Kazakhstan 'slavery' incident exposes Russia's strategy in fueling tensions

By Kanat Altynbayev

Aleksei Kotov, who falsely accused a Kazakh farmer of enslaving him for 20 years, is shown talking to an unidentified official in November. He eventually recanted, but not before Russian officials boorishly mistreated Kazakh journalists as if they were Russians. []

Aleksei Kotov, who falsely accused a Kazakh farmer of enslaving him for 20 years, is shown talking to an unidentified official in November. He eventually recanted, but not before Russian officials boorishly mistreated Kazakh journalists as if they were Russians. []

KARAGANDA PROVINCE, Kazakhstan -- A Russian worker's claim of abuse and two decades of "slavery" at Kazakh farm rapidly fell apart in November, but not before Russian authorities seized upon the narrative to further inflame tensions.

The short-lived international incident also shone light on the Russian government's repeated efforts to equate isolated incidents experienced by ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan to the systemic, widespread abuse of Central Asian migrant workers in Russia.

Kotov's tall tale

The news broke on November 17 with a video that circulated on social networks.

It showed a middle-aged Russian, Aleksei Kotov, who said he was being held against his will in Shet district, Karaganda province, Kazakhstan.

Aleksei Kotov, the Russian who falsely accused a Kazakh farmer of enslaving him for 20 years, is shown making those accusations in November in a screenshot from a video on He eventually recanted but caused an international incident first.

Aleksei Kotov, the Russian who falsely accused a Kazakh farmer of enslaving him for 20 years, is shown making those accusations in November in a screenshot from a video on He eventually recanted but caused an international incident first.

His slurred speech makes him sound drunk.

"Mom and Dad, help me escape from Kazakhstan," he says into the camera.

The jingoistic Russian media promptly spread the story.

Kazakh police rapidly found Aleksei Kotov, 44, a native of Yaroslavl province, Russia. He told the police that a Kazakh farmer, also 44, had enslaved him for 20 years.

Police arrested the farmer and opened a criminal case.

Kotov, though, rapidly recanted his tale, as the Kazakh Interior Ministry (MVD) said November 18 -- just one day after the news broke.

Kotov was merely homesick, the MVD said in its statement.

"He voluntarily stayed and worked on a farm, had use of a cell phone and was free to leave the farm at any time," Karaganda province deputy police chief Yernat Kaliakparov said in a November 17 video summarising the police's questioning of Kotov, at which Russian consular staff were present.

Kotov refused to press charges against the farmer, and his only goal in causing an international uproar "was to go home", added Kaliakparov.

Then came the incident that Karaganda journalists are calling censorship and obstruction of work by Russian officials.

A lesson of censorship

On November 17, the Russian consul, a Russian member of parliament and a Russian MVD official arrived in Karaganda to pick Kotov up and did everything they could to keep Kazakh journalists away.

When the journalists who had headed to the police station began lobbing questions at Kotov, one of his escorts commanded, "Don't say a word, Aleksei!"

Kotov obediently ignored the press and pulled his hood over his face.

"The Russian delegation told Kotov not to talk to journalists, and in the shots [of an amateur video] you can see one Russian let the others go through and hold the police station door, blocking the Kazakh journalists from entering until Kotov had left the building," the KazTAG news agency reported.

One of Kotov's escorts, who was apparently a Russian police officer, grabbed local journalist Ainur Balakeshova's mobile phone, which she had been using to film the events.

"An official from Russia's [MVD] took away my phone, shut off the recording and finally gave it back to me," Balakeshova told Caravanserai. "The Russian police officer's behaviour was appalling. I've never seen such aggression."

After the journalists became angry, local police officers intervened and shoved the Russian away from the door, but by then it was too late.

The journalists tried to follow Kotov outside, but the Russians already had whisked him away.

The Russian delegation's actions violated several Kazakh laws providing access to information and banning the obstruction of journalism, Balakeshova told Caravanserai.

The Russians knew that reporters were waiting for Kotov after he precipitated an international incident and premeditated their acts, she contends.

Not in Russia

Russian law enforcement agencies are accustomed to bullying Russian reporters and did the same thing in Kazakhstan, said Yerlan Ismailov, a blogger in Nur-Sultan.

"But here they're not in Russia. Who gave the citizens of another country the right to act that way with members of the media here in Kazakhstan?" he told Caravanserai. "In Kazakhstan these kinds of offences are usually punished."

Kazakhstan might not have a perfect record on free speech, but "in this country the situation with journalists' rights is much better than in Russia", said Ismailov.

"Obstruction of the professional activities of journalists is legally prohibited in Kazakhstan and free speech is guaranteed here, while the constitution explicitly bans censorship", KazTAG wrote November 17.

The news agency urged Kazakh law enforcement to assess the recent incident.

Feeding the Kremlin narrative

Kotov's story broke shortly after the Kremlin-owned newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta ran a headline-making article by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about alleged prejudice in Kazakhstan toward its ethnic Russian minority.

The Russian delegation's actions to keep the Kazakh journalists away from Kotov looked suspicious, said some observers.

The viral news about "a Russian's years-long enslavement in Kazakhstan" bolstered the Kremlin's narrative about supposed oppression of Russian speakers in Kazakhstan, said Zhanybek Asanov of Shymkent, an analyst of international politics at the NGO People's Anticorruption Committee.

"But the exposure of Kotov's lie places Russia in an unflattering light, so they [the officials] tried to take him home as soon as possible, before he made an even bigger mess," Asanov told Caravanserai.

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CHURka (Turkic CHIRik) (chirik) means rot, rotten. Turkish Babais used to call that an old, rotten, dried-up wood, a rotten wooden piece - firewood, a rotten splinter - a LOWLY renegade with neither a FLAG nor Homeland, lawless and indecent, who had gone to the house of his wife - UXORIOUS. Read about primordial beliefs and paganism on Russian websites.


Now about the letter: CHUR(ka) is a Slavic deity, an image of a god carved out of a dry log or a stomp. CHUR, CHURBAN and CHURKA are Russian endonyms known from ancient times. CHUR is an old Russian demigod Russians turned into when they died. It means when a Russian died, they automatically turned into a demigod, according to their beliefs, and the children they left behind relied upon their protection. Then Russians whittled wooden CHUR figurines and set them out around their houses and gardens, calling them CHURKA and CHURBAN. So, as the popular belief was concerned, CHURKA is a Russian idol carved out of wood or embodied in a piece of wood, and Churban or CHURBANY (plural) are CHURKA set around houses and gardens they were meant to guard and protect. People used these words casually but forgot them because they FORGOT something they DID. For example, "don't pour [liquid] 'over the chur'" [too much] or "don't take 'over the chur'." [don't take too many things or ask a high price] When someone crossed the limits of yards, households, gardens, and other property guarded by CHURBANY, the owner would tell the intruder "don't cross over the chur" [don't cross far into my territory], "my CHUR, my CHUR" meaning they called upon their ancestors looking for protection from some danger. &.


And, most important, the pre-Revolution statistics didn't know the term "nationality." It accounted for native speakers of the language. There are two principles for assigning nationality in different countries: the "right of blood" and the "right of land." According to the right of blood, citizenship is determined by the nationality of the newborn's parents, wherever their child was born. The right of land is the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to its nationality, no matter whether their parents are nationals of the state. What nationality rule do you believe is correct? Imperialistic can't be national (ethnic), and when people voice their protest against the empire and the Soviet legacy in the post-Soviet realm, including Kyrgyzstan, they are not against Russians; they are against the empire furthering the West, not the Russian project in the first place *** The USSR has never been nor proclaimed itself the "Russian state", or the successor of the Russian empire. I'll tell you what: the USSR, with its Red Army, obliterated the empire's [army] (and not the only one) in the course of the Civil war. The estates of the Russian people - the nobles, the military, the merchants and the kulaks - were destroyed. The USSR (RSFSR) initially used to be the proletariat's dictatorship. Let me underscore: DICTATORSHIP. There was no unitary Russian state as part of the USSR, nor was there a capital or a coat of arms (it was the RSFSR, where F stands for "federation"). Wha


I don't get it. We don't know who Catherine II was, or why she kicked the bucket. She was no genius. The French-German-Jesuit community handled her. However, after Peter I was replaced it was the same through [the reign of] Nicholas II in the history of the so-called Russian Empire. Russians themselves were serfs in the Empire, used as fodder for the army and taxpayers. The generation brought up by the Jesuit order still rules Russia as the fifth column among the Russian elite. They initiated the Roman club, where they plotted the collapse of the Soviet Union, etc.


P.S. It's about the letter, spoonerism; change; a setup, borrowing from the ignorant ignoramuses; the Time of troubles; Germans - Judaistic Jew ascend the throne = Germans ranging from tsarinas, generals, governors to scribes. *Russia for Ussians* [the commentator makes an anti-Semitic joke, showing that Jews couldn't pronounce the hard "R" correctly]. Holstein-Gottorp, Yudenich, Kolchak, Kappel, Wrangel knew better who was the "former" or the Russian. The Russian emperors were of the same ilk as the founders of the Russian state! Read the Russian Chronicle by Nestor: we are of Russian ancestry. Carl Inegeld. Farlof. Veremud. Rulav. Acktevu. Truan. Lidulfost. Stemir. The Romanovs (the real surname is Kobylin, Romanov was given to honor the Roman world Russia = Rome) intermarried with German knights from the former Stargorod-Oldenburg and its lands. Where could you find any Slavs in Novgorod who invited Rurik? You don't like it, do you? You're not Russian, then. The first Russian emigrants in the West didn't contact the subsequent immigrant hordes or treat them as Russians; they considered them Soviets. We are of Russian ancestry: Karl, Inegeld, Farlof, Veremud, Rulav, Guds, Ruald, Karn, Frelav, Ruar, Aktevu, Truan, Lidulfost, Stemir. Wilhelm II was the grandson of Queen Victoria, but it didn't preclude him from being a German imperialist. Catherine the Great had not one single drop of Russian blood, yet she was the Russian Empress! The word "Russian" came by in the mid-17t


Kazakhs traded as slaves


It's apparently time for Kazakhstan to experience Russian aggression or sign treaties that are detrimental to Kazakhstan. Evil people rule our northern neighbors.


We need to ax Russian-speaking schools as soon as possible because 70% of Kazakhs learn there


[First sentence is in Kazakh] Russia is a country of evil idiots and perpetually drunk aggressors longing to treat themselves to what their neighbour has! Russia has foes all around because it's belligerent and lies recklessly to everybody!


I'm wondering how many Central Asians are actually enslaved in Russia? Many more than there are Russians in Kazakhstan.