" They call them selves KazaRusami - those who left back to Russia. They said that for few years they were feeling uncomfortable (..) tried to adopt and finally decided to set up their own community . Our Russians are different that those in Russia- they are softer , kinder with some Eastern gentleness in them , they are more attentive and not so egoistic." Kulyunkoz , Kazakh woman married to Russian man , mother of three kids from Petropavl.
Twenty six years ago Kazakhstan became an independent country. Since then, a process of rewriting history books and reviving national language has started. While ethnic Kazakhs from abroad were encouraged to repatriate back to their historical homeland, Russian-speaking minorities became Kazakhstan citizens. A delicate balance for self-nation building policy for the years to come was based on a multi-vector foreign policy so not to upset Russia, the powerful neighbour. This transition is particularly challenging for the young generation, who is standing at the crossroad of two cultures.
V. Putin his speech in Moscow announcing the annexation of Crimea in March of 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." After war in Ukraine many speculated Kazakhstan to become 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 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 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 . Maintaining its economical and political influence on former Soviet Republic is at the center of modern Russia policy. Russia is carefully kept as a closest ally of Kazakhstan yet on the background more subtle measures are being implemented - to undermine the long standing Russian influence, the focus is shifting towards educating the young generation from the transition period and those born in Independent Kazakhstan.
It seems that the generation from the transition period and those born after the fall of the Soviet Union are drifting apart from their Russian compatriots. While maintaining strong ties to Russia they slowly become incorporated into the Kazakh self- nation building concept.