Jan 11, 2022
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Mambets, oralmans and Kazakhstan today

Where the nation did not develop …

In connection with the January events in Kazakhstan, the word often began to flicker “Mambet” (redneck, cattle). This is the insulting name in Kazakhstan for strangers, usually visitors.

Over the years of independence, a single nation has not developed in Kazakhstan. The population of the republic is divided into three tribal formations – Junior, Middle and Senior zhuzes.

Resettlement of Kazakh tribes in the 19th century

Middle zhuz – the most numerous, inhabiting the industrially developed regions of the north and east. In addition to Kazakhs, Russians, Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars, and Chechens live here. The language of communication is Russian. The middle zhuz is both “Celina” and the conditional “Siberia”. These lands are rich in copper, iron, bauxite, lead, magnesium, titanium, coal, rare earth metals. The cities are developed industrial centers, the urban society is cosmopolitan.

Senior zhuz the smallest in size, it inhabits the southeast. The Elder Zhuz was the last to become part of the Russian Empire, and the influence of neighboring China is very strong here. Geographically, it is a network of oases with cozy villages in a lifeless desert. In these barren lands, the main wealth of Kazakhstan is hidden – uranium ore, as well as deposits of zinc and lead.

There are many mosques in the villages, the atmosphere is patriarchal, everyday wearing of national costumes is common here. In the Middle Zhuz, besides the Kazakhs, there are many Uzbeks and Uighurs. Few people know Russian. It is from here that Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, as well as representatives of the Kazakh entrepreneurial elite come from.

Young face, consisting of four tribal unions, each of which was divided into several genera, inhabits the western part of Kazakhstan. These are the territories of Aktobe, Atyrau, West Kazakhstan and Mangistau regions – a huge arid desert with rare small auls. It is here that the richest deposits of oil, as well as chromium and uranium are located. The population density is low. It is believed that western Kazakhstan has the highest concentration of mambetov

The territory of the settlement of the Kazakh zhuzes

Kazakhs say: “Give the Elder Zhuz a staff and let the cattle graze, give the Middle Zhuz a feather and let him settle disputes, give the Younger Zhuz a spear and send it to the enemy.”… Among the members of the Younger Zhuz, they know little Russian. They have a relatively low educational level; both in Soviet times and in independent Kazakhstan, social advancement was practically closed for them.

All this fueled the discontent of the top of the Small Zhuz, especially since the Center sent leaders from other zhuzes, especially to the enterprises of the oil and gas industry.

In June 1989, in Zhanaozen (Mangistau region), riots on ethnic grounds already took place. Result: 25 thousand “guests” from the North Caucasus, all of them left Mangystau.

In the 90s, ideas of separation from the rest of Kazakhstan were wandering on the territory of the Younger Zhuz; they made themselves felt again in 2011, when oil strikes sparked riots in the city, suppressed by force. Note that strikes in the Mangistau region in January 2021 began in the same cities, at the same oil fields as a dozen years ago.

One of the key problems not only in Mangistau, but in the whole of Western Kazakhstan is not so much low wages for workers in the oil sector as the extreme devastation of the social sphere. Oil companies, mainly owned by foreign capital, siphon huge amounts of money out of here, but invest practically nothing in social development. The thought of secession from Nur-Sultan is not abandoned here.

A double jump in gasoline prices in early January 2022 instantly provoked a strike by oil workers in Zhanaozen, which was immediately supported by oil workers from other regions of the region, and then from other regions. This rapid spread of protest had its own reasons.

In recent years, not only in the territory of the Younger Zhuz, but also in the whole of Kazakhstan, newcomers from abroad have appeared. At first they were called oralmans (compatriots, returnees). Immediately after Kazakhstan gained independence, the migration program “Nurly kosh” (Svetlaya kochevka) was adopted, according to which 750 thousand Kazakhs from Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan moved to the republic from 1991 to 2010, Pakistan, Tajikistan and other countries.

The main goal of this government program was to increase the share of Kazakhs in the total population. In total, about a million people returned to their historical homeland under the Svetlaya Kochevka program. oralmans… They are now officially prescribed to be called Kandas (relatives, tribesmen). In December 2019, the parliament of the republic adopted the law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Regulation of Migration Processes.” The replacement of the word “oralman” with “kandas” was one of the innovations of the bill.

The official explanation for this terminological substitution does not hold water. So, Auyt Mukibek, a Kazakh from China, a member of the National Council of Public Trust, told a recognized person in the Russian Federation a foreign agent in Radio Azattyk **: “The word“ oralman ”separates ethnic Kazakhs from abroad and local residents. In society, saying “oralmans”, they wanted to single out Kazakhs who came from abroad into a separate social group of lazy people and beggars. This affected the population to some extent. The notion that “oralmans” are dependents began to form in society. This is the first thing. Secondly, the impression was created that the word “oralman” did not bring people together, but, on the contrary, disunited them. So I had to replace him “

In fact, says the Kazakh political scientist Maksim Kaznacheyev, it was mainly Kazakhs who returned to their historical homeland, who did not take place in a foreign land. The authorities provide them with material assistance, provide them with a wide range of benefits, which causes sharp discontent among the locals, especially in the Younger Zhuz. “When the local population sees that the migrants receive social assistance, they ask a completely logical question: they pay taxes, but they do not receive the financial injections and social privileges that oralmans receive. Tension arises. Such sentiments in the Kazakh hinterland have been recorded for a long time, since the end of the 90s “

In 2006 on the outskirts of Almaty there were squatters oralmans and internal migrants of land plots for housing construction. Another striking example is Zhanaozen. In Soviet times, it was a workers’ settlement for shift workers, now it is a city of immigrants with a population of 100,000. We went here repatriation, mainly, unskilled labor force that does not have the skills of self-employment. Oralman “I came to the western part of Kazakhstan and quite seriously expected to get a job as a driver with a salary of two thousand dollars or as a cleaner for fifteen hundred. This is a ubiquitous mood “, – says Maxim Kaznacheev.

According to the Kazakh political scientist Daniyar Ashimbaev, one of the main reasons for the strikes in Mangistau was the massive import of unskilled, poorly educated labor force with overestimated social requirements.

After the unrest in 2011, the Nurly Kosh program was gradually phased out. In 2020, the admission quota oralmans drastically reduced, only a little more than a thousand Kazakhs from abroad were allowed into the republic. However, by this time about a million had already settled in Kazakhstan. oralmans (kandasov), to which you need to add internal migrants moving from rural auls to cities.

And the authorities, who by their policy divide the population into “people” and “cattle”, inevitably doom the country to shocks similar to those that Kazakhstan experienced in January 2022.

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