredentist sentiments* were recorded here among the government policy oppositionists, who were also dissatisfied with the reforms being implemented in the country. Secondly, the focus here is a significant share of the Russian population. Thus, according to the 1989 census, Russians in the East Kazakhstan region made up 65.9% of the population, Kazakhs-only 27.2%4.

In order to prevent separatist sentiments in the north and east of the republic, the authorities changed the administrative and territorial structure of Kazakhstan in 1997. First of all, they affected the east of the country: the Semipalatinsk region was abolished with its annexation to East Kazakhstan. The capital of Kazakhstan was moved from Alma-Ata to Astana 5.

Undoubtedly, the goal of the reform was achieved. On the eve of the creation of the new territorial unit, 30% of Kazakhs in the East Kazakhstan region and 63% of Russians were counted, while 59% of Kazakhs and 32% of Russians in the Semipalatinsk region, respectively.6 According to the 1999 census, 48.5% of Russians and 45.4% of Kazakhs lived in the united oblast, 7 and in 2005 Kazakhs made up more than half of the population (see Table 1). Thus, the demand for the creation of "Russian" autonomy in the territory of the East Kazakhstan oblast ceased to have an ethnic basis.

Initiatives of the Kazakh leadership aimed at changing the status positions of the Russian ethnic group had a certain impact on the ethno-social structure of Kazakhstan's society. In addition, it has led to a new type of relationship between the two main ethnic groups. In the 2000s, when the trends of changes in ethnic and social relations were clearly outlined, the main directions along which interethnic relations are developing in the cities of Eastern Kazakhstan (in large cities, already upr-

The study was carried out with the support of the Russian Foundation for National Research in the framework of the project "Interethnic interaction in the cities of East Kazakhstan in the post - Soviet period" (N 06 - 01-00362a).

* Irredentism (from Italian. irredenta was a political movement in Italy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for the annexation of the borderlands of Austria-Hungary with an Italian population. In this article, the term "irredentism" refers to the demand of the Russian-speaking population of Northern and Eastern Kazakhstan for reunification with Russia or the creation of an independent state entity. (Approx. ed.).

page 44

Table 1

National composition of Semipalatinsk and East Kazakhstan oblasts (censuses of 1939, 1959, 1970, 1979, 1989 in 1999, 2005,%)


Semipalatinsk region

East Kazakhstan Region





The Germans





The Germans

























































United East Kazakhstan Region















Compiled by: Center for Documentation of the latest history of the East Kazakhstan region (CDNI East Kazakhstan region) F. R-615. Op. 2. D. 1404, 1430; Alekseenko A. L. Peoples of East Kazakhstan. Ust-Kamenogorsk, 1994. p. 9: The German population of Kazakhstan in the late XIX-XX centuries. (based on the materials of the general population censuses of 1897 - 1999). Ust-Kamenogorsk, 2002; Russian State Archive of Economics (RGAE). F. 1562. Op. 336. D. 6279. L. 220-224; D. 6228. L. 144; Monitoring of the ethnic and religious situation in the East Kazakhstan region.

mentioned by us, and small ones-Kurchatov and Ridder).

In the cities of Eastern Kazakhstan, the predominance of the Kazakh population is recorded in Semipalatinsk - 59.6% (see Table. 2), while in Ust-Kamenogorsk the overwhelming majority - 70.5% - are Russian. Such ethnic content has a significant impact on the socio-economic and political stability of cities and the region as a whole.

Semipalatinsk retains relative ethnopolitical stability, but there is social tension associated with the city's poor economic situation. City-forming enterprises, such as a rebar plant and a meat processing plant, are not functioning at full capacity, only a cement plant is operating out of the large ones, and other food and light industry enterprises are not operating at full capacity. According to our observations, the city's transport infrastructure is completely destroyed, and the roads have not been repaired since the Soviet era.

As follows from an interview with the head of one of the national cultural centers, after the unification of the regions, officials from Ust-Kamenogorsk did not provide Semipalatinsk with the opportunity to develop production, having bankrupted almost all enterprises, which were then sold out at an affordable price. 8 Thus, the labor market in Semipalatinsk is very limited. At the same time, there is constant competition for jobs between the main ethnic groups - Kazakhs and Russians. The situation is aggravated by the growing migration of the rural Kazakh population to the cities. For a significant part of the mainly Russian-speaking population, temporary labor migration outside the region, mainly to the capital Astana and Alma-Ata, has become relevant. There are no statistics on seasonal labor migrants yet, but these are mainly construction workers, drivers, and representatives of those professions that have always had a high share of the Russian population.

The level of activity of socio-political movements in Semipalatinsk is low. This is due to both the narrowness of the social base or the lack of it, and the amorphous organizational structures, apathy of the main, mainly Kazakh part of the population.

A distinctive feature of Ust-Kamenogorsk is the politicization of its population, which is inherent in almost all cities where Russian citizens live compactly (in Ust-Kamenogorsk, 70% of the Russian population). Here the positions of the Cossacks and non-governmental Slavic organizations are strong, which bring ferment to the public life of the city, although the ethno-oriented initiatives of all Slavic organizations, according to our observations, practically do not have support among the general population.

East Kazakhstan is one of the regions where the Akim (governor) There was a Russian, Viktor Khrapunov, who converted to Islam. Now the new akim is Zhanybek Karibzhanov, former Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Vietnam, Mongolia and the DPRK.10

In East Kazakhstan, attempts were repeatedly made to separate this region and join it to Russia (for example, the events of November 1999, when V. Kazimirchuk took a provocative action to create a "Russian Republic"on the territory of the region). Currently, ethnic tensions continue to persist in Ust-Kamenogorsk. Russians do not feel particularly competitive in the labor market in cities such as Ust-Kamenogorsk and Ridder, and they still take the lead-

Table 2

Ethnic composition of East Kazakhstan cities (at the beginning of 2006,%)

Ethnic groups
















Compiled by: East Kazakhstan in figures 2006 Ust-Kamenogorsk, 2006, p. 29.

page 45

a certain position in the industry, which the titular population does not claim, considering this area of employment unpromising.


The results of a sociological survey on the state and prospects of the ethnolinguistic policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan conducted by the Dana Research Center in 2002 indicate that the language and national policy of the authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan meets with the greatest rejection in East Kazakhstan. Here, the number of our respondents who do not study the Kazakh language prevails over the respondents who study it.

The highest percentage of respondents intending to leave the republic was recorded in East Kazakhstan (30%), North Kazakhstan (21.6%) regions and Astana (23.9%). Representatives of German (35.5%), Russian (29.9%), Ukrainian (19.2%), and Korean (11.8%) nationalities have a significant migration potential .11

At the same time, only 4.3% of all respondents in Astana, 1.7% in the East Kazakhstan region, and 1.4% in the North Kazakhstan region are inclined to participate in protest rallies, demonstrations, and strikes.12

Depending on the nature, forms and intensity of interethnic relations, they can become a destabilizing or progressive factor. An apartment-by-apartment survey of regional residents conducted in June-July 200513 indicates that interethnic relations are developing positively. For example, 72.3% of respondents do not attach importance to the ethnicity of the people around them. Moreover, the greatest tolerance in this issue is shown by young people aged 18-29 years (95.8% of respondents). The new generation was socialized in the conditions of sovereign Kazakhstan - apparently, the process of forming Kazakhstan's state identity is more successful in this age category.

About 78% of respondents described interethnic relations positively ("Rather good" or "Good"). At the same time, 26.5% of respondents are concerned about "aggression, interethnic intolerance among young people", 19.8% - about the "language barrier", and 18.8% of respondents are concerned about "employment and career growth" on the basis of nationality (preference for representatives of the titular population, uncertainty in the future among the Russian-speaking population).

Thus, special questions reveal the concern of the Russian-speaking population with the problems of language development in Kazakhstan and career advancement. Many of the respondents personally experienced cases of harassment and infringement of rights on the basis of nationality. Moreover, the majority of responses fall in the sphere of official relations - 23.8%, while in interpersonal communication-9%. In our opinion, the presence of such a conflict experience can lead to a negative reaction to political or economic changes affecting certain ethnic groups.

In the event of an interethnic confrontation, 18.9% of respondents are ready to take the side of representatives of their nationality, that is, almost every fifth person is ready to forget about personal interethnic relations and tolerance in the event of an aggravation of the situation, 20% intend to actively help the authorities in resolving the conflict, and 18.2% do not want to take any part. Thus, in the cities of the East Kazakhstan region, in particular in Ust-Kamenogorsk, there is still a potential for the spread of ethnic extremism, which can worsen in an unstable period.

The regional branch of the Assembly of Small Peoples of Kazakhstan and the House of Peoples ' Friendship in Semipalatinsk play a positive role in uniting and uniting all ethnic groups of Kazakhstan. These structures make it possible to preserve the cultural traditions and customs of various ethnic groups (in particular, Russians, Kazakhs, Tatars, Germans, Cossacks, Ukrainians, etc.), and make it easier for them to teach and preserve their native language. Almost every national cultural center organizes free or affordable language courses. Best of all, this work is done by German national and cultural associations, which provide everyone with free language courses and textbooks at the expense of funds coming from Germany. In April 2005, the Assembly of Small Peoples of Kazakhstan held a conference in Ust-Kamenogorsk dedicated to the functioning and development of the Russian language in Kazakhstan. 14

Our sociological research has shown that the area of greatest borrowing is domestic life, namely the kitchen. The largest number of Russian respondents prefer Kazakh dishes in addition to their national cuisine. The overwhelming majority of Russians surveyed in Semipalatinsk say that the main qualities that they welcome and would like to borrow are mutual assistance, hospitality and respect for their elders from Kazakhs.15 Nevertheless, there are certain problems with interethnic stability. In Ust-Kamenogorsk, a stumbling block with ethnic overtones was the renaming of former Soviet streets. In the pamphlet "Streets Named after them" 16, published by

What the magazine wrote about 30 years ago

Afghanistan is developing cooperation in the field of education with the socialist countries, and above all with the Soviet Union... The USSR helped establish a polytechnic institute, an auto-mechanical technical school in Kabul, and an oil and mining college in Mazar-I-Sharif... Our country annually provides Afghanistan with more than a hundred scholarships for various periods of study. Between 1971 and 1974 alone, almost 500 Afghan citizens graduated from Soviet educational institutions, or 22 percent of the specialists who were educated abroad during that time... According to the Afghan CSB, from 1957 to 1974, with the help of the USSR, more than 60 thousand qualified workers and 5.2 thousand technicians were trained at the facilities of bilateral cooperation.

M. Mikhailov. Afghans are Learning (Asia and Africa Today, 1977, No. 4)

page 46

The State Archive of the East Kazakhstan region notes that the streets of the city were usually named after great figures of Russian and Soviet culture, and only a few were named after Kazakh figures. In 2002-2003, the city's intelligentsia, Kazakh in their ethnic composition, criticized in the mass media, in the mayor's office of the city, at public meetings about the insufficient implementation in Ust-Kamenogorsk of the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan "On Languages in the Republic of Kazakhstan", the state program for the functioning and development of languages for 2001-2010, the concept of the state onomastic work in the republic. The comments mainly concerned the renaming of the main streets of the city, and suggested options for perpetuating the memory of Kazakh batyrs and khans, writers, artists and scientists.

A telephone survey on this issue was conducted in Ust-Kamenogorsk in 2002. 75.6% of respondents considered that renaming streets is not necessary, while only 8.1% believed that it is important and necessary 17. So far, the campaign to rename the city's streets has not gained momentum, but supporters of changing the names do not abandon their intentions to " demolish the inscriptions of the Soviet era."

In Semipalatinsk, this campaign began almost immediately after independence and was successful. In Alma-Ata, despite the fact that all the central streets have been renamed, the old Soviet names are still used in everyday life. The mayor's office of the city even received requests that the old names should be preserved next to the new ones.

As can be seen, the success of onomastic transformations depends on the ethnic content of the city, and the ethnic composition of Ust-Kamenogorsk residents makes it difficult to carry out such reforms.

One of the destabilizing factors may be the state program announced by the President of Russia to facilitate the voluntary resettlement of compatriots living abroad to the Russian Federation.18 In September 2006, an apartment-by-apartment survey was conducted in Ust-Kamenogorsk to identify the emigration sentiments of 19 residents, including in connection with this program. 26% of respondents expressed their desire to move outside of Kazakhstan; 19% were undecided, but analysts consider this category most likely to be those who want to leave the republic. 53% of the respondents do not want to leave Kazakhstan, 39% of them answered:"I don't want to move yet." Experts note that this category of people is aware that in case of aggravation of certain circumstances, they will simply have to leave Kazakhstan. Thus, only 14% of respondents - representatives of the titular ethnic group-gave a clear answer about their unwillingness to leave ("I will not move under any circumstances").

The most preferred country to move to is Russia (17% of responses), but at the same time, it is interesting that 60% of respondents found it difficult to say which country they are ready to leave for. The main reasons for moving are ethnic in nature, the main one was the transition of office work to the Kazakh language (14% of respondents), and discrimination on the basis of nationality was noted by 8% of respondents.

* * *

The author's field research in the main cities of East Kazakhstan and opinion polls indicate the presence of certain ethnic tensions in the region, especially in Ust-Kamenogorsk. Problem nodes are identified, such as language policy, career advancement, and manifestations of everyday nationalism, which can become more acute under the influence of certain catalysts. The protest potential recorded in the region is latent, but it can lead to an open form of tension under certain conditions, such as the final translation of office work into Kazakh and the displacement of Russian speakers from the industrial sector.

The deadline for the final transfer of office work for the Semipalatinsk region and the city of Semipalatinsk is set for July 2007, while in Ust-Kamenogorsk this date was moved from 2010, as originally stated, to 2008. So far, the attitude of the population to the upcoming changes is not clear. But in the long run, it is these events that can stir up a wave of interethnic intolerance and migration activity of the Russian-speaking population.

Kalinovskaya K. P. 1 Interethnic situation in East Kazakhstan (based on field materials of 1986-1989) / / Ethnic conflicts in the USSR, Moscow, 1990, pp. 15-26.

Konovalov A. L. 2 National processes in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Semipalatinsk: Semey, 1999. p. 225; Konovalov A. L. Razvitie natsional'nykh protsessov glazami semipalatintssv: sbornik materialov sotsiologicheskikh issledovaniy, provodennykh v 2003 [Development of national processes through the eyes of Semipalatinsk CCSS: a collection of materials of sociological research conducted in 2003]. Semipalatinsk, 2004. p. 58; Konovalov A. L., Nanbekova N. S. Osobennosti proyavleniya istorii resheniya natsional'nykh contradictoriy v soznanii kazakhstantsev na primere sotsiologicheskikh issledovaniy v Semipalatinsk region of East Kazakhstan region].Kazakhstan region (2004-2006). Semipalatinsk, 2006.

Dvoskin B. Ya 3 Ekonomiko-geograficheskoe zoning of Kazakhstan. Alma-Ata, Nauka Publ., 1986. p. 32; Esengalieva A. K. Etnicheskiy faktor sotsial'no-politicheskogo razvitiya Kazakhstana [Ethnic factor of socio-political development of Kazakhstan]: events, issues, analysis, and forecasts. 1998, N 7. P. 32.

4 Results of the All-Union Population Census of 1989, Vol. II / Goskomstat RK. Alma-Ata: Republican Information and Publishing Center, 1992, p. 40.

5 Alma-Ata, 2001. P. 45; Alekseyenko A. N. Evolyutsiya regional'noi identichnosti na vostoke Kazakhstanii v sovershennyi period [Evolution of regional identity in the East of Kazakhstan in the sovereign period]. Problemy etnicheskogo separatism and regionalism in Central Asia and Siberia: istoriya i sovremennost ' [Problems of ethnic separatism and regionalism in Central Asia and Siberia: history and modernity]. Barnaul, 2004, p. 207.

Alekseyenko A. N. 6 Decree. soch. P. 207.

7 Summary of the 1999 Population Census in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Almaty, 1999. p. 103.

8 Field materials of the author in Semipalatinsk in October 2006 Semipalatinsk (N. K. Kozyreva). Tetr. 2.

Ayaganov B. G., Kuandykov A. U., Baimagambetov. 9 Ethnopolitical situation in Kazakhstan: regional experience / / Sayasat: events, issues, analysis, and forecasts. 1995. N 1. P. 41.

10 (last accessed 12 January 2006).

Abdygaliev B. B. 11 Politicization of ethnicity: processes, mechanisms, consequences. Almaty, 2003, p. 78.

12 Ibid.

13 Monitoring of the ethnic and religious situation in the East Kazakhstan region // Materials provided by the Akimat of East Kazakhstan region.

14 Russkiy yazyk v Vostochnom Kazakhstanii: problemy funktsionirovaniya, perspektivy razvitiya [Russian language in East Kazakhstan: Problems of functioning, prospects of development]. Ust-Kamenogorsk, 2005.

15 Data from a sociological survey conducted in October 2006 as part of the implementation of the RGNF project No. 06-01-00362a (currently at the final stage of processing).

16 Streets named after Them: guidebook / State Archive of East Kazakhstan region (GA East Kazakhstan region). Ust-Kamenogorsk, 2006, p. 89.

17 HA OF East KAZAKHSTAN REGION. Documents of the onomastic commission.

18 Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of 22 June 2006 "State Program for assistance to voluntary resettlement of compatriots living abroad".

19 Migratsionnye moods of Ust-Kamenogorsk residents / / Materials provided by the Akimat of the East Kazakhstan region.


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