chapter  9
17 Pages

Commensals or Parasites? Russians, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, and Others in Central Asia

ByEdward Allworth

In an enforced multi-ethnic union such as the former Russia-dominated Soviet Union, one ethnic group appeared to feed on another. That capacity of Russian influence to demoralize non-Russian society also appears to have destroyed Central Asians' ideas of community that once gave a greater sense of coherence than at present to the populace of the region. Soviet Russians inherited from the Tsarist predecessors several assumptions that contribute to the complexity of the relations between them and Central Asians on the territory of the former Soviet Union. The Russian Republic presently acts independently of the former center but rather paternalistically toward some non-Russian republics such as Armenia and Kazakhstan. Central Asians and others regard the non-Russian nationalities of central Russia and Siberia virtually as agents of Russification. This presents a strange paradox, for it was precisely the Russians who insisted that Central Asian Karakalpaks, Kirghiz, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and the like adopt Russian-style monoethnicity in place of their traditional supraethnic heterogeneity.