In late October, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree to switch the country’s official alphabet from Cyrillic to Latin.
The president’s office said that the government will appoint a national commission to “ensure a gradual transition of the Kazakh alphabet to the Latin-based script until 2025”.
The former Soviet Republic declared independence in 1991. Its state language is Kazakh. However, Russian is widely spoken across its country and its second official language.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin met with Nazarbayev in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in November. The sides “discussed urgent bilateral and international issues.” No doubts Kazakhstan’s transition to Latin alphabet was one of the discussed issues.
According to experts, in the medium term, the Kazakh decision will lead to a decrease of the Russian cultural influence/soft power in the country.
Right now, Russia is in a weak position. Despite the de-facto victory in Syria, and a strong stance in the Middle East, Russia faces a number of internal problems amid the upcoming 2018 Russian presidential election. The ideas of the so-called “Russian World” is significantly descredited by some actions of local authorities in eastern Ukraine (DPR and LPR). The US-led block contributes additional efforts to influence the internal situation in Russia and expands its funding to “opposition” movements. At the same time, Russia faces the steadily increasing pressure from sanctions imposed on it by the US and its allies. The US-Russian diplomatic relations are deteriorating.
All these factors will not allow Russia to react appropriately to the recent Kazakh moves in a way which would lead to defend in an efficient way the interests of the Russian-speaking population of the country and to keep its cultural influence over there.
The article was edited on Nov.14