08ASTANA1807, KAZAKHSTAN – POLL INDICATES PUBLIC SYMPATHIES ARE WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1807 2008-09-17 11:20 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO4730
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHPW RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #1807/01 2611120
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171120Z SEP 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3334
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0637
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 0738
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1944

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 001807 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PINR SOCI KZ GG RS
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN - POLL INDICATES PUBLIC SYMPATHIES ARE WITH 
SOUTH OSSETIA AND RUSSIA, NOT WITH GEORGIA 
 
ASTANA 00001807  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (U) Summary:  The results of an opinion poll indicate that the 
Kazakhstani public has largely adopted the South Ossetian and 
Russian viewpoint with respect to the conflict in Georgia.  Overall, 
40.2 percent of poll respondents sympathized most with the South 
Ossetians, compared to just 2.7 percent with the Georgians.  At the 
same time, 39.4 percent considered Georgia's military action to 
constitute a "crime against humanity," while just 5 percent viewed 
what Georgia did as a move against separatism.  Approximately 50 
percent of the respondents agreed that Russia's intervention was 
justified, while only 9 percent saw Russia's actions as aggression 
against an independent country.  Astana residents were notably less 
supportive of the South Ossetians and Russians than residents of 
other regions.  End Summary. 
 
2. (U) Kazakhstan's Association of Sociologists and Political 
Scientists (ASIP) conducted a nationwide public opinion survey on 
the South Ossetia conflict during August 22-30, disseminating the 
results in a September 15 press release.  (Note:  Russia's 
recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia's independence occurred 
midway through the polling process, on August 26.  End Note.)  ASIP 
surveyed 2895 residents of 16 cities and 14 rural district centers 
-- a sampling it termed to be representative of the population as a 
whole.  ASIP reported overall survey results, as well as results by 
region for Astana and Almaty and for northern, southern, central, 
eastern, and western Kazakhstan. 
 
3. (U) Asked which side in the conflict was "in the right", 34.2 
percent of those polled responded South Ossetia and just 3.4 percent 
Georgia, while 33.8 percent maintained that both sides were in the 
right and 26.8 percent found the question "too difficult to answer." 
 In response to a second question, 40.2 percent said they 
"sympathized" with the South Ossetians, just 2.7 percent with the 
Georgians, 19 percent with both sides, and 17.8 percent with 
neither; 26.8 percent found this question too difficult to answer. 
 
 
4. (U) Nationwide, 39.4 percent of those polled agreed that 
Georgia's military action constituted "a crime against humanity" 
leading to the deaths of innocent civilians, while 5 percent 
considered Georgia's response to be a "battle agQ separatism;" 
the remainder were unable to chose between these two options. 
Approximately 50 percent maintained that Russian intervention in the 
conflict was justified "to end military action in the conflict 
zone," while 9 percent disagreed, seeing Russia's actions as 
"aggression against an independent country."  Just over 39 percent 
of those polled found this question too difficult to respond to. 
 
 
5. (U) Asked about the way to resolve the conflicts in both South 
Ossetia and Abkhazia, 27 percent of those polled said the two 
regions should become independent, 12.3 responded that they should 
be joined to Russia, and less than 2 percent said they should remain 
within Georgia.  Approximately 13 percent believed that the 
conflicts could not be resolved, while 43Qcent found this 
question too difficult to answer. 
 
6. (U) The pollsters did not report results by ethnicity of 
respondent.  However, results reported by region indicate that the 
views of ethnic Kazakhs and those of ethnic Russians are in relative 
alignment, as the results for ethnic Kazakh-dominated southern and 
western Kazakhstan did not significantly diverge from those of 
heavily Russian northern, central, and eastern Kazakhstan.  The main 
outlier in the survey was Astana, with residents of the capital 
refusing to answer the questions at a much higher rate than 
residents of other regions and demonstrating less sympathy toward 
the South Ossetian and Russian positions.  For example, just 15.1 
percent of Astana respondents considered Georgia's military action 
to be "a crime against humanity; in the remaining regions, from 37.7 
percent (eastern Kazakhstan) to 43.0 percent (central Kazakhstan) of 
respondents saw the situation this way.  (Note:  Just under 80 
percent of Astana respondents completely declined to answer this 
question, compared with 39 percent nationwide.  End Note.)  Among 
Astana respondents, only 28.6 percent considered Russia's 
intervention to be justified; in the other regions, from 42.4 
percent (eastern Kazakhstan) to 58.0 percent (central Kazakhstan) 
saw Russia's actions as justified. 
 
7. (U) Just 7.1 percent of Astana residents viewed independence for 
South Ossetia and Abkhazia as the solution to the two conflicts.  By 
comparison, 16.5 percent of respondents in eastern Kazakhstan saw 
this as the solution, while from 25.9 percent to 33.8 percent of the 
residents of the remaining five regions agreed with this view. 
(Note:  The fact that respondents in ethn
ic Russian-dominated 
eastern Kazakhstan were less sympathetic to the South Ossetian and 
Russian perspective on several questions than respondents nationwide 
is somewhat of a conundrum to us.  This may indicate a flawed 
polling methodology for that region.  End Note.) 
 
 
ASTANA 00001807  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
8. (SBU) Comment:  The overall polling results are not entirely 
surprising.  Most Kazakhstanis are getting their news about the 
South Ossetia situation from the Russian media, while very few are 
relying on western sources.  Moreover, while the Kazakhstani 
government has given no public support to Russia on its recognition 
of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, President Nazarbayev has agreed with 
the Russians that the Georgians started the conflict and that Russia 
was justified in intervening to stop the bloodshed.  Nevertheless, 
we still would have expected somewhat more sympathy for the Georgian 
perspective, especially among ethnic Kazakhs.  The fact that the 
poll included some questions that may not have been up to U.S. 
polling standards may have skewed the results.  That Astana was an 
outlier in the poll - with its residents expressing less sympathy 
for the South Ossetian and Russian perspectives -- confirms our 
sense that the country's governing elite, protective of Kazakhstan's 
own independence, viewed Russia's military intervention in the 
conflict with genuine concern.  End Comment. 
 
MILAS

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