Russian Repatriation

by Nathan Hamm on 8/21/2006 · 5 comments

More than 9,000 ethnic Russians are seeking repatriation from Kyrgyzstan. RFE/RL’s report contains no indication as to what, if anything, the Kyrgyz government is doing to try to encourage Russians to stay.

While a mass exodus of Russians would certainly cause problems for Kyrgyzstan, the consequences of Russians moving en masse to Russia would be catastrophic for Kazakhstan. The country’s prime minister sounded the alarm about Russia’s repatriation plan.

A government statement quotes Akhmetov as telling a cabinet meeting in Astana that Russia’s plans may prompt non-ethnic Kazakh skilled workers to leave the country.

Akhmetov today said Kazakhstan, whose blooming economy has been attracting many workers from neighboring Central Asian countries, has shown a positive migration rate in the past two years. But he said Russia’s plans may reverse that trend.

That’s not to say that everyone in Kazakhstan is too worried about Russians leaving though. The nationalist Ult Tagdyry movement released a statement supporting Russia’s repatriation offer.

“We should openly admit that in the name of tranquility and stability the Kazakh people has never taken steps to restore its national values and bring about democratization of society. It has never been done because interests of the Russian diaspora are taken into consideration.” It is apparently an oblique way of saying that the Russian diaspora in Kazakhstan is the obstacle for construction of an “ethnic democratic state.”

Ult Tagdyry wishes “all luck and a safe journey to the Russian brothers given a chance by the President of the Russian Federation to return to the land of their ancestors.”

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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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Kyrgyz Guy August 21, 2006 at 9:52 pm

They’re leaving because the Kyrgyz Government has not made them to feel a part of society, but as mere guests. First they left their villages for the North and now they’re leaving the North for Russia. Do you blame them? They’re barely represented in Parliament (by a trio of crooks), and no representation in the cabinet.

Kyrgyzstan is a multi-ethnic state, but completely disregards this in favor of growing Kyrgyz nationalism. I understand they want to create a national identity, but it does not have to be done on the backs of minorities, who were largely sent here by Stalin or found themselves drawn into this countries borders in the 1930’s.

Kuda August 22, 2006 at 2:04 am

Fully agree with Kyrgyz guy, unfortunately there is a flip side to this. Before the average Kyrgyz on the street will have more time for the local Russians is when Russian nationalism ebbs too. Stories of Central Asians’ getting killed in Russia as migrant workers flood the yellow press and the attitude of the Russians actually in Russia of Central Asians being backward doesn’t help.

This doesn’t excuse the Kyrgyz government’s attitude. There is much less a problem over the border where Nazarbaeyev has done much more to embrace the Russian population.

Irka August 22, 2006 at 6:17 am

I found, much to my suprise, there are a number of ethnic Russians in KG who genuinely feel that that the country is their home; and that in their own way, they are Kyrgyz by nationality and citizenship.
There’ll be ethnic Russians who stay in KG, but probably only in the north, congregating around Bishkek.
What’s more intersting are the ethnic Rusians who stay in the Ferghana valley/Uzbekistan, places like Andijan. I wonder what keeps them…?

Leila August 22, 2006 at 3:50 pm

RFE/RL also has a material about a meeting of Russian, Slavic and Kossak leaders on 11 August – they are sceptical in general about the plan. It offers resettlement to certain priority regions – but everybody wants to go to Moscow and St. Petersburg! Also they do hear stories from those who left – and still don’t have Russian citizenship, or jobs, the usual migrant stories – sucessful or not, just that the Russian government is not so helpful and I don’t think Russians believe Putin when he promises jobs and benefits.

Kuda August 25, 2006 at 4:40 am

Sadly, this kind of story shows why Central Asians have little feeling for Russians.

Moscow blast ‘targeted Asian market traders’
· Students confess to killing 10 with homemade bomb
· Fears over escalation in racially motivated attacks

Tom Parfitt in Moscow
Thursday August 24, 2006


A blast that killed 10 people in a Moscow market on Monday was caused by homemade bombs planted by two students targeting Asian traders, officials said yesterday. Prosecutor Yuri Syomin said the pair carried out the attack because they thought there were “too many people [there] of Asian background, towards whom they experienced bad feelings”.
The attack, which marks a sharp escalation in the campaign by Russian ultra-nationalists against immigrants, was originally thought to have been provoked by a business dispute.

However, Oleg Kostyryov and Ilya Tikhomirov, both 20-year-old university students, were charged with racially motivated murder. They were arrested at the scene of the explosion at the Cherkizovsky market in the north-east of the city, soon after it took place. A third man, Valery Zhukovtsov, is being questioned.

Russia has seen a rise in xenophobia in the past two years, expressed in a series of murders and beatings of people with dark skin, often from central Asia or the Caucasus. Markets have often been points of tension as immigrants work there, selling food, clothes and other goods.

Neither of the suspects is known to be a member of a neo-Nazi group, and their attack differed from a spate of recent racist killings in which the victims were stabbed, shot or beaten to death.

Mr Syomin said the two had confessed to the crime, and that components of makeshift bombs were found at the halls of residence where Mr Kostyryov lived. In a confused reference to Chechens, they told investigators their aim was to “get revenge on the ‘illegals’ who are filling up Russia and carrying out terrorist attacks”.

According to police, the pair learned how to prepare a bomb on the internet. They used ammonium nitrate, aluminium powder, acetone and sulphuric acid, with an alarm clock detonator. Mr Kostyryov was a chemistry student at the Mendeleev Institute and may have used his knowledge to make the devices.

Police said earlier that Mr Kostyryov and Mr Tikhomirov had entered a building at Cherkizovsky at 10.30am on Monday and planted one explosive device each, concealed in a plastic bag. Surveillance pictures showed Zhukovtsov lagging behind them, without carrying anything.

The blast, which tore through shops and a walkway, killed 10 people and 40 had to be sent to hospital. Two of the dead were Russians but the others were citizens of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Mr Kostyryov and Mr Tikhomirov are thought to have planned the attack weeks in advance and recruited Zhukovtsov last weekend to help them escape afterwards.

Kamilzhan Kalandarov, a Muslim leader and member of the government-controlled Public Chamber (an ombudsman body), said the attack showed xenophobia had reached a dangerous level, with nationalists opting for the use of terror.

The blast was “not an instance of banditry, but a large-scale mass terror attack motivated by ethnic enmity,” he told Interfax.

Galina Kozhevnikova of the racist violence monitor Sova said: “This demonstrates the quick growth of ultra-right tendencies. We are seeing a 30% increase in xenophobic attacks every three months.”

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