How Russia is Perceived by the Youth of Post-Soviet Countries? The Attitudes of Kazakhstani Students

Kosmarskaya N.P.


The article deals with the attitudes of Kazakhstani students towards Russia, this specific socio-demographic group being important due to the fact that, in time, new elites would be recruited from it. In author’s view, qualitative methods, such as work in focus groups, can be an important addition to mass surveys of population samples, informing the researcher about perceptions of different countries at the micro-level. In the course of free communication with informants, meaningful data could be obtained from cultural and family memory of people, their life strategies and personal experience. It is precisely the appeal to personal experience that allows the researcher to counter-balance the impact of the media and social networks on student’s views and attitudes. The article presents the results of discussions in ten focus groups held in October 2016 and May 2017 with the students from various universities in Almaty. Discussed were the following topics: 1) impressions from staying / residence in Russia; 2) the situation around the Russian language in Kazakhstan, assessment of its present and future role; 3) attitude to the Victory Day, the presence / absence of personal involvement with this historical date. As the obtained results testify, there still exist a great deal of cultural-linguistic and psychological affinity between residents of Kazakhstan and Russia. The hypothesis that under the conditions of the multi-vector geopolitical course of Kazakhstan, there may be significant gaps in the worldviews of the Kazakhstani youth and older generations (including those related to attitudes towards Russia), has not been confirmed. Identified are emotional and rational factors conducive to the maintenance of the affinity with Russia (transmission of historical memory through generations, the instrumental role of the Russian language); also described are the causes of intermittent hostility towards Russia and the relevant ways to mitigate it.


Perception of Russia in Central Asia; the youth of post-Soviet countries; Kazakhstani students; Russian language in Kazakhstan; memory about war and practices of commemoration; personal experience of staying / living in Russian; qualitative methods.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2020.01.10

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