Eyes on the Prize of Central Asiarnby Wallace KaufmanrnIn August, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstanrnannounced that the eapitol of the country would be movedrnseveral hundred miles north, from the green city of Almaty,rnwhere the presidential palace stands against a background ofrnsnow-capped mountains, to the bleak and windy steppes ofrnnorth-central Kazakhstan, to the present city of Akmola. Thernofficial reasons for the move included a more central location,rnlimited building space in Almaty, environmental pollution,rnand geology—moving away from the southeastern mountainousrncorner with its earthquakes to the much safer northcentralrnregion. The many fault lines in the hills and valleysrnaround Almaty are not nearly so dangerous as the explosivernfault line in the population itself, the division of the countryrninto Kazakhs and Russians. Here lies the potential for morerndisaster than the breakup of Yugoslavia.rnMost Westerners cannot find Kazakhstan on a map, and itsrn17 million people are less than three percent of the world’srnpopulation. The country appears to have the third largest oilrnreserves in the wodd, making its citizens potentially as rich asrnthe Saudis, since Kazakhstan also has vast deposits of coal,rncopper, and gold. Kazakhstan’s larger neighbors—China, Russia,rnand Turkey—are all aware that here is a treasure chestrnguarded by a very few people who are deeply divided amongrnthemselves and who have weak loyalties to their new leaders.rnThis huge area is ripe to be fought over. Already Russia’srnultranationalist Zhirinovsky has promised to take it over, andrneven Solzhcnitsyn says northern Kazakhstan, its predominantlyrnRussian population, and its minerals are rightfully Russia’s.rnIn late October, he received applause and cheers whenrnhe told the Russian parliament that Kazakhstan should bernbrought back under Russian sovereignty.rnWhen President Nazarbayev said the eapitol should be elos-rnWallace Kaufman has lived in Kazakhstan for over a year. Ikrnis working with the International City Managers Associationrnin trying to privatize Kazakhstan’s real estate industry.rner to the industrialized north, he was also closer to the true reasonsrnfor moving. He not only plans to move the presidencyrnand several ministries to Akmola, but also wants to put otherrnministries in other northern cities. The move would be arntransparent attempt to spread the overwhelmingly Kazakhrngovernment apparatus into overwhelmingly Russian-dominatedrnterritories. The government is already preparing somernparts of the north for Kazakhs migrating in from other countriesrnwhere they took refuge from communism.rnLeonid Brezhnev set up Kazakhstan for its present troubles.rnBrezhnev served the Communist Party for two years in Kazakhstan.rnWhen he ascended to power in Moscow, his Kazakhrncomrade D.A. Kunaev began to accumulate power as firstrnsecretary in Kazakhstan and the first Kazakh ever to sit on thernPolitburo. By 1981, Kazakhs had been appointed to 60rnpercent of the republic’s cabinet posts. Kunaev cashed inrnpolitically on his loyalty to Brezhnev and the party. He wasrnrewarded by massive funding for public works and by morernnomenklatura positions for Kazakhs. Brezhnev effectively gavernthe government of Kazakhstan to the Kazakh minority.rnKunaev did not survive perestroika, but his legacy did.rnThe division between the Kazakh and Russian peoples liesrnbeneath a tranquil surface that has barely rumbled in the pastrn60 years. The government denies that the fault is deep or dangerous.rnBut denial no more disproves its existence than thernpresence of new buildings in San Francisco disproves the SanrnAndreas fault. Like the San Andreas, the Kazakhstan ethnicrnfault line, however peaceful at the moment, is obvious to therneye.rnFirst, people think of themselves and advertise themselvesrnnot as Kazakhstanis, citizens of a country, but as Kazakhs andrnRussians, and occasionally as Germans, Uighurs, Poles, Koreans,rnor Ukrainians. Of 56 personal ads in a recent issue ofrnthe Capitol’s largest paper, Karavan, 75 percent identify tiiernadvertiser as “Kazakh” or “Russian” or “European.” Languagerndifferences do not cause this division, since all the ads are inrn18/CHRONICLESrnrnrn