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While the scholarly literature on national identity formation in all of these countries is growing, (albeit still largely fragmentary), a frequent traveler to the region will already recognize some discernible patterns.
But while individual policymakers may recognize these changes, the giant foreign policy machines of the major foreign powers and international organizations that deal directly with the Central Asian nations seem little able to master factoring these developments into the policy choices they make.
Some are common global problems, like climate change or the vagaries of commodity pricing.
Others are specific to the region, such as its interdependent water supply and the fact that it is landlocked and thousands of kilometers from open ports.
Moreover, the stranded Russian might find it quite difficult to locate a Russian speaker to ask directions of, particularly if he or she were on the outskirts of Dushanbe or Ashgabat, quite probably also Tashkent, and maybe even Bishkek or Astana.
Over half of the population in each of these countries is under the age of thirty, and most citizens have therefore received all of their secondary education in their national school system and had no direct exposure to shared “Soviet” values.
Soviet identities have clearly faded away, especially for anyone over the age of forty, and contact with the Soviet past is becoming more difficult, particularly as presented by sources from the Russian Federation.
Access to Russian-language programming on state-run television has been sharply cut back, while cable television packages offer Central Asians international programming in the Russian language that originates outside of the Russian Federation.
National identities are still in the process of being formed and are not yet uniform even within each country.
These states, it was said, were certainly not expecting independence and would be incompetent in sustaining it.
Olcott is professor emerita at Colgate University, having taught political science there from 1974 to 2002.
Almaty has branches of virtually all the same luxury stores that are present in Moscow and St.
Petersburg and no shortage of top-end luxury cars as well.
Regional, ethnic, and religious identities mix with the model of a largely secular national identity that each of these governments is trying to instill.