ISSN 2330-717X

Kazakhstan Faces ‘Threat Of Losing Its Statehood’? – OpEd

By

On 25 February,  just two days after Russian invasion of Ukraine had began, Sputnik Kazakhstan, Russian state-owned news agency’s unit in the Central Asian country, published a piece entitled ‘De-Nazification of Ukraine just means its liberation’ (‘Denatsifikatsiya eto i est osvobozhdenie Ukrainy’). In less than a month, there was already a call uttered by a Moscow City Duma member to replicate such an approach with regard to Kazakhstan. Well, like they say, never mind the Central Asian country was and still is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a six-member security bloc headed by Moscow, and the Eurasian Economic Union trade bloc.

Advertisement

The call for expanding the scope of the ‘liberating’ actions was launched by Moscow City Duma deputy officer Sergei Savostyanov. MP said that the Russian invasion would ‘ensure the security of Ukraine, Russia and Europe’, and he therefore proposed to expand the scope of ‘de-Nazification and demilitarization’ to a few more countries. Among them, he singled out the Baltic nations, Poland, Kazakhstan and Moldova. The Central Asian country is not alone in facing the new threat of invasion. But there’s something that must be taken into account. Four of the countries on Sergei Savostyanov’s list, namely the Baltic States and Poland, are already protected by NATO’s commitment to defend its members in the event of an attack. For this reason, the Russian power will unlikely make a move on them. The fifth one, Moldova, does not have common borders with the Russian Federation. So presumably, what the Russian MP had essentially in mind, speaking about expanding the scope of ‘de-Nazification and demilitarization’ to a few more countries, was Kazakhstan. Because all other options for expanding the scope of the ‘liberating’ actions by Russia, included in his list, seem to be either not feasible or be much too costly.

Why should Ukraine and some other countries, at the will of Russian politicians, undergo some sort of ‘de-Nazification’ process? And what does the latter means in the context of current realities?

Some of the Russian politicians also appear to be bewildered with the declared objective of achieving the ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine. Here is what, for instance, the leader of the For New Socialism movement Nikolai Platoshkin, he himself a firm believer in the need to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine following the example of the Anglo-American occupation of Germany, said in that respect: “Who is to conduct the process of ‘de-Nazification’? Are these Vlasovites (followers of Andrei Vlasov, a turncoat Soviet general who went over to Hitler’s side)!? Who we have as the main hero right now? This is the philosopher Ivan Ilyin, who openly admired Adolf Hitler. Our national television channels popularize this person in a parallel track to the ongoing process of ‘de-Nazification’. We’re talking about a man who believed in Hitler as a kind of Messiah. It’s come to that!”.

This view seems to be quite in conformity with a vision by some Western authors of Putin’s deference to the ideas of Ilyin. Here’s just one example. Solomon D. Stevens, in his article entitled ‘The dangerous rise of political religion in Russia – and at home’, said the following: “In Russia, Christianity has become a tool of Putin, and this has made it a dangerous force. He has weaponized ideas from thinkers such as Russian fascist philosopher Ivan Ilyin, who claimed that Russia’s purpose is to redeem a fallen world from the evils of decadence, secularism and democracy, and that only a strong ruler, unbound from conventions such as law, can save Russia and the world.

The Russian assault on democracy in Ukraine is politically motivated, because it is designed to strengthen fascism at home”.

Advertisement

According to Ivan Ilyin’s opinion expressed in 1937, “fascism does not give us a new idea, but only gives us new attempts to implement this Christian, Russian, national idea in our given conditions in accordance with our views”. Even after World War II and the destruction of Nazism, he didn’t stop revering fascist ideology. In his 1948 article entitled ‘About fascism’, the Russian philosopher wrote: “Fascism is a complex, multifaceted and historically speaking by far not a used up phenomena. It has the healthy and the sick, old and new, state-conservative and destructive features. That is why in assessing it we need to be calm and just”. Then he called the mistakes by Hitler and Mussolini and made the following conclusion: “Franco and Salazar understood this and are trying to avoid these mistakes. They don’t call their regimes ‘fascist’. Let’s hope that Russian patriots will reflect upon the mistakes of fascism and national-socialism in full and will not repeat them”.

This article is included in ‘Our Tasks’, Ivan Ilyin’s most influential book as a set of political essays and constitutional recommendations, which are said to have been reviewed and used later by Vladimir Putin. The Russian philosopher summarized his vision for the Ukrainian nation as follows: “Ukraine is the region of Russia that is most in danger of division and conquest. Ukrainian separatism is artificial, devoid of genuine foundations. It was born from the ambition of its captains and international military intrigue”. It is therefore hardly surprising that the notion that Ukraine is not a country, but a historical part of Russia, appears to be deeply ingrained in the minds of Russian leadership. Timothy Snyder, an American author and historian specializing in the history of Central and Eastern Europe and the Holocaust, noted: “Ilyin’s arguments were everywhere as Russian troops entered Ukraine multiple times in 2014. As soldiers received their mobilization orders for the invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean province in January 2014, all of Russia’s high-ranking bureaucrats and regional governors were sent a copy of Ilyin’s Our Tasks”. That’s why the fact of being accused of neo-Nazi leanings by Russia, a country where Ivan Ilyin has been promoted for the last 15 years as a genuine Russian philosopher, exemplary statist and true Russian patriot, sounds like nonsense to official Kyiv. 

President Volodymyr Zelensky has been very clear about that, while commenting on the situation. “When a country that is treading in the footsteps of the Nazi is accusing us of being Nazi – we can’t accept that”, he said in an interview to Suspilne, a Ukrainian public broadcaster. But Moscow keeps insisting on the need to denazify Ukraine.

This whole thing just seems like a strange kind of reason to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. But that’s what it is.

The so-called ‘de-Nazification of Ukraine’ – indeed, a full-fledged war – goes on despite peace talks. An endless series of reports from zones of fighting seems to have led among the Russian political elites to a growth in aggressive behavior and to an increased interest in finding some other countries ‘in need of de-Nazification by Russia’. According to Džamila Stehlíková, a Kazakh-born Czech politician, ‘few now understand that it is Kazakhstan, not the Baltic nations and Poland, which is the first to be endangered’ in view of current developments. In an interview with The Exclusive magazine she said that the Central Asian country now faces ‘the threat of losing its statehood and rise to power of fascism’.

“Now, when the future of our children is being decided, there should be no sentimentality to the common past – to what is associated with the USSR, the restoration of which is what Putin dreams about. With that thought, he is bombing now Kharkiv and Kyiv, and he would bomb Almaty with equal sangfroid, if he’d decided to go to Kazakhstan first”, Džamila Stehlíková added

That is quite impressive. In the Central Asian country itself, there are very few who would have the dare to tell such things in public, and more particularly after, as Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper reports, ‘two Kazakhstani activists were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment each for posting on Facebook commentaries criticizing the actions by Russia in Ukraine, and, according to the court, insulting Russian speakers’.

As for the country’s authorities, it seems pretty clear that they are keen to avoid publicly discussing the thorny issues of the Kazakh-Russian relations. They didn’t say anything when some of the Russian political experts and journalists went so far as to say that ‘there are Nazi accomplices in the government of Kazakhstan’ and to describe Kazakh minister of education and science Askhat Aimagambetov as ‘a well-known Nazi accomplice’. And they aren’t saying anything now when Moscow City Duma deputy officer Sergei Savostyanov is requesting Kazakhstan be ‘denazified’ along with the Baltic nations, Poland, and Moldova. The question is: how long’s it got to be like this?

*Akhas Tazhutov, a political analyst

Akhas Tazhutov

Akhas Tazhutov is a political analysts from Kazakhstan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.