Kazakhs and Russians in Kazakhstan have different opinion on the events in Ukraine – poll

22 April 2022

Most Kazakhstan citizens, who identify themselves as Russians, believe that currently in Ukraine “special Russian military operation” or “Russian war with NATO” is taking place. On the other hand, respondents, who identify themselves as Kazakhs, mostly think that Ukrainian events are a war between Russia and Ukraine (47%). These are the results of a survey, conducted by Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) and company Gradus Research.

40% of Russians in Kazakhstan think that Russia’s goal in Ukraine is to “protect the Donbass people.” Only 10% of Kazakhs hold this opinion. Instead, three times as many (31%) of them agree that Russia wants to occupy Ukraine and annex it.

“When we see in Kazakhstan 20% of the war supporters, it is important to ‘dig deeper’. And there we see – opinions divided by ethnicity: 42% of Russians and only 11% of Kazakhs support the war – a gap of 4 times. Almost 70% of respondents who identify themselves as Kazakhs do not support Russia’s actions. Probably because they don’t want to be denazified as well,” Eugenia Blyzniuk, CEO of Gradus Research, said.

Another Kazakh social group that does not support the war is the young generation. Residents of big cities in Kazakhstan under the age of 35 y.o. much less support the Russian military actions in Ukraine than other age groups, and less support media messages about Nazism in Ukraine.

According to the Bureau of National Statistics of the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2021 the population of Kazakhstan is 19 million people, and the share of Kazakhs in ethnic composition reached 70%.

“Today, the entire civilized world is shocked not only by Russia’s horrific military aggression, but by its own inability to anticipate and understand this war. Studies of the post-Soviet space were limited, often with a tendency to study the “mystical Russian soul”, toward reading history, literature, philosophy. At the same time, there has been very little research into the causal links between how modern institutions work, how public opinion is formed, and how political elites and citizens make decisions. Moreover, such studies have not often been developed in Ukraine. We want to change this and help the world better understand what is happening not only in Ukraine and Russia, but also in neighboring countries. That is why we plan to conduct systematic research together with our partners,” Tymofii Brik, Head of Sociological Research at KSE, said.

The study was conducted as part of the KSE Research of Democracy and Governance project. Its purpose is to assess the development and formation of democracies, as well as potential threats in the post-Soviet space.

The survey base: April 12-14, 2022, 1,186 respondents aged 15-54 living in large cities of Kazakhstan (Almaty, Nur-Sultan, Aktobe, Karaganda, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Shymkent). Survey method is a self-administered questionnaire in a special application Gradus on a smartphone.