Central Asia: Russian-speaking population is leaving due to terrorist threat growth
Such a conclusion was made by the authors of the report “ISIS: threat for the Central Asia and Caspian region”. The report was based on the results of a long-term monitoring of the activities of the Islamist terroristic organizations in Central Asia and Caspian region carried out within the frameworks of the project entitled “Central Asia: evaluation of risks of the Caspian region security”.
According to the experts, the point diffused by Russian media concerning Russian-speaking people of the Central Asia leaving the region due to oppressions on the basis of the linguistic and civilian peculiarities has nothing in common with the reality. Sociological surveys attested that the most part of Turkmens having obtained Russian second citizenship leave the country due to increased terrorist threat on the part of Islamist radical organizations operating in the region and having sworn allegiance to ISIS (because of Russia’s bombings that lead to numerous civilian victims).
Only 20% of the respondents affirmed that they moved due to bipatrides problem. Another 5% motivated their decision by the absence of possibility for the Russian-speaking contingent to get job in the public sector and absence of education in Russian. About 12.3% motivated their migration by the house registration problems. And 1.9% preferred not to indicate the reason at all. For the rest of respondents the threat emanating from the terrorist attacks committed by ISIS affiliated organizations. These people have described the terrorist threat as the biggest obstacle for their further stay in the country. The declarations of the Russian experts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population of the country are assessed as exaggerated. The respondents point out that they apprehend the acts of revenge from the side of ISIS and other Muslim extremists similar to the case in Moscow where a babysitter killed a child seeking to revenge on the President Vladimir Putin for the death of Syrian children. Newcomers from the Turkmenistan point out the other potential reason of the terrorist attacks which is oppression of the Muslims in the Russian Federation including in annexed Crimea. The arrests of the Crimean Tatar activists and forced migration of the Turkish population from the occupied Ukrainian territory to Turkey may have spawned a wave of violence against Russian public officers in Turkmenistan. Dynamic migration of the representatives of this social stratum has induced a collapse of the housing market of the Republic. The survey was carried out on 10-24 February 2016 among the bipatrides having left the country.
Somewhat similar situation is being observed in the other countries of the region. Thus the experts from “Global Security” have noticed a grave intensification of the migrants’ flow of the social category from such countries as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan and even from the friendly to Russia Kyrgyzstan. As far as analytics concerned political stability in Kyrgyzstan praised by the Moscow analytics and the chairman of the analytical center of the Moscow national international relations university Andrei Kazancev in particular is being greatly exaggerated. In terms of impact of the radical Islamic groups it is the position of the state’s pro-Russian officials and namely their position in respect of Russia’s participation in Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts that constitutes the major problem. In Kyrgyzstan there is a tendency emerging within Russian-speaking minorities to split people on grounds of linguistic and national identity.
Hence, there are Ukrainian, Tatar and Crimean-Tatar communities emerged, whose outlook and political position no way meet with those of the “Russian World” adherents. The criticism of the authorities has got more intense in terms of cooperation with Russia and participation of Kyrgyzstan in the regional-scale economic projects as well as in the common security projects. There is also an opinion within the framework of the political establishment that such cooperation may lead to aggravation of the threats on the part of Islamic organizations both in Kyrgyzstan and neighboring Uzbekistan. Another impetus to reinforce disintegration processes within the Russian-speaking population may become the participation of the Osha-originating Ukrainian singer Djamala in the “Eurovision-2016” song contest as she is ethnic Crimean Tatar and Armenian. She does support Ukrainian power and denounce occupation and annexation of Crimea by Russia. The sing she is going to deliver on the European contest is dedicated to the deportation of the Crimean Tatars which is a very sore issue for those who stayed in Kyrgyzstan either.
According to the expert team aggravation of the split in the Russian-speaking population may entail positive outcome for Kyrgyzstan as it could provide an opportunity to precisely define the needs and expirations of the ethnic, religious and social groups and would encourage the creation of developments plans which may be approved by the majority of the population and consequently loosen tensions among communities and significantly reduce attraction of the radical ideas. In the same time these processes could end up with the weakening of the Russian ethnic community that is gradually losing its dominant status. If it does not occur there is a danger that the society may further split and get radicalized on the religious ground including. It may stir up the increase of the terrorist threat aimed at both central and regional Kyrgyzstan government bodies and ethnic Russians as well as Russian personnel. They may become the new targets of the terrorist attacks due to Russia’s position in the Syrian conflict, annexation of Crimea and oppression of the rights of the Muslims inside of Russia.
In Kazakhstan and in Uzbekistan Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar ethnic groups are rather strong. Even though the locals obtain information from the Russian media, rapid development of the Internet allowed these groups to maintain liaisons with their relatives on the territory of Ukraine and in annexed Crimea. In the judgment of the analytics of OBLps it provided them an opportunity to get a general idea of a true state of affairs in Ukraine and to obtain information concerning persecution of the Muslims in Russia as well as Russia’s intrusion in the Syrian conflict. Alternative information is being spread within the communities and beyond. Thereby, the population gets to be updated on what is going on. It also makes the position of the leaders of these states more leveled towards Russia. Moreover, this process has triggered closer cooperation of the states of that region with Europe, the US and China. In the Central Asian countries in 2014-2015 rotation of the ambassadors of the US and other states took place. As a result “doves of peace” were replaced by the “hawks”. Although the consolidation of the cooperation with the US has decreased the threat on the part of ISIS, it hasn’t swept it off completely. Apart from this the presence of the Russian-speaking minority in the region is turning into a real danger and solely due to the acts of vengeance. Approach of the elections in Uzbekistan and a stretched Russian-Kazakhstan border make these states vulnerable targets for another aggression on the part of Russia and its militant leader. Likewise I Crimean and Donbas cases protection of the Russian-speaking population may become the pretext for the invasion. It makes thinking of taking more resolute measures which would be legal from one side and would impact the homecoming of the Russian-speaking population and “Russian World” supporters on their historical and spiritual motherland.
The situation in Tajikistan doesn’t give hope for the better future for the Russian-speaking population. In cultural terms this state is tending to stick to the Iranian world which is closer for them. As a result of Usama ben Laden elimination, “Taliban” movement getting marginalized, restoration of the democratic values on the political market of Afghanistan, lift of sanction from Iran the experts have started talking about the so-called Persian-speaking world encompassing Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan and to some extent Azerbaijan. Hence, Central Asia, Caucasus and Iran represent a particular Pre-Caspian region in terms of security. In the same time Russia constitutes a great danger for the countries of the region independently of the cultural space they belong to – Iranian or Turkic, as it may destabilize the situation in the region via direct diversion (with the help of proxy-powers or ISIS-fighters recruited by the Russian special services) and thus create conditions for intrusion from outside. It will contribute to the further isolation of the Russian-speaking population and its progressive dislodgement from the region.
All in all the experts from “Global Security” consider that integration processes in Central Asia offered by Russia due to annexation of Crimea and military aggression against Ukraine as well as intrusion in the Syrian conflict are crumbling impetuously. Besides they are becoming the source of threat for Russian-speaking population on one hand and launch democratic processes on the other, making the development imminent. However the emergence of the democratic states sharing border with Russia doesn’t make part of its plans and would predictably evoke negative reaction from its side enabling a direct invasion n the country tending to set foot on the road of democratic reforms. According to the experts the turns the region into the powder keg that may explode any moment.