Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan: Life and Politics during the Soviet Era

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan
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Its development depends, firstly, on the access to the rest of the world. Central Asia is an important part of the political and economic world system, being "surrounded by some of the most dynamic economies in the world, including three of the so-called BRIC countries Russia, India and China " Central Asia Competitiveness Outlook, As Armando Marques Guedes stresses , "Central Asia is, somehow, a hinge zone", which has "regained undoubtedly an extraordinary importance both structural and conjunctural".

According to this expert, "if there were three major milestones of the 21st century, conflicts that had an effective impact on the reconstruction and creation of a new international order, these would be Afghanistan, Iraq and the invasion of Georgia by the Russian Federation" Guedes, Interestingly, according to the author, "these three conflicts occurred in Central Asia" Guedes, Note also that if there is "a conflict that humanity currently fears", this involves Iran, which is no other than "a southern extension of Central Asia" Guedes, For centuries, Central Asia has been the crossroads of Eurasia, or, as noted by Jack Caravelli , "the intersection between East and West", which makes, according to this author, the region "interesting".

Indeed, it is the point of confluence of four civilizations that have both controlled and been controlled by Central Asian peoples Asimov and Bosworth, Moreover, as noted by Xiaojie Xu, "the civilizations that dominate the region have been able to exert their influence in other parts of the world" Before the arrival of the Russians, Central Asia was an integrated entity at the cultural, linguistic and religious level Dani and Masson, The colonization process, initiated by czarist Russia, was the starting point for the fragmentation of the region, and has been specially designed to support the power structure of the colonizer Bacon, Fourniau explains that, from a historical point of view, "the region was either integrated into world-empires, during very short periods, either divided over long periods" para.

The various entities that make up Central Asia, often correspond to "successor states of these world-empires as the sovereign states today are the successors of the Soviet Republics " Fourniau, para.

According to Gleason, "the first inhabitants of Central Asia were nomads who traveled from the north and from east to west and south" The Samanid dynasty of Persia succeeded after the Arab governance during the 9th and 10th century Esengul, The Mongols destroyed the main Persian and Arabic centers of learning and trade, which helped Turkish languages become dominant in the region Dani and Masson, After the death of the Great Khan in , his descendants divided Central Asia, and the region remained divided until the governance of Timur 'the lame', which united the small Turkish tribes in the middle of the fourteenth century Dani and Masson, According to Hye Lee "the Russians had a first contact with Central Asia in when Peter the Great sent the first Russian military expedition into the Kazakh steppe, but the real effort to conquer the region took place in the nineteenth century, around " para.

The foreign invasions were not limited to acts of conquest, to the extent that they generated a vast cultural interaction. Offering a fusion of cultures, languages , religions and people, they contributed in making the notion of identity in the region extremely complex Dani and Masson, The main Central Asian informal institutions that have proven to stand the test of time were the tribes and clans Esengul, It is not surprising, therefore, that more and more experts in Central Asian affairs highlight the importance of clan politics with regard to the control they exert on the economy and politics of the region Collins, Among the Central Asians, loyalty to the family or village is the most important at the sub-ethnic level Dani and Masson, This loyalty is based on the core of the political organization of society: the family Dani and Masson, The dominant linguistic group of Turkestan was formed by the Turkish languages such as Turkmen, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Kazakh Bruchis, The Russians occupied the three khanates, having, however, just attached the Khanate of Khokand, and attributed the status of protectorates to the khanates of Khiva and Bukhara Rywkin, Thus, the Western Turkestan, which became part of the Russian Empire in and was known as Russian Turkestan, encompassed the most part of the lands inhabited by Turkic peoples Turkmen, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Kazakh , but did not officially comprise the protectorates of Bukhara and Khiva Bacon, In turn, the Eastern Turkestan also known as Chinese Turkestan referred to the easternmost part of the region, encompassing lands in northwest China, i.

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From until the collapse of the Soviet Union in , Central Asia was under Russian rule for little more than a century Rywkin, Mark Dickens suggests some factors that contributed to the conquest of Central Asia. Let's emphasize "an instinctive impulse aiming to fill the geopolitical gap created by the collapse of the Great Tatar Horde Under the Russian leadership which was essentially colonial, locals experienced important transformations Bacon, Daniel Pipes believes that "like other colonial masters, the czarist government believed in the overwhelming superiority of its culture", in fact "the Russians insisted on using their own language, despised local habits and culture, in particular Islam, and revealed attitudes characteristic of all European settlers in the Third World" 6.

The period of Russian dominance was not only marked by the political and economic transition, but, above all, by the dominance of Russian culture and language. In practice, the language of the 'colonial occupier' has become the lingua franca for the Central Asian people Rywkin, The 'imposed' popularization of the Russian language was a key element in the grand scheme of social engineering designed by Moscow, which had been carried out at different levels, on the Soviet republics the so-called Russification or Russifikatsia Bacon, It should be noted that later, the Soviets would develop a theory according to which as long as the socialist society moved forward toward true communism, nations would tend to get closer, at the same time a new Soviet culture would emerge Dickens, 4.


In this respect Bennigsen and Broxup explain that:. The insensitivity of the Russians to the needs of local people, their reluctance to adapt to the local culture, and their concern with personal gains gave rise to an atmosphere of constant hostility between indigenous peoples and the Russian colonizers Bacon, The Soviet Union was built on the remains of the Russian empire, and continued the same colonial way of his predecessor Mandel, Therefore, the Soviet Union would strengthen and complete the processes started by Tsarist Russia, introducing at the same time, some new concepts and projects, characteristic of the communist doctrine Silver, The famine that followed the war caused the death of thousands of people.

Such conditions were even more severe in Turkestan, which had been colonized by the Russian Empire Wheeler, Given such circumstances, according to Chinara Esengul, "the strategy -more friendly and inclusive- of the Soviet authorities who sought to implement a process of korenizatsia 'assimilation' appeared to be promising" According to the author, "the main objective of the korenizatsia policy was to incorporate local cadres along with the Russians, in the management process, as well as in other areas of production and industry" This process was limited by the low level of literacy, even among the regional elites.

The creation of the Republics, in , was an attempt by Moscow to 'kill two birds with one stone' Rywkin, In other words, this meant pacifying the masses and nationalist elites in Central Asia, giving them formal autonomy and independence, retaining at the same time, control over the politics and economics of the region Rywkin, This delimitation was an extension of the principle 'divide to rule', previously adopted by Tsarist Russia regarding Turkestan Mandel, The Soviet period was characterized by an intensive process of 'state-building' At the same time, the nation-building was well planned by the center that assigned to the new states "formal languages and culture, and administrative structures" Anderson However, the process of creating an 'ethno- national' identity was limited by and subject to development-oriented policies of supranational identity: the 'Soviet people' Mandel, The Soviet nationalities' policy advocates an eventual fusion with the Soviet culture Carrere d'Encausse, According to Mark Dickens, "although the Sovietization and Russianization were, in theory, two different processes, in practice they often seemed to coincide" 5.

The Russians perceived themselves as civilizing agents in Central Asia during the Tsarist era, and this self-perception would change little during the Soviet era Wheeler, However , Dickens warns of "the importance of recognizing that the Soviets made quite remarkable achievements [in Central Asia]: they reduced illiteracy, higher education has become accessible to a larger percentage of the population, medical services have improved significantly, and agricultural and industrial production raised the standard of living compared to anywhere else in the Islamic world" 5.

From the outset, Islam had proved more sensitive regarding Moscow relations with locals, being perceived by the Soviets as incompatible with the Marxist doctrine Thrower, Considerable efforts have been made to eradicate the cult of Islam Mandel, After all, this was considered a potential unifying political force against the Russian governance, and seen, from then on, as a threat to the Soviet domination and to the communist doctrine Rywkin, On the contrary, it forced people "to live a double life during the Soviet era; publicly pretending to revere their Communist leaders, while in private, nurturing their pre-communist culture" Olcott, : 7.

From an economic standpoint, the region, which had been transformed into a source of raw materials under the Tsarist leadership, remained as such in the Soviet era. The "white gold" cotton continued to capture the interest of the Soviets in terms of regional economy Mandel, Such an economic policy "seriously affected the environment of the region" Anderson, Indeed, the excessive use of fertilizers and water resources to improve the crops of cotton would result in an environmental disaster, as evidenced by the degradation of the Aral Sea Regional report of the Central Asian States, The last decades of Soviet rule were important for two reasons: a the liberalization initiatives of Mikhail Gorbachev, the perestroika and the glasnost established "the immediate political context and a catalyst for the early stages of regime transition in Asia Central [and other Soviet republics]" Collins, , b this period is characterized by "negotiating pacts between the main political forces in each Central Asian state" Collins, This had been a time of change in the power configuration.

It is interesting to note how the vision of Russian domination affected the writing of history during the Soviet era Dani and Masson, Prior to , "the official line was that the Russian conquest of the non-Russian areas had been 'an absolute evil' absoliutnoe zlo " Dickens, 6.

Silencing Central Asia: The Voice of Dissidents

Thus, those who resisted Tsarist forces were considered patriotic heroes. During the 30s and 40s, "Russian expansion turned to be seen as a 'lesser evil' naimen'sheie zlo , compared to what could have happened to the people if the Turks, the Persians, or the British had conquered them" Dickens, 6. China will continue to develop its Silk Road strategy, but this appears to be slowing down. Yet in terms of foreign policy, Russia is primarily focused on: its relationship with the West, including re-establishing good relations with some European capitals; building on its success in Syria while at the same time finding a way to withdraw; and its interaction with its main Asian partners.

Alexander Libman. The EAEU could become a much more attractive institution for the Central Asian states if it resolved its two main problems: external protectionism and still persistent internal barriers. However, as the experience of shows, any progress becomes less and less likely.

Partly it is because of persistent contradictions between member states. While in the EAEU countries managed to sign the agreements on the new Customs Code in force since and on the creation of a joint market for medical products, these agreements became possible only because of substantial compromises as opposed to the original plans.

But in , an even more important problem materialized: Russia seems to gradually lose interest in the EAEU.

Meet The Stans: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan Part 2

Two issues have stood out: high external tariffs and a lack of progress on abolishing internal non-tariff barriers. Economic crisis in Russia and the decline in the market price of oil since have had an ambiguous impact on the role of the EAEU: they have reduced the potential benefits of cooperation with Russia while simultaneously making the Central Asian economies more fragile and thus dependent on the preservation of existing economic ties, including those with Russia.

The existing economic forecasts for suggest that the Central Asian economies will continue to grow, but this is due either to the current very low level of economic development as in the case of Kyrgyzstan or is conditional on the continuing stabilization of the oil price as in the case of Kazakhstan , which, as recent years have demonstrated, could be subject to unpredictable fluctuations. From this point of view, the most probable scenario for the EAEU in is continued stagnation, with some limited progress in individual areas like the common electricity market where a lot of work has already been done.

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Whereas for Armenia and Belarus this tolerance will be limited by the logic of geopolitics resistance to what the Russian leadership perceives as the increasing influence of the EU , Russia is likely to be less concerned about Central Asia. At the same time, the core elements of the EAEU will be preserved: as mentioned above, in the current economic environment, it is certainly not in the interests of Central Asian states to create new barriers to economic relations with Russia. The Central Asian countries will remain in the difficult situation of being dependent on Russia, yet unable to rely on Russia as a source of economic growth.

Kate Mallinson. His messianic perception of the role he plays and the stability he provides in Kazakhstan—particularly in the face of current economic uncertainty—means that moving on is not on his agenda. On the international stage, Nazarbayev has achieved significant victories and established a niche for Kazakhstan within an increasingly turbulent geopolitical order. In the coming year, Nazarbayev will continue to offer Kazakhstan as a neutral base to host peace talks and unprecedented meetings between Central Asian leaders.

Kazakh business elites and investors alike are concerned about policy continuity in any post-Nazarbayev scenario. Nazarbayev sits at the apex of a vertical power system, imposing his own informal system of checks and balances, astutely balancing myriad powerful business elites and individuals. Without Nazarbayev as the ultimate arbiter, the political economy of Kazakhstan will change irrevocably.

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Despite the preeminence of informal power-sharing arrangements, Nazarbayev will abide by the constitution in order to lend legitimacy to the future leadership. Key elites and family members would be appointed to a collective leadership rather than relying on a single designated heir. The era of high economic growth that largely insulated the regime from public engagement in political life is over. Murmurs of discontent, including a worrying brain drain and sporadic protests over the past few years, suggest that the social contract between the ruling elite and society has been shaken, posing a more significant challenge to succession.

Aware of this rising disaffection, the government will entrench its repression of civil society and the media in Sean R. In , Uzbekistan has delivered the most surprises of any country in the Central Asian region. Whereas Uzbekistan had long been seen as standing in the way of regional cooperation on virtually every issue imaginable, Mirziyoyev has spent most of the last year promoting regional integration and making multiple trips around the region to demonstrate his dedication to cooperation.

Among other things, these trips have resulted in the resolution of long-standing disputes between countries and agreements for further cooperation.

Silencing Central Asia: The Voice of Dissidents

Analysing the overall Islamic movement not in Central Asia alone shows clearly what is behind these terms. Nevertheless, a life-long fundamentalist can be simultaneously a law-abiding citizen who does not participate in any political activities. Islamism is political action that aims to establish an Islamic state, that is, to achieve the main goal of the fundamentalist ideology. Are fundamentalism and Islamism present in society and on the political stage of Central Asia?

cz.ihobaluzuzal.tk They are, beyond any doubt. Their followers are shaping a trend in public opinion and are fully fledged participants in the political process. It is useless and even dangerous to try to ignore this fact and even more so to fight fundamentalism and Islamism as a sociopolitical and ideological phenomenon. We know from the experience of Muslim countries — Algeria, Turkey, Sudan, Egypt, Indonesia and others — that persecutions of political Islam result in the radicalization of its followers and the appearance of extremists.

This destabilizes the situation in society and can even lead to civil war, as happened in Algeria in the wake of the attempt by the authorities to destroy the Islamic Salvation Front, the leading opposition force. Islamism in Central Asian states and regions is of an enclave nature.

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The reconstruction efforts involved construction of multi-storied concrete residential buildings, schools, and hospitals, as well as creation of new industries and measures to develop infrastructure. The Russian Federal Migration Service reported in that 50, refugees and , forced migrants were residing in the Russian Federation. Republic of China's control of the region was relegated to southern Xinjiang and there was a dual threat from Islamic separatists and communists. Such dubious ethnically-derived logic was not reserved for Germans. These empires launched several attempts to conquer the steppe people, but met with only mixed success.

It is possible to single out three broad stages of Islamist activities during the s. The first stage was at the start of the s, when political Islam was developing in the general context of an Islamic renaissance. It proved impossible to found an Islamic organization only in Turkmenistan, and a harsh regime was established almost immediately after the declaration of an independent state. The majority of the Islamic structures of those times were not fated to become stable political organizations. Some proved no more than educational groups, while others could not establish a strong organizational centre.

Still others did not go beyond one-time actions, even if these were rather clamorous. Some organizations disbanded, while others were crushed by the state.

The Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan proved the most successful of all, making it to the government in and later playing a key role in opposition. The Adolat movement, for example, enjoyed great popularity in the Fergana Valley but was finally brought down by President Karimov. The second period, between and , led to the impression that Islamists were unable to really compete against the ruling regimes anywhere but Tajikistan.

This was actually a lull during which Islamism was restructuring. The breeding ground for Islamism remained, however — the worsening economic situation, growing unemployment, general disappointment caused by failed reforms — and the renaissance of Islam was only a matter of time. The beginning of the third period, marking a fresh spiral of Islamist activity, came somewhere between and As a result of a negotiating process, the UTO won a number of key positions in the coalition government.

The section of non-conformist clergy was consolidated and many mosques, primarily in the Fergana Valley, became centres of political Islamic opposition. Islamism began to be strengthened in Tashkent. According to other views, Islamism or, to use official Uzbek terminology, Wahhabism, plays no essential role in politics and poses no threat to the regime, whereas the authorities skilfully use it as a bugbear and a pretext for further curtailment of freedoms. Be that as it may, Islamists and generally all those who occupy the positions of non-conformist Islam are being systematically harassed.

They face criminal trials, many clergymen who crossed over to join the opposition are in prison, and some have vanished without trace.

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The authorities have closed down several mosques, which they claim had become centres of anti-government propaganda. Political Islam is gradually gaining a foothold in Kyrgyzstan and southern regions of Kazakhstan. In Kyrgyzstan, primarily in the cities of Osh and Dzhalal-Abad, as well as in Batken, a number of Islamist groups were trying to secure official registration with the Justice Ministry.