Why Does Foreign Ministry Of Kazakhstan Act Like A Fiancée With A Turbulent Past? – OpEd


On June 30, 2023, the TASS agency reported the following: “Chairman of the Investigative Committee (IC) of Russia Alexander Bastrykin instructed to check the anti-Russian statements of the former consul general of Kazakhstan in St. Petersburg Meiram Kanapia. About it the TASS was reported by the press service of the IC on Friday.

“The Chairman of the IC of Russia instructed O.V. Bobkov, head of the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the city of St. Petersburg, to organize a procedural check on the information provided and submit a report”, the press service of the IC said.

Earlier, a video of Kanapia appeared on the network, where he spoke negatively about Russia and its citizens. After that, the residents of St. Petersburg called for the ex-consul general, who had [recently] visited St. Petersburg, to be held accountable”.

It would seem everything in the above report is understandable, and raises no questions. But the fact how it had been formulated appears to have prompted questions, or, to be more precise, discontent and even indignation on the part of the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan. Aybek Smadiarov, its official representative, speaking at a briefing on Monday, July 3, said that the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan was indignant by the [Russian] Investigative Committee wording about Kanapia’s being ‘an ex-consul’, as he had long and voluntarily stepped down from such a post. According to Smadiarov, he [Meiram Kanapia] must be undergoing scrutiny [not as an ex-consul, but] just as an ordinary citizen of Kazakhstan.

“This man hasn’t worked for us in a very long time. He has nothing to do with the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan. I don’t know what has prevented the press service of the IC from releasing the information that there is a scrutiny not on a former consul-general, but [merely] on a Kazakhstani citizen. Maybe they wanted the focus to be put [on this], they have succeeded”, the official representative of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said.

It is difficult here to understand the essence of what Mr. Smadiarov and the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan actually may be disagreed with (if to call things by their proper names). There seems to be a clear causal link in the above report between why Meiram Kanapia is described ‘as an ex-consul’ by the press service of the IC and why ‘the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the city of St. Petersburg’ has been given the task by Alexander Bastrykin of carrying out a check in respect of that former Kazakh diplomat. 

A fiancée with a pretty turbulent past is the one for whom it is appropriate to avoid mentioning in public of the names of her ex-boyfriends. But for the Foreign Ministry of any state, it would seem quite unfitting to be upset with the fact that others describe some of its former staff members, as who they once were.

As for Russia, actually it is a very peculiar country. It is here worth bringing to mind the old saying about one sees the speck of sawdust in the other’s eye and does not see the plank in one’s own eye. Many people in Russia are eager to defend white ethnic Russians, even those of them with foreign citizenship, and, at the same time, completely ignore the deplorable fate of her fellow citizens encountering both racial hatred and racial persecution just for their [East] Asian identity. 

Opinion polls show that 55-60 per cent of Russians support the slogan ‘Russia for the [white] Russians’, which was being shouted by the young ethnic Russians after they had stabbed to death Ainur Bulekbayeva, in St. Petersburg. The Kazakh girl was killed in a hate crime. According to her girlfriend, the assassins, passing by the two of them on the street in the opposite direction, heard Ainur speak on her mobile phone in Kazakh and, turning around a bit later, they attacked them with knives from behind, while uttering slurs against the victims. It was an attack aimed at killing, undertaken without any provocation, if not counting the Kazakh speech as such. Is the loss of a human life in this case comparable to the suffering of those ethnically Russian women, who are considered being terribly offended and hurt by an activist campaign to review the use of the very Kazakh language at their worksites in Kazakhstan?! The answer would seem to be quite obvious. 

Yet the Russian political, intellectual and media elites, apparently, have got a completely different opinion on this matter. It seems to be very difficult, if not impossible, to name yet another country, perceived as part of European civilization, where there would have been as many racially motivated murders of people of [East] Asian descent, as there were in Russia in the 21st century. Among such innocent victims there were quite a few Kazakhs.

And there are also enough reports that say ‘they beat him (them) only because he (they) is (were) of Kazakh ethnicity’. Statements about any of the [East] Asian looking people ‘having been beaten or murdered by extremist Russians because of belonging to a certain ethnicity or an ethnic minority or because of not being of Slavic ethnicity’ are euphemistic tricks used by the Russian authorities, law enforcement agencies and media to mask egregious cases of crimes with purely racist motives. For how indeed is it possible to distinguish, among passers-by, a Tatar (Belarusian, Moldavian, etc.) from a Slav or, say, a Kazakh from a Kyrgyz (Altaian, Buryat, etc.)?! The main criterion through which Russian extremists choose their victim in such cases is the distinct racial difference between a person with [East] Asian face features and people of European or Caucasoid type.

Immediately after the onset of the New Year, the VKontakte page shared the following news: “The first 2023 child was born exactly one minute after midnight, [on January 1] at 00.01, in St. Petersburg. For his mother, 25-year-old native of Tuva, Venera, this was already the second birth – her six-year-old son is waiting for her at home. The newborn is a true giant: weight – 3900g, height – 56 cm. The birth was easy and fast. Mom and baby are in the ward and both are doing well… And in 2022, more than 50 thousand children were born in St. Petersburg. We wish our obstetricians and gynecologists more newborns in the New Year 2023!” Here is how Newsweek described the reaction of Russian society to the post: “Russian social media users have flooded a page announcing 2023’s first baby born in the country with hundreds of racist comments, after learning that the newborn’s parents are from the remote Siberian region of Tuva, which borders Mongolia”.

There then wasn’t a single person from among the residents of St. Petersburg who would help Venera, at least with a kind word. Alexander Nevzorov, a former Petersburger, who was forced to leave the country last year and lives abroad now, has been the only one from among those well known throughout Russia who publicly showed compassion for that Tuvan woman in St. Petersburg and subjected racist attacks against her and her newborn baby to ostracization. In Russia itself, opinion leaders, that is, popular journalists, bloggers, television and radio hosts, as well as politicians and other large public figures, did not comment on that case, and this is not surprising. That is a common practice among the Russian political, intellectual and media elites to criticize the anti-racism campaigns that are being carried out in America and Western Europe and say nothing about even the most atrocious racist crimes in their own country.

Based on the above, it doesn’t seem so surprising that in the case of the former Consul General of Kazakhstan in St. Petersburg, the Petersburg residents have been quick to get organized and to urge Alexander Bastrykin to take the necessary steps with respect to Meiram Kanapia. They apparently are only looking after their interests and no one else’s.

Akhas Tazhutov

Akhas Tazhutov is a political analyst from Kazakhstan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *