WASHINGTON -- The former Central Asian states of the Soviet Union -- in particular Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan -- remain the most vulnerable to Russian aggression and manipulation, according to a US Senate report released January 10.
"[Russian President Vladimir] Putin sees successful democracies, especially those along Russia's periphery as threats to his regime because they present an attractive alternative to his corrupt and criminal rule," the report said.
"Democracies with transparent governments, the rule of law, a free media and engaged citizens are naturally more resilient to the spread of corruption beyond Russia's borders, thereby limiting the opportunities for the further enrichment of Putin and his chosen elite," the report said.
As such, Moscow has "engaged in a relentless assault to undermine democracy and the rule of law" across the globe, according to the report.
"Mr. Putin's Kremlin employs an asymmetric arsenal that includes military invasions, cyberattacks, disinformation, support for fringe political groups and the weaponisation of energy resources, organised crime and corruption."
"All the while, [Putin] has empowered the state security services and employed them to consolidate his hold on the levers of political, social and economic power, which he has used to make himself and a circle of loyalists extraordinarily wealthy," the report said.
Some estimates suggest that Putin's inner circle has amassed about $24 billion through the pilfering of state resources.
A fake ally
"Russia is our strategic ally only on paper," Almaty-based political analyst Ruslan Zhangazy told Caravanserai.
"In reality, we sometimes observe the Kremlin [perpetrating] unfriendly acts towards us," he said. "This is evidenced by its policy of informational aggression against us, in trade and tariff wars, as well as in its rough handling of the Baikonur Cosmodrome."
"Russia's territory involves four 'conflict theaters': Eastern Europe (Ukraine), the South Caucasus (Georgia), Central Asia (Kazakhstan) and East Asia (Japan)," Zhangazy said. "Russia has already employed military force at two of them -- Ukraine and Georgia. Only northern Kazakhstan and the Kuril Islands remain, [the latter of which] are disputed by Japan".
During military conflicts, the "Russian population rallies around Putin, and Russians demonstrate a high potential for mobilisation, which the Kremlin takes advantage of for achieving domestic political agendas", he said.
"Russian military and political leadership [are mentally fixated on] the geopolitical concept of the 'Anaconda Strategy', which entails the US and NATO forming a belt of hostile satellite states around Russia," Zhangazy said.
Russia continues to be fearful of "colour revolutions" in former Soviet Union republics, such as those in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
To prevent such occurrences, Putin and the Kremlin have sought to co-opt the civil societies of Central Asian states by devoting massive resources to the creation and activities of such state-sponsored and state-controlled NGOs, commonly referred to as "GONGOs"(Government Organised Non-Governmental Organisations).
"Russia sinks extensive resources into GONGOs in countries on its periphery and beyond," where Russian operatives "eagerly exploit the relatively free operating space for civil society to maximise their impact," an expert in the report is quoted as saying.
For example, the Russian government in 2006 established the World Co-ordination Council of Russian Compatriots, which is responsible for co-ordinating the activities of Russian organisations abroad and their communications with the Kremlin.
While the Kremlin's propaganda inside Russia glorifies the regime, in other countries it aims to exploit local discontent and grievances.
Notably, the Kremlin's disinformation operations do not necessarily try to convince foreign audiences that the Russian point of view is the correct one.
Rather, they seek to confuse and distort current and historical events that threaten Russia's image, undercut international consensus on Russia's behaviour at home and abroad, and present Russia as a responsible and indispensable global power.
Sputnik and RT, both very prevalent across Central Asia, are the Kremlin's two main platforms of disinformation and propaganda.
According to a 2016 study by the RAND Corporation, RT and Sputnik are "more like a blend of infotainment and disinformation than fact-checked journalism, though their formats intentionally take the appearance of proper news programmes".
Russian media reports have even gone so far as to conduct fake interviews with actors to paint a picture favourable to the Kremlin.
"Kazakhstan's northern and eastern provinces are under the Kremlin's informational influence," Zhangazy said. "Last year, Information and Communications Minister [Dauren Abayev] stated that about 1.5 million citizens of our country use satellite TV that doesn't include broadcasts from domestic TV channels."
[Arman Kaliyev in Almaty contributed to this report.]
Unfortunately, wherever Russia is there is always devastation and povertyReply
It's time for political analysts to stop lying. I live in Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan is next door. Authoritarian regimes are everywhere, and I can't see the rule of law. I don't see free press. Stop fooling people. It looks good on paper, but in reality...Reply
it's not like thatReply
"The dog was barking at some chump!" [the first line from the famous Russian gangster song] All of Central Asia was, and will remain, under Russia, whatever anyone says! For centuries, Russia has had, and always will have, imperial policies, they are accustomed to pursuing these policies, and people should accept that. We have no choice anyway. All the more so in light of the latest events and new weapons. We just have to know how to work with them.Reply
[The dog was] barking, barking and retreated into the bosom. Under the Throne.Reply
Not only the "countries of Central Asia", but countries around the world, unfortunately. "The most-favoured-nation treatment". Even the jury didn't touch it when "scored" the first point (due to the circumstances that unfolded).Reply
Russia has proved [how effectively it] manages its economy. At the drop of a hat, it builds infrastructure and district heating plants (remember we sometimes have temperatures as low as -40 to -50 C [-40 to -58 F]???), schools, hospitals, universities, apartment buildings, and roads... Russia means PEACE. The USA means wars, diseases, famine, and poverty... They [the Americans] just rake in [money] from poor countries. They are not going to work hard for us "ordinary Kazakhs", they have run other countries into debt and then bilk interest from them....You really can't see this?Reply
Oh, yeah! [Russia] "has screwed us", but has not chucked us, and is gazing [at others] from the Throne with [its] "hungry eyes".Reply
Oh yes, Russia has brilliantly proven how it manages [the economy]. Russia means squalor, wars, and poverty everywhere it sets foot. Russia means North Korea, Syria, and Donbass. The West means South Korea, Israel, and Slovenia. Infrastructure, apartment buildings, schools and hospitals and everything else are way better there. Only a blind, deaf, and dumb person or a Russist [offensive term for Kremlin supporters] can't draw the right conclusions.Reply
Russian [TV] channels have been cut off in Ukraine long ago. What is barring us from doing the same? It's impossible not to notice the influence of Russian propaganda.Reply
There is a lack of political will. The Kremlin and Rashists [derogatory] will start crying "free speech" right away. That's why they [RT and other Russian media] broadcast in the Baltic states and England with no problems. Even though normal countries should ban RT, Zvezda ["Star", Russian TV company], Ren TV, and similar disgusting garbage with no hesitation.Reply
We, ordinary citizens, have nothing to fight about, [if], God forbid, a war [breaks out], they will all flee along with their kids and wives, and that's it. But we will be clinging to our land until our last breath.Reply
"the process has started"...Reply
MOSCOW IS THE CITADEL OF B O L S H E V I S MReply
Exactly! Russia is like sinking Titanic and buying ticket for it is stupid! (after 15-20 years oil and gas cost will drop several times and Russia will crack in the middle just like USSR)Reply
Nationalists are scared to answer people. They also don't post responses to their stupid texts. And where is your democracy, Putin detractors?Reply
This is a narrow-minded, nationalist view on relations, as well as a pack of lies. [You are] sawing off the branch you are sitting onReply
Dear friends, let's live in harmony!!!!Reply
I am speechless my fellow citizenReply
This article was patently written as part of filling someone's order. I live in Kostanay Province, and we have no problem with Russians whatsoever, but we do have [a problem] with arrogant Southerners and lazy Oralman [Kazakh returnees]. And on top of that [we have] zero healthcare and zero education, but corruption and family ties are 100 percent. Why don't you write [stories] about it? Blame that on Russia, as well as propaganda disseminated [by Russia] through the media.Reply
The State Department paid for this writing... they should ask the former Soviet republics - maybe they feel more comfortable with the Yanks...51Reply
Author, it is known from long ago. "Never trust the Russians". Modern Russia is reminiscent of Hitler's Germany, but in a slightly different form. Who needs enemies with a neighbor like this. The criminal Russian regime is a threat not only to Kazakhstan. Georgia and Ukraine know this firsthand. Nazarbayev and Trump discussed something about a strategic partnership, and that Kazakhstan is America's good friend in Central Asia. It will come in useful for Kazakhstan in any case. Our neighbors are very agitated - one up North [from Kazakhstan] and another to the East.Reply
After all, Russia is better than China. We have been in constant step with Russia. China has its own plan for everything, and there is no place for the people of Kazakhstan in [this plan]. There are only 15-16 million of us - a drop in the bucket.Reply
The Emperor occupying the throne remains the main threat at this moment. He is the Emperor of all Emperors! !Reply
The author propagates the American point of view, this is obvious, and some imaginary four "theaters" for military events, etc. It feels as if overseas "friends" instructed this Almaty-based guy to write this article.Reply
These are sellouts who have sold their consciences and their people to the West, and to the USA in particularReply
...[this means] those who have no conscience...Namely Gera, Berlusconi....Reply
The article is right on the money, and everything is correct. Russia is no friend of Kazakhstan's. This is an attempt at revanchism stemming from the loss of complete control over Central Asia, a kind of imperial arrogance and vain efforts - it was like that before 2012, and it is the same now. All these "economic unions" with Russia are no good for Kazakhstan. Why [do we need to] duplicate the WTO? Kazakhstan should go along only with Turkey, Europe, the US, and other developed countries. They have many positive examples to learn from. Russia means fascism, banditry, and evil for humanity.Reply
Yeah, brother, now you are being yourself, a real Kazakh! I am Uzbek and support you, brother. It would be better for Kazakhstan to stay away from Russia, but to try not to enter a conflict [with Russia] ))) The Kremlin will be able to invade the Northern regions of Kazakhstan, just as it did with Ukraine. Achtung!!! [German for "warning"/"alert"]Reply
Achtung! Achtung! Achtung! [German for "alert", "attention"] Here is yet another E N T H R O N E D "collector of Russian lands"Reply
In my opinion, the article is aimed at fomenting ethnic hatred between different nationalities in Kazakhstan. It has all the slogans from the US State Department directed at Russia that do not contain one piece of accurate information. Why are the "color revolutions" mentioned that Putin speaks out against - do Jangazy and his subordinates need that? Why did [the author] mention 24 billion allegedly stolen by those backing Putin? Don't we have the same [thieves] in Kazakhstan? And what is this aggression information campaign against Kazakhstan - why isn't there a detailed breakdown of what it means, or what does the "rough handling of the Baikonur Cosmodrome" by Russia mean, and how is it expressed? This article by Jangazi is directed against Russia, Kazakhstan, and our President in every sense. These are my thoughts, and I believe that many CITIZENS of Kazakhstan think the same thing.Reply
I completely agree with youReply
Jangazy is right 100 percent. Putin's Russia is dangerous for Kazakhstan, and our officials should seriously think about this before it's too late!!!Reply
You are not Duman, you are Durman [toxin]! Did you forget what the Yankees did with the redskins? Blood and death are right there wherever they [the Americans] are. Even Georgia and Ukraine are not enough for you, right? Do you also want Kazakhstan to plunge into bloody chaos? Neither you nor those giaours [infidels] from the States can achieve that! Wise president Nursultan Nazarbaev has already proven that all the terrorists will be annihilated in the blessed, multi-ethnic land of Kazakhstan!Reply
Russist trolls have three common traits. [Russist is a portmanteau blending "Russian" and "fascist"]
First, they Jesuitically try blaming others to hide their sins and crimes, second, they are absolutely ignorant of history, and third, they have problems with logic.
So what did they do to the American Indians?
Yes, once upon a time there was oppression and land grabs, but what was the result? The number of Indians in the States has grown from 230 thousand to five million since the beginning of the 20th century. That's quite impressive growth, right? Especially when compared with the widespread oppression of small-numbered ethnic groups in Russia, whose numbers plummeted. Nowadays, Indians are among the most privileged groups in the USA. They can only to be envied by others.
They live their own way of life, pay no taxes, have the right to get a free education, run the casinos and extraction of mineral resources from their lands, and are immensely profitable.
In actualilty, Russia attacked Georgia and Ukraine, and only Russia is to blame for the chaos.
Wrongful support of that bloody bastard Assad, who kills his own people, is also part of the same Kremlin story. The territorial claims put forth by Moscow in Northern Kazakhstan are well known as well.
So I advise you not to disgrace yourself and talk nonsense.Reply
I am so angry. This incites ethnic hatred. It is not about me being for or against something. Did you consider the Russian-speaking [population] in Kazakhstan? And Kazakhs in Russia? I believe that this is Western propaganda. They [the West] are longing for Maidan [a name of the unrest in Ukraine, the name refers to Independence Square in Kiev, "maidan" is the Ukrainian word for "square"], war, and devastation in Kazakhstan.Reply
This article was definitely written by a schizophrenic nationalist. I have never seen such stupid and groundless sets of phrases [written], even by the potheads from Ukraine. The author is trying to instigate a war by manipulating fabrications.Reply
Kazakhstan needs strong political support from the USA, Turkey, and the European Union [note - Russian transliteration].Reply
[They] have already provided "strong support" to Ukraine. There's no longer a country nor a [normal] life for the people living there [now]. And the Yankees and Gayropeans [a derogatory Russian term used to insult Europeans] rake in dough on the blood of Ukrainians.Reply
Baltabay, you better change your nickname to your real [name]. Why do fascist Vatniks like commenting under Kazakh names, pretending you are Kazakhs, instead of using your real names? Go post your baloney on your Russian websites, there's no vodka here! Talk the ears off of your own juvenlie fascists with this propaganda.Reply
["vatnik" is a cheap and warm Russian cotton wool clothing worn primarily by workers and peasants. Persons who fervently and aggressively support the Kremlin and its policies as well as tend to believe and spread official narratives are disparagingly called "the Vatniks" by their opponents]
Oh, thank you and thank you again, Donald Jonathanovich [the author made the latter look and sound like a Russian patronymic]!!! [You have] amused [me] greatly! Of course, it's a pity that you, spiritless Yankees, consider us (natives of Central Asia) dim-witted savages, but sadly for you, we are actually smart, and can sort the wheat from the chaff. Goodbye, America!Reply
Nationalists are fascists. Do you understand it better this way, Tom? Wherever you are there are bloodbaths, war, and devastation. And you are not Tom at all, but Cipollino [Little Onion, a character from "The Adventures of Cipollino" by Gianni Rodari]Reply
Baltabay, you are not Kazakh, are you :) You, fascist Russists [derogatory], like to pretend to be Kazakh, Ukrainian, etc. on the Internet. But the style of your stinking Russist texts gives you all away! The style of speech and writing of Kazakhs and Ukrainians differs from your Russist [style] significantly. Only Mankurts [unthinking slaves in Epic of Manas] are somewhat like Russists. So don't pretend to be a Kazakh - you're busted. And remember, you Russists who have not been finished off yet - right there, wherever you are, is war, corruption, devastation, political and targeted assassinations, an unjust legal system, oligarchs, obsequiousness, nepotism, [different] laws for the select few but a bad life for everyone else, and so on. The whole modern world knows that! You are devils!Reply
Folks, let's live as friends: enmity, war, and revolutions have never led to anything good - those are matters for opportunists, ordinary people don't need that because they have nothing to fight over. Should anything happen, the wealthy will run abroad right away.Reply
Raise your eyes and you will see (if [you are] not blind): the (pocket) Midget has already stopped. What are you hoping and waiting for? Imagine...Reply
This article, and the comments of those who support the author, are repugnant. [They] beat this malarkey into their heads. But [they] don't want to use their own eyes to see anything objectively`. [They] likely don't understand what they are striving to achieve. And, God forbid, they achieve [what they want]. Look around... Has Russia saddled Ukraine with debts and plunged it into poverty??? Did Russia use tanks in Tskhinvali, and was it also Russia creating chaos in Libya? And Yugoslavia? And Iraq was reduced to rubble under the pretext of fabricated evidence.. Was that also Russia? Thanks to Russia, Crimea lives well now. Otherwise, it would have been destroyed, just like Donetsk, Tskhinvali, Kosovo, etc. by the virtuous impulse to build a new life...Reply
Without a doubtReply
Those who are talking about Ukraine here - when was the last time you were there? Right - 99 percent [of you have] never been. Well, go there and see for yourself that whatever is said by the Kremlin and the secret services media is utter nonsense. And the same applies to the rest [of what's being said]. Serbian Nazis headed by [Slobodan] Milošević started all four wars in Yugoslavia, and thanks to the West thousands of people were saved. Slovenia is a great country to live in - much better than Russia. It is a bit worse in Croatia, but everything is also OK. Even in Serbia, which is poor by the European standards, the average wage is $450 - more than in Russia. All the problems in Iraq, Syria, and other countries today are the legacy of the long-term regimes of their tyrants. Tanks in Tskhinvali - now this is heavy. War in Georgia is one more crime of the Putin regime. Look how Crimea lives now, and by how much the prices have gone up there, the criminal lawlessness with property re-distribution, etc - at least read the local forums. A huge number of people have seen the light. Enough of this ignorant nonsense already. Leave it to the Kiselev, Solovyev, and Zakharova fans and other scumbags. [Dmitry Kiselev and Vladimir Solovyev are prominent Russian TV personas known for propagating Kremlin narratives. Maria Zakharova is the Russian MFA spokesperson]Reply
How come Russia is in this picture? Did you forget that we were all united and fought against Nazi Germany together? There was no racism then, a Tajik or a Kazakh, we were brothers. And what are you doing now? Will Russia invade Kazakhstan? Central Asia? Without Russia you won't survive! Calm down! Crimea has always been Russian! Citizens [of Crimea] made their choice for the better. There was no annexation.Reply
Crimea used to be Turkish before the Russians seized it in 1774. 240 years of occupation is not a long period in historical perspective. Crimea is a land of Turks as well as the North Caucasus, the Volga Region, Eastern Siberia...Reply