by Nathan Hamm on 8/18/2005

Ben, who is currently making his way through Central Asia, has an interesting post on Kazakhstan’s Kaisar youth movement. Of the group, he says,

My host Aidar tells me that they seem to be fairly pro-government, but not simply of the marionette kind. They strive to unite the Kazakhstani youth regardless of their education and origins. Hence, it is explicitely no sole student organisation.

Many people here hold the view that Kaisar is just another try of the government to prevent any colour-like scenarios for Kazakhstan. Viewing the Kyrgyz organisation KelKel with suspicion, the foundation of Kaisar is seen as a preemptive strike against any such endeavours in Kazakhstan.

From a quick glance at their fairly snazzy website, they strike me as a pro-governmental group but, like Ben says, not at all in lock-step. Though the site is only in Russian and Kazakh at the moment (which to me says that it is definitely a different creature than the avowedly and strongly oppositional youth organizations elsewhere in the region), you can find a machine translation of the site here.

The group claims on its site that it is a grassroots organization and independent of all parties and other political organizations. They promote a civic nationalism, involvement of successful young Kazakh citizens in political processes, and evolutionary political and economic liberalization.

Though looking through more of the website, I can see why some would dismiss the group as a government instrument. For example, this article (English here) argues that all religious, social, and civil disputes are anti-patriot and that true patriots have no ideology. The article then goes on to say that those who work against Kazakhstan–such work is not defined, but I assume it to be causing the aforementioned disputes–are its enemies.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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