Foreign media have paid attention to repeated attacks by Russian public figures towards Kazakhstan. Outside our country, there is speculation: why, despite the external cooperation of the two neighbors, do provocations continue?
The most notable in recent times is Russian TV presenter Tina Kandelaki. She is currently also the deputy director-general of the state media holding «Gazprom-Media.» In her Telegram channel, she criticized the capital of Kazakhstan for renaming railway stations.
Here’s a quote:
«The Ministry of Transport of the republic decided to rename several railway stations and replace Russian names with Kazakh ones. For example, they propose to rename the ‘Uralsk’ station to ‘Oral’, ‘Uzen’ to ‘Zhanaozen’, and so on. As the experience of the Baltic states shows, this is a very dangerous trend. It all started small there too, but then it turned into a real snowball: Russian schools were closed, Soviet monuments were removed, the Russian language was banned, and finally, pensioners were expelled into the cold,» wrote the former host of the show «The Smartest.»
«History» in their hands
Needless to say, Kazakhstan swiftly reacted to such statements? Interestingly, another post followed this one. This time, the fastest-talking presenter called on Kazakhs to remember «who saved them during the January 2022 events.»
In response to the «admonitions» from the deputy director of «Gazprom,» the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs hurried to action and banned Kandelaki from entering the country. On the same day, when this happened, the holding’s television channel, where the media personality works, aired a program reporting that «it turns out that before the Bolsheviks came to power, ‘there were no Kazakhs’ and along with them, there were no Uzbeks, and Azerbaijanis. Supposedly, these peoples were artificially bred by the Soviet authorities. … The author of this statement was the ‘historian’ Mikhail Smolin.»
Russia’s official representative, Maria Zakharova, rushed to ease the growing tension between Kazakhstan and Russia. She explained that Smolin’s statement is subjective and «remains entirely the responsibility of the author.»
The situation was also commented on by the Kazakh side. According to Majilis member Sergey Ershov, such statements are made intentionally to «undermine relations between countries.»
The question here is why, despite the official cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia, public figures on federal television channels attempt to spoil relations between the countries, and the Russian authorities do not stop these attempts?
A word to Kazakhs…
Negative statements towards Kazakhstan began long before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and before Kazakhstan expressed its position on this matter.
As far back as 2018, Kazakhstani political analysts discussed verbal attacks on Kazakhstan by Soloviev. And even then, they were puzzled: how to respond correctly to such statements and what could this lead to?
As political analyst Askar Nursha once remarked, the paradox lies in the fact that we watch the news about Russia, about the Far East and the deep north every day, and we know what is happening there even better than what is happening in Kazakhstan itself.
«In Russia, however, the situation is different, if once a week they show a story about Central Asia — this is already considered big news. In general, not only Kazakhstan, but the entire Central Asia is poorly represented in the Russian information field — they have very little information about our politics, about what is happening here, and about Kazakhstan’s policies in foreign affairs,» the political analyst expressed.
Nursha also added that provocative statements from Russia have been and will be, as guests of television channels are not at all limited in the means of verbal expression. And to some extent, it makes no sense to declare a sharp-tongued media figure persona non grata, as after that, the person will remain with their opinion. It would be much more effective to focus on the development of domestic television channels, where Kazakhs could learn about global processes at the local level, rather than from Russian TV presenters. It’s also time to give a voice to local experts who also have their own opinions and views on what is happening. Perhaps then, the reproaches of Russian propagandists will recede into the background for us.