Ethnic relations

Kazakhstan is officially viewed both as the homeland of the ethnic Kazakhs (including those living abroad, who are encouraged to return) and as a state of all "Kazakhstanis" regardless of ethnic origin.

In fact, while members of other ethnic groups still occupy some important government positions, real power is concentrated in Kazakh hands.

Ethnic balance

Time is working against the Russians in Kazakhstan. The ethnic balance is shifting in favor of the Kazakhs as more Russians leave the country.

Potential ethnic problems

Kazakh-Uzbek tensions are a potential problem in southern Kazakhstan, against a background of tense relations between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In recent years, an increasing number of Uzbek migrants (regular and irregular) migrated to Southern Kazakhstan to pick tobacco and other crops. Often undocumented, they bring their entire families, including children to also work in the fields. These families are vulnerable to exploitation. Female labor migrants have been sexually exploited. Employers have refused to pay wages, and collude with police to have them deported. These migrants almost always have no access to medical services, and their children are not allowed access to education.

There were reports of interethnic violence in 2007 between Kazakhs and Uighurs, as well as Kazakhs and Kurds in southern Kazakhstan.

Juz, tribal, and clan divisions

There have been local political confrontations along clan lines, and party politics interacts with Juz rivalry. The ruling regime is widely perceived as a form of Senior Juz domination, while the opposition is seen as representing Middle Juz interests. Some, however, see the importance of the Juz factor as having declined. More significant is the clash of elites, each focused on self-interest, and looking to their position in the post-Nazarbayev era.