must minimize USA's influence in Central Asia
official withdrawal of the US army base in Khanabad, Uzbekistan,
and the republic's re-orientation to Russia, it becomes clear
that Russia has been concentrating more and more of its attention
in the region of Central Asia. It brings up a question of the
region's importance to Russia: Central Asia is the desolate mountainous
territory, on which five rather poor countries are situated.
became the vassal of the Russian empire in the 1870s. Five union
republics were formed in the region after the Great October Revolution
on 1917. Shariat laws were canceled in the new republics, whereas
the Soviet government involved them in the construction of communism.
Huge reserves of raw materials were found on the territories of
the Asian republics of the Soviet Union, large industrial centers,
railways and car roads were built there.
of the Soviet Union destroyed the once stable economic links between
the Asian republics and the Russian Federation, which eventually
resulted in the sudden decline of the living standard in the Asian
countries. The republic of Tajikistan experienced a serious political
crisis, when Islamic fundamentalists nearly succeeded in an attempt
to seize power in the country. The situation was more stable in
other Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, but they all
suffered from massive unemployment, which made hundreds of thousands
of Asian citizens look for jobs in Russia. On the other hand,
millions of Russians were left in those republics to the mercy
of fate after the break-up of the USSR.
to preserve its influence in the region: the Russian administration
managed to set up military and economic organizations with Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The republic of Turkmenistan turned
into a completely isolated country, whereas Uzbekistan preferred
to develop cooperation with the USA and disregarded its relations
As long as
Russia was developing cooperation with the Asian republics of
the former Soviet Union, politicians had to come to certain concessions,
which made Russia provide Asian citizens visa-free entry to its
territory (Russia has no visa rules with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan). It goes without saying that many Russians
do not approve such practice: some people say that the government
of Russia should order to build a wall on the border with Kazakhstan
to cut the constantly increasing number of immigrants arriving
from Asian republics.
of politics Vitaly Tretyakov believes that there is no point in
discussing the question about Central Asia and its coexistence
with Russia. "Russia cannot do without Central Asia and Central
Asia will not be able to exist without Russia either. We are responsible
for this part of the world as much as we are responsible for Eastern
Europe. Both politicians and the majority of people support Russia's
relations with Asian republics. We have no right to turn back.
One should not forget oil and gas reserves in the region,"
the director of the Center for Political Research, believes that
Russia is the only stronghold of stability in the region. "The
USA has showed with its policies in Afghanistan and Iraq that
its presence in the Asian region inevitably leads to the growth
of radical Islamism and drug-smuggling. Drug dealers operate in
Afghan and Iraqi governments already. Russia must not let it happen.
The border with Kazakhstan is practically open, which means that
Russia may seriously suffer from drug mafia and terrorism, if
the government does not take adequate measures," Markov said.
As for the
question of so-called orange revolutions in connection with the
forthcoming presidential election in Kazakhstan, Sergei Markov
said that another coup similar to the ones in Ukraine, Georgia,
Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan would never happen in Kazakhstan. "The
government of Kazakhstan was extremely concerned about those uprisings
in neighbouring countries; they do not have any illusions about
the USA anymore. It is Russia that should carry responsibility
for democratic procedures in Central Asia. The situation with
democracy in the region leaves much to be desired, but Russia
has a much better understanding of what should be done in Central
Asia at this point.
not disregard Central Asia in its foreign politics simply because
of the fact that there are millions of Russian living there. "We
must interfere in the situation in the region. There are over
six million Russians living in Kazakhstan, about 1.5 million in
Uzbekistan and a million in Kyrgyzstan. The Russians are a separated
nation and Russia must protect its people everywhere," Vitaly
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