More than half of all non-Kazakhs in Kazakhstan now speak Kazakh, Astana says

Kazakh language (Image:


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Artystanbek Mukhamediuly, Kazakhtan’s culture and sports minister, says that 83.1 percent of the population of his country now speaks Kazakh, a figure that means more than half of all non-Kazakhs do and one that reduces the isolation of the 20 percent who are ethnic Russian and Moscow’s ability to play that group against the Kazakhstan state.

According to the minister, 91 percent of government documents are now issued in Kazakh, and 72 percent of the mass media are in the national language.

And Kazakhstan residents are moving from bilingualism with Russian to tri-lingualism with other languages.

Kazakhstan, a republic in which ethnic Russians formed a plurality of the population until the mid-1980s and the Russian language was predominant until recently, has worked hard to promote knowledge of Kazakh. It has opened 89 regional centers to provide instruction to adults and pushed Kazakh in the schools.

For Astana, this is not just about nation building but about national security.

Moscow on occasion has sought to mobilize ethnic Russians against the Kazakhs and some activists have even threatened to partition the country along ethnic lines. But if Russians are learning Kazakh as often as the minister’s figures suggest, it will be far harder for Moscow to do so in the future.

Russians who speak the language of the country of which they are resident are far more likely to feel integrated and far less likely to heed the siren song of Moscow to oppose the titular nationality.

That is why so many of the countries around Russia’s periphery have promoted their national languages.

They recognize that until Russians learn the local languages, they may be mobilized against the state by a Kremlin that has made language central to its definition of “the Russian world.” It is in this context that the efforts of Latvia to promote Latvian should be understood (cf.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  1. Avatar W8post says:

    Did they read this article in Ukraine, too?

    1. Avatar MichaelA says:

      that depends – how many ukrainians read english language media?
      language didnt help putin in donbass because most of those who opposed him were russian speakers
      too often the kremlin believes its own propaganda

      1. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

        Not only do the Putinistas believe in their own propaganda but they are also bullies and with the possible exception of the weak minded, bullies are universally despised. That in turn is part of the reason why Russia will not return to the international scene as a respected great power. All that they have to offer is never ending misery.

      2. Avatar W8post says:

        it’s NOT about ENGLISH! it’s about RUSSIAN!
        (they are MUCH smarter in Kazakhstan than in UA!)

        1. Avatar MichaelA says:

          they might be smarter but they are less free in kazakhstan

          1. Avatar W8post says:

            then you better ask POROSHENKO what ‘freedom’ means in today’s Ukraine!
            or, better still, ask SAAKASHVILI…

          2. Avatar MichaelA says:

            they would probably come up with different answers
            but it doesnt change the fact that there is more freedom in ukraine than in glorious nation of kazakhstan

  2. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    Most investment in Kazakhstan comes from China now.

  3. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    Putin can’t risk pissing off China by invading Kazakhstan.

    1. Avatar W8post says:

      Kazakhstan is ESSENTIAL (railroad) for China to ‘invade’ the WEST.
      Khorghos, the biggest DRY PORT in the world (border Kazakhstan / China)