During an informal question-and-answer session at the pro-Kremlin Seliger youth camp on August 29, a young woman expressed concern about the “growth of nationalism” in Kazakhstan.
The woman wondered if a “Ukraine scenario” is possible there if long-time Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev leaves office — and asked what the Kremlin’s strategy is for dealing with this eventuality.
“What are the chances of the legal integration [of northern Kazakhstan with Russia]?” she asked.
Putin stressed Kazakhstan’s importance as an ally and lavishly praised Nazarbaev as a wise leader dedicated to the welfare of his country. He said Nazarbaev is perhaps the most capable of all the leaders of post-Soviet countries.
However, part of his answer raised alarm bells in the Central Asian country.
“[Nazarbaev] accomplished a completely unique thing,” Putin said. “He created a state on a territory where no state had ever been. The Kazakhs never had their own state. He created it. In this sense he is, in the post-Soviet space, a unique person.”