By Orkhan Amashov
Armenians from all walks of life, ranging from keyboard warriors and pundits of dubious credentials to commentators of some repute and politicians, appear to enjoy schadenfreude at the topsy-turvy state of affairs entrapping Kazakhstan.
Signs of enchantment are particularly rife within the Armenophile segment of the Russian establishment. The views expressed by Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the English language news network RT and Sputnik, both owned and funded by the Russian government, were perhaps the apex of the anti-Kazakh hysteria.
She unceremoniously, in an affected manner befitting a hysterical provocateur, put forward six “conditions” in return for Russian military assistance. The demands, expressed in the most aggressive-militant fashion, include the recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia, the installation of Russian as a second state language, the protection of Russian schools, a return to the Cyrillic alphabet, loyalty to the boss, by whom she meant Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the suppression of Kazakh nationalists, to whom she referred to as “Nazis”.
The puerile Armenian jubilation at the expense of the recent Kazakh upheaval and Simonyan’s ultimata, which have also been voiced by many others of her ilk, are not a mere expression of pointless disdain. The memory of Nur-Sultan’s support for Azerbaijan in the Second Karabakh War is fresh and not likely to be forgotten soon.
In addition, Kazakhstan is a Turkic nation, which Turcophobe Armenians have long been in the habit of describing as a country of “uncultivated barbarians”, who were civilised thanks to Russian subjugation, and, interestingly enough, some invented Armenian cultural mission. This mindset has given rise to vicious attacks, aimed at casting aspersions on the legitimacy and righteousness of the Kazakh nation-building process.
Some may think that the attention ascribed to Simonyan’s bombastic utterances is disproportionate, as the Russian public view is multilayered. One is bound to beg to differ. What she says matters a great deal, as she is not a mere journalist driven by incurable prejudices. She may not be an official spokesperson for the Kremlin, but she is entrusted with the strategic function of running a vital Muscovite information war instrument. Whatever she says as to foreign policy and other issues, she says in that capacity.
Simonyan belongs to the cast of individuals who are at the heart of the establishment, and yet are not officially in power. They are in a uniquely advantageous position to enjoy the publicity, access to federal TV channels and say unorthodox and quite often outrageous statements not befitting those encumbered with official duties.
She, the veteran politician Vladimir Jirinovsky and others are quite often perceived as ones whose duty is to forge a prelude to official asseverations of the same content, albeit voiced in milder language. Simonyan is not the official face of the Russian state, but she is part of its system, with which she is inextricably connected.
Her carefully cultivated public persona entails a dangerous toxic substratum in which both dormant Russian supremacist pretensions and Armenophile aspirations happen to be firmly entrenched.
Some accuse Simonyan of trying to be more Russian than most ethnic Russians themselves. At first glance, such a remark may be perceived as unworthy, as she was born and bred in Russia and perfectly entitled to feel as Russian as anyone else.
And, after all, national identity, in advanced civil societies, is no longer exclusively about “blood and soil”, but of the way one feels, about a sense of belonging. Simonyan’s case is different. Throughout the years, she has done everything humanly conceivable to pass as a “Hurray Tsar” patriot. She has gone as far as to admit she is of imperial Russian mindset and proud of it, to boot.
Simonyan could be accused of stirring unrest in many ways, but not of lack of intellect. She knows the weaknesses of the western commentators entrapped in the confines of their own culture wars. She has mastered the technique of appealing to some legitimate Russian concerns, emboldening their just rasion d’être with excessive embellishments so as to achieve a larger distortion founded on the basis of grains of truth. This is what is called a propaganda which does not care for objectivity. It is always about the importance of looking objective, rather than being objective.
She has not got the subtlety and gallant imperturbability of Soviet-age Vladimir Pozner, a former propagandist. Her craft is different. Simonyan's art is designed to provoke and cause anger and feed on this reaction. She has attained integrity of her own, the key creed of which is the principle of continuous and harmonious deceit.
But when it comes to her opinionated rot as to Kazakhstan, her propaganda fails to fulfill its main objective - serving Russia through the information war. No self-respecting Kazakh with a sense of dignity would have found himself induced to think nicely of the Kremlin’s intentions on the basis of her propagandist lechery.
The anti-Kazakh feelings of Simonyan and others of her kind are deeply intertwined with a specifically Armenian hatred of Muslim-Turkic entities. It has very little, if anything, to do with genuine sympathy with the plight of their historic homeland.
Armenia is enfeebled. Its expatriate diaspora is disgruntled and in a continuous state of hysteria. The unrest in Kazakhstan might have provided some relief, but it has not sorted out any of Armenia's urgent needs or issues. It has perhaps revealed pitiful degradation and vacuity. When joy is derived from embellishing the troubles of others, the future is no more than bleak.
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