Kazakhstan: Here Comes the Bride – As Long as the Groom’s Not Chinese
Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is fond of vaunting tolerance and ethnic harmony as among his country’s greatest achievements -- but it seems that for some of his citizens tolerance does not extend to foreigners. One concerned “patriot” has approached Nazarbayev’s right-hand man, Prime Minister Karim Masimov, to urge punishment for any citizen found committing the foul deed of marrying a foreigner.“As a patriot of my country, I am concerned for its security,” a certain Arman Turdaliyev writes on Masimov’s blog.“Citizens of other states are seeking through all means to come to Kazakhstan and receive our citizenship,” he continues. “The most popular means is marriage to a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan.”It seems, though, that Turdaliyev is not necessarily concerned about all citizens of Kazakhstan -- it is mainly “Almaty Kazakh women” who are falling for this trick, out of “financial considerations.” As for the foreigners who are streaming in and stealing the women of Kazakhstan to gain its much-desired citizenship, it turns out the perennial bogeyman is to blame -- China. “Thousands of Chinese have received citizenship in this way in Almaty already,” the outraged Turdaliyev claims. Luckily, he has a solution -- a law that would deprive nationals of their Kazakh citizenship if they marry foreigners, which would “stop ‘quiet’ Chinese expansion into Kazakhstan, as well as [immigration from] other undesirable countries (countries of Southeast Asia, countries of the Middle East, Africa and the Caucasus).”The topic of Chinese economic muscle is a raw one in Kazakhstan, where the Middle Kingdom controls approximately a quarter of the country’s oil and gas reserves.But, as the Ekspress K newspaper points out, it is hardly appropriate to talk about “the targeted expansion of foreign grooms” for now: Out of 144,000 marriages in Kazakhstan in 2010, just 8,300 of them were to foreigners, mostly from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.Masimov has not yet deigned to respond to the odd proposal – but foreign grooms have been warned: Their fiancées may love them, but not everyone welcomes them in Kazakhstan.