Understanding the Turmoil in Kazakhstan

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A deeply rooted idea endorsed by Russia’s political leaders concerning Russia’s role of protection in its near abroad is tied to the Soviet legacy. A unique mission of Russia is to shield the former Soviet republics from threats of color revolutions, religious extremism, and other problems ginned up by external players. In the Kremlin’s view, Russia’s Central Asian neighbors are vulnerable states that lack a tradition of nationhood. According to Vladimir Putin, Nursultan Nazarbayev, former president of Kazakhstan “created a state on the territory where there has never been a single state. Kazakhs have never had their own nationhood. He created it. In this context, he is an exceptional figure in the post-Soviet space." Orientalism of official Russian political statements infuriates Kazakhstani patriots and sparks the rise of nationalism.


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