History of Kazakhstan

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The location of Kazakhstan

The history of Kazakhstan describes the human past in Eurasia's largest segment of the steppe belt, home and crossroads for numerous human groups throughout history. Human activity in the region began with the extinct Pithecanthropus and Sinanthropus 1 mln – 800,000 in the Karatau Mountains, Caspian and Balkhash areas, Neanderthals 140 – 40 thousand years ago in the Karatau Mountains and Central Kazakhstan, and the arrival of the modern Homo Sapiens 40 – 12 thousand years ago in Southern, Central, and Eastern Kazakhstan. After the end of the Last glacial period, 12.5 – 5 thousand years ago, human settlement spread across the whole of Kazakhstan, eventually leading to the extinction of large animals (mammoth, woolly rhinoceros). The hunter-gatherer communes invented bows and boats, and used domesticated wolves and traps for hunting.

The Neolithic Revolution was marked by the appearance of animal husbandry and agriculture, giving rise to the Atbasar, Kelteminar, Botai, Mokanjar, Ust-Narym, and other cultures. The Botai culture (3600–3100 BCE) is credited with the first domestication of horses. Ceramics and polished stone tools also appeared during this period. The 4th – 3rd millennia witnessed the beginning of metal production, manufacture of copper tools, and use of casting molds. In the 2nd millennium, ore mining developed in Central Kazakhstan.

The change of climatic conditions forced massive relocations of populations in and out of the steppe belt. The aridization period that lasted from the end of the 2nd millennium to the beginning of the 1st millennium BCE caused depopulation of the arid belts and river valley oasis areas. Populations in these areas moved north to the forest-steppe zone. New populations migrated into the Kazakhstan region with the end of the arid period during the beginning of the 1st millennia BCE, repopulating abandoned areas from the west and the east.

In the 3rd century BCE the rising Hunnic Empire included the whole of Kazakhstan among its territories. Soon after its creation, the Hunnic Empire absorbed 26 independent territorial possessions, uniting various steppe and forest peoples into a single state. After the demise of the Eastern Hunnic Empire, the Tele people of Kazakhstan, known in Chinese annals as Tiele, formed tribal unions that became an important new regional power. In the 6th century CE the people of Kazakhstan were again absorbed into a new political state, the Turkic Kaganate, that controlled approximately the same area as the Eastern Hunnic Empire. Subsequently, large portions of Kazakhstan were ruled in sequence by the Uigur and Kirgiz Kaganates.

During the Early Middle Ages, a number of independent states also flourished in Kazakhstan, the best known being Kangar union, Oghuz Yabgu State, and Kara-Khanid Kaganate. In the 13th century Kazakhstan fell under the dominion of the Mongol Empire, and remained in the sphere of the Mongol successor states for 300 years. Beginning in the 16th century, parts of Kazakhstan were annexed by the Russian Empire, and what territory remained was gradually absorbed into Russian Turkestan, starting in 1867. The modern Republic of Kazakhstan was separated into a new political entity during the Soviet subdivision of the Russian Turkestan in the 1930s.

Prehistory[edit]

A cataphract-style parade armor of a Saka royal from the Issyk kurgan.

Humans have inhabited present-day Kazakhstan since the earliest Stone Age, generally pursuing the nomadic pastoralism for which the region's climate and terrain are best suited.[curtis 1] Prehistoric Bronze Age cultures that extended onto Kazakh territory include the Srubna culture, the Afanasevo culture and the Andronovo culture. Between 500 BC and 500 AD, Kazakhstan was home to the early nomadic warrior cultures: the Saka and the Huns.

1st century to 8th century[edit]

According to Tacitus, the Huns of Kushan were already in the Turan lowlands of Atyrau Province by 91AD. By the early 4th century AD, a Kushan noble called Malkar of Khi, had become leader of the Huns settled there. Malkar is accredited with first leading the Huns into the Volga Delta where they found the Alans. In alliance with Dulo the Alan king, Malkar went on to forge ten tribes into the first proto-Turkic tribal confederation. The Dulo clan's first proto-Turkic Empire spread its influence as far south as the sub-continent under the Kitolo and as far west as Central Europe under Attila's Dulo.

Wresting control of Turkmenistan from the Sasanian Empire in the 5th century AD, Malkar's "Dulo" Confederation of Ten Tribes caused a migration of Khurasanis into Dagestan as the Caucasian Avars. As a result of this backfire, the Sabirs settled there were forced to attack the Alan strongholds of the Dulo Ten Tribe Confederation in the Kuban steppe. To strengthen their position, Malkar's Confederation of Ten Tribes now under the leadership of Ernakh entered into an alliance with Byzantium at Phanagoria in the 460s AD. In the 550s AD, the Caucasian Avars pushed further conquering Phanagoria and forcing Sarosios of the Alans to petition Byzantium for land.

Within a few years, the Dulo "Ten Tribe" Confederation in Atyrau Province allied themselves to the Ashinas forming the Western part of the Gokturk Empire and were able to snatch Phanagoria back from the Avars renaming the Sabirs as Khazars under the rule of Kaghan Kazarig. By exposing the Avars' close ties to Persia, once again the Ten Tribes of the Dulo clan entered into alliance with Byzantium. The earliest well-documented state in the region was the Turkic Kaganate, or Gokturk, Köktürk state, established by the Ashina clan, which came into existence in the 6th century AD. However, the Dulo clans Ten Tribes soon seceded from the Gokturks to become the Western Turkic Kaghanate which thrived until 630s AD when they became the Khazars.

Dulo Kaghan Kubrat was appointed to establish the short-lived state of Old Great Bolgary. It disintegrated upon his death, with the majority migrating west where they carried out the first Hungarian conquest in 677 under Kotrag who also settled Batbayan's Bulgars in the northern Volga region to establish Bolgary, while his Balkars settled down with the Circassians north of the Caucasus. The Kara-Khazars in the Atyrau Province eventually sided with the Oghuz and revolted against the Aq-Khazar state to establish the Yabghu Oghuz State of the Kara dynasty which produced the southern Seljuks. The Kara tatars thrived until their dynasty was taken over by Temujin.

8th century to 15th century[edit]

The Qarluqs, a confederation of Turkic tribes, established a state in what is now eastern Kazakhstan in 766. In the 8th and 9th centuries, portions of southern Kazakhstan were conquered by Arabs, who introduced Islam. The Oghuz Turks controlled western Kazakhstan from the 9th through the 11th centuries; the Kimak and Kipchak peoples, also of Turkic origin, controlled the east at roughly the same time. In turn the Cumans controlled western Kazakhstan roughly from the 1100s until the 1220s. The large central desert of Kazakhstan is still called Dashti-Kipchak, or the Kipchak Steppe.[curtis 1] The capital (Astana) was home of a lot of Huns and Saka.

In the 9th century, the Qarluq confederation formed the Qarakhanid state, which then conquered Transoxiana, the area north and east of the Oxus River (the present-day Amu Darya). Beginning in the early 11th century, the Qarakhanids fought constantly among themselves and with the Seljuk Turks to the south. The Qarakhanids, who had converted to Islam, were conquered in the 1130s by the Kara-Khitan, a Mongolic people who moved west from Northern China. In the mid-12th century, an independent state of Khorazm along the Oxus River broke away from the weakening Karakitai, but the bulk of the Kara-Khitan lasted until the Mongol invasion of Genghis Khan in 1219–1221.[curtis 1]

After the Mongol capture of the Kara-Khitan, Kazakhstan fell under the control of a succession of rulers of the Mongolian Golden Horde, the western branch of the Mongol Empire. The horde, or jüz, is the precursor of the present-day clan. By the early 15th century, the ruling structure had split into several large groups known as khanates, including the Nogai Horde and the Uzbek Khanate.[curtis 1]

Kazakh Khanate (1465–1731)[edit]

Main article: Kazakh Khanate

The Kazakh Khanate was founded in 1465 on the banks of Zhetysu (literally means seven rivers) in the south eastern part of present Republic of Kazakhstan by Janybek Khan and Kerey Khan. During the reign of Kasym Khan (1511–1523), the Kazakh Khanate expanded considerably. Kasym Khan instituted the first Kazakh code of laws in 1520, called "Qasym Khannyn Qasqa Zholy" (Bright Road of Kasym Khan).

At its height the Khanate would rule parts of Central Asia and control Cumania. The Kazakhs nomads would raid people of Russian territory for slaves until the Russians conquered Kazakhstan.

Other prominent Kazakh khans included Haknazar Khan, Esim Khan, Tauke Khan, and Ablai Khan.

The Kazakh Khanate did not always have a unified government. The Kazakhs were traditionally divided into three parts – the Great jüz, Middle jüz, and Little jüz. All zhuzes had to agree in order to have a common khan. In particular, in 1731 there was no strong Kazakh leadership, and the three zhuzes were incorporated into the Russian Empire one by one. At that point, the Kazakh Khanate ceased to exist.

The Kazakh Khanate is described in historical texts such as the Tarikh-i-Rashidi (1541–1545) by Muhammad Haidar Dughlat, and Zhamigi-at-Tavarikh (1598–1599) by Kadyrgali Kosynuli Zhalayir.

In the Russian Empire (1731–1917)[edit]

Kazakhs deliver a white horse as a gift to the Qianlong Emperor of China (1757), soon after the Qing expelled the Mongols from Xinjiang. Soon, intensive trade started in Yining and Tacheng, Kazakh horses, sheep and goats being traded for Chinese silk and cotton fabrics.[1]

Russian traders and soldiers began to appear on the northwestern edge of Kazakh territory in the 17th century, when Cossacks established the forts that later became the cities of Yaitsk ( modern Oral) and Guryev (modern Atyrau). Russians were able to seize Kazakh territory because the khanates were preoccupied by Zunghar Oirats, who in the late 16th century had begun to move into Kazakh territory from the east. Forced westward in what they call their Great Retreat, the Kazakhs were increasingly caught between the Kalmyks and the Russians.

Two of Kazakh Hordes were depend of Oirat Huntaiji. In 1730 Abul Khayr, one of the khans of the Lesser Horde, sought Russian assistance. Although Abul Khayr's intent had been to form a temporary alliance against the stronger Kalmyks, the Russians gained permanent control of the Lesser Horde as a result of his decision. The Russians conquered the Middle Horde by 1798, but the Great Horde managed to remain independent until the 1820s, when the expanding Kokand Khanate to the south forced the Great Horde khans to choose Russian protection, which seemed to them the lesser of two evils.

The colonization of Kazakhstan by Russia was slowed down by numerous uprisings and wars in 19th century. For example, uprisings of Isatay Taymanuly and Makhambet Utemisuly in 1836 – 1838 and the war led by Eset Kotibaruli in 1847 – 1858 were one of such events of anti-colonial resistance.

In 1863, Russian Empire elaborated a new imperial policy, announced in the Gorchakov Circular, asserting the right to annex "troublesome" areas on the empire's borders. This policy led immediately to the Russian conquest of the rest of Central Asia and the creation of two administrative districts, the General-Gubernatorstvo (Governor-Generalship) of Russian Turkestan and that of the Steppe. Most of present-day Kazakhstan was in the Steppe District, and parts of present-day southern Kazakhstan, including Almaty (Verny), were in the Governor-Generalship.[curtis 2]

In the early 19th century, the construction of Russian forts began to have a destructive effect on the Kazakh traditional economy by limiting the once-vast territory over which the nomadic tribes could drive their herds and flocks. The final disruption of nomadism began in the 1890s, when many Russian settlers were introduced into the fertile lands of northern and eastern Kazakhstan.[curtis 2]

In 1906, the Trans-Aral Railway between Orenburg and Tashkent was completed, further facilitating Russian colonisation of the fertile lands of Semirechie. Between 1906 and 1912, more than a half-million Russian farms were started as part of the reforms of Russian minister of the interior Petr Stolypin, putting immense pressure on the traditional Kazakh way of life by occupying grazing land and using scarce water resources. The administrator for Turkestan (current Kazakhstan) Vasile Balabanov was responsible for the Russian resettlement during this time.

Starving and displaced, many Kazakhs joined in the general Central Asian Revolt against conscription into the Russian imperial army, which the tsar ordered in July 1916 as part of the effort against Germany in World War I. In late 1916, Russian forces brutally suppressed the widespread-armed resistance to the taking of land and conscription of Central Asians. Thousands of Kazakhs were killed, and thousands of others fled to China and Mongolia.[curtis 2]

Many Kazakhs and Russian fought the communist takeover and resisted their control until 1920.

The Alash Autonomy (1917–1920)[edit]

Main article: Alash Autonomy
Flag of Alash Orda

In 1917 a group of secular nationalists called the Alash Orda Horde of Alash, named for a legendary founder of the Kazakh people, attempted to set up an independent national government – the Alash Autonomy. This state lasted just over two years (13 December 1917 to 26 August 1920) before surrendering to the Bolshevik authorities, who then sought to preserve Russian control under a new political system.[curtis 3]

During this period, the Russian administrator Vasile Balabanov had control much of the time with General Dootoff.

In the Soviet Union (1920–1991)[edit]

Main article: Kazakh SSR

The Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was set up in 1920 and was renamed the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1925 when the Kazakhs were differentiated officially from the Kyrgyz. The Russian Empire recognized the ethnic difference between the two groups; it called them both Kyrgyz to avoid confusion between the terms Kazakh and Cossack (both names originating from Turkic "free man".)

In 1925, the autonomous republic's original capital, Orenburg possibly from Horn-(meaning corner) and Burg- (meaning Castle), was reincorporated into Russian territory. Kyzylorda became capital of it till 1929. Almaty (called Alma-Ata during the Soviet period), a provincial city in the far southeast, became the new capital in 1929. In 1936 the territory was made a full Soviet republic, the Kazakh SSR, also called Kazakhstan. With an area of 2,717,300 km2 (1,049,200 sq mi), the Kazakh SSR was the second largest constituent republic of the Soviet Union.

Famines (1929-1934)[edit]

From 1929 to 1934, during the period when Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was trying to collectivize agriculture, Kazakhstan endured repeated famines, similar to the Holodomor[2] in Ukraine, for which it may have provided a model,[3] because peasants had slaughtered their livestock in protest against Soviet agricultural policy.[4] In that period, over a million Kazakhs[5] and 80 percent of the republic's livestock died. Thousands more Kazakhs tried to escape to China, although most starved in the attempt. Conquest says that the application of party theory to the Kazakhs, and to a lesser extent to the other nomad peoples, amounted economically to the imposition by force of an untried stereotype on a functioning social order, with disastrous results. And in human terms it meant death and suffering proportionally even greater than in the Ukraine[6]

Waves of European arrivals[edit]

Many European Soviet citizens and much of Russia's industry were relocated to Kazakhstan during World War II, when Nazi armies threatened to capture all the European industrial centers of the Soviet Union. Groups of Crimean Tatars, Germans and Muslims from the North Caucasus region were deported to Kazakhstan during the war because it was feared that they would collaborate with the enemy. Most Poles (about a million) from Eastern Poland invaded by USSR in 1939 were deported to Kazakhstan. Half of them died there. Local people became famous for sharing their meager food with the starving strangers.[curtis 3]

Many more non-Kazakhs arrived in the years 1953–1965, during the so-called Virgin Lands Campaign of Soviet premier Nikita S. Khrushchev (in office from 1956 to 1964). Under that program, huge tracts of Kazakh grazing land were put to the plow for the cultivation of wheat and other cereal grains. Still more settlers came in the late 1960s and 1970s, when the government paid handsome bonuses to workers participating in a program to relocate Soviet industry close to the extensive coal, gas, and oil deposits of Central Asia. One consequence of the decimation of the nomadic Kazakh population and the in-migration of non-Kazakhs was that by the 1970s Kazakhstan was the only Soviet republic in which the eponymous nationality was a minority in its own republic.[curtis 3]

Within the centrally controlled structure of the Soviet system, Kazakhstan played a vital industrial and agricultural role; the vast coal deposits discovered in Kazakhstani territory in the twentieth century promised to replace the depleted fuel reserves in the European territories of the union. The vast distances between the European industrial centers and coalfields in Kazakhstan presented a formidable problem that was only partially solved by Soviet efforts to industrialize Central Asia. That endeavor left the newly independent Republic of Kazakhstan a mixed legacy: a population that includes nearly as many Russians as Kazakhs; the presence of a dominating class of Russian technocrats, who are necessary to economic progress but ethnically unassimilated; and a well-developed energy industry, based mainly on coal and oil, whose efficiency is inhibited by major infrastructural deficiencies.

Republic of Kazakhstan (1991–present)[edit]

On 16 December 1986, the Soviet Politburo dismissed the long serving General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, Dinmukhamed Konayev. His successor was Gennady Kolbin from Ulyanovsk, Russia. This caused demonstrations protesting this move. These demonstrations were violently suppressed by the authorities, "between two and twenty people lost their lives, and between 763 and 1137 received injuries. Between 2212 and 2336 demonstrators were arrested".[7] Also Kolbin prepared to unleash a purge within the Communist Youth League against any sympathisers, these moves were halted by Moscow. Later, in September 1989, Kolbin was replaced with a Kazakh, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

In June 1990, Moscow declared formally the sovereignty of the central government over Kazakhstan, forcing Kazakhstan to elaborate its own statement of sovereignty. This exchange greatly exacerbated tensions between the republic's two largest ethnic groups, who at that point were numerically about equal. Beginning in mid-August 1990, Kazakh and Russian nationalists began to demonstrate frequently around Kazakhstan's parliament building, attempting to influence the final statement of sovereignty being developed within. The statement was adopted in October 1990.

Nazarbayev era[edit]

In keeping with practices in other republics at that time, the parliament had named Nazarbayev its chairman, and then, soon afterward, it had converted the chairmanship to the presidency of the republic. In contrast to the presidents of the other republics, especially those in the independence-minded Baltic states, Nazarbayev remained strongly committed to the perpetuation of the Soviet Union throughout the spring and summer of 1991. He took this position largely because he considered the republics too interdependent economically to survive separation. At the same time, however, Nazarbayev fought hard to secure republic control of Kazakhstan's enormous mineral wealth and industrial potential.

This objective became particularly important after 1990, when it was learned that Gorbachev had negotiated an agreement with Chevron, an American oil company, to develop Kazakhstan's Tengiz oil fields. Gorbachev did not consult Nazarbayev until talks were nearly complete. At Nazarbayev's insistence, Moscow surrendered control of the republic's mineral resources in June 1991. Gorbachev's authority crumbled rapidly throughout 1991. Nazarbayev, however, continued to support him, persistently urging other republic leaders to sign the revised Union Treaty, which Gorbachev had put forward in a last attempt to hold the Soviet Union together.

Because of the coup attempted by Moscow hardliners against the Gorbachev government in August 1991, the Union Treaty never was signed. Ambivalent about the removal of Gorbachev, Nazarbayev did not condemn the coup attempt until its second day. However, once the incompetence of the plotters became clear, Nazarbayev threw his weight solidly behind Gorbachev and continuation of some form of union, largely because of his conviction that independence would be economic suicide.

At the same time, however, Nazarbayev pragmatically began preparing his republic for much greater freedom, if not for actual independence. He appointed professional economists and managers to high posts, and he began to seek the advice of foreign development and business experts. The outlawing of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan (CPK), which followed the attempted coup, also permitted Nazarbayev to take virtually complete control of the republic's economy, more than 90% of which had been under the partial or complete direction of the central Soviet government until late 1991. Nazarbayev solidified his position by winning an uncontested election for president in December 1991.

A week after the election, Nazarbayev became the president of an independent state when the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed documents dissolving the Soviet Union. Nazarbayev quickly convened a meeting of the leaders of the five Central Asian states, thus effectively raising the specter of a "Turkic" confederation of former republics as a counterweight to the "Slavic" states (Russia, Ukraine and Belarus) in whatever federation might succeed the Soviet Union. This move persuaded the three Slavic presidents to include Kazakhstan among the signatories to a recast document of dissolution. Thus, the capital of Kazakhstan lent its name to the Alma-Ata Declaration, in which eleven of the fifteen Soviet republics announced the expansion of the thirteen-day-old CIS. On 16 December 1991, just five days before that declaration, Kazakhstan had become the last of the republics to proclaim its independence.

Kazakhstan has followed the same general political pattern as the other four Central Asian states. After declaring independence from the Soviet political structure completely dominated by Moscow and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) until 1991, Kazakhstan retained the basic governmental structure and, in fact, most of the same leadership that had occupied the top levels of power in 1990. Nursultan Nazarbayev, first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan (CPK) beginning in 1989, was elected president of the republic in 1991 and remained in undisputed power five years later.

Nazarbayev took several effective steps to ensure his position. The constitution of 1993 made the prime minister and the Council of Ministers responsible solely to the president, and in 1995 a new constitution reinforced that relationship. Furthermore, opposition parties were severely limited by legal restrictions on their activities. Within that rigid framework, Nazarbayev gained substantial popularity by limiting the economic shock of separation from the security of the Soviet Union and by maintaining ethnic harmony in the highly diverse country with more than 100 different nationalities.

In 1989, the capital of Kazakhstan was moved from Almaty to Astana.

Relationship with Russia[edit]

In the mid-1990s, Russia remained the most important sponsor of Kazakhstan in economic and national security matters, but in such matters Nazarbayev also backed the strengthening of the multinational structures of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the loose confederation that succeeded the Soviet Union. As sensitive ethnic, national security and economic issues cooled relations with Russia in the 1990s, Nazarbayev cultivated relations with the People's Republic of China, the other Central Asian nations, and the West. Nevertheless, Kazakhstan remains principally dependent on Russia.

Relationship with America[edit]

Kazakhstan also maintains good relations with America. Kazakhstan is America's 78th largest good trading partner incurring $2.5 billion in two-way trade. America was also the first country to recognize them after their independence. Between 1994 and 1995 America worked with Kazakhstan to get all the nuclear warheads out of their country after they renounced their nuclear program and closed the Semipalatinsk Test Sites (STS)[3] . The last nuclear sites and tunnels were closed by 1995 and more recently in 2010 President Obama met with President Nazarbayev in Washington DC at the Nuclear Security Summit and talked about intensifying their strategic relationship and bilateral cooperation in order to uplift nuclear safety, regional stability, and economic prosperity[4]. .

The Soviet Union's spaceport known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome is located in Kazakhstan at Tyuratam, with the secret town of Baikonur constructed around it to accommodate the workers of the Cosmodrome.

See also[edit]

Lists:

General:

Footnotes[edit]

Hiro, Dilip, Between Marx and Muhammad: The Changing Face of Central Asia, Harper Collins, London, 1994, pp 112–3.

Mike Edwards: "Kazakhstan – Facing the nightmare" National Geographic Magazine March 1993

References[edit]

  1. ^ Millward, James A. (2007), Eurasian crossroads: a history of Xinjiang, Columbia University Press, pp. 45–47, ISBN 0-231-13924-1 
  2. ^ Kazakhstan: The Forgotten Famine, Radio Free Europe, 28 December 2007
  3. ^ Robert Conquest, The harvest of sorrow: Soviet collectivization and the terror-famine, Oxford University Press US, 1987 p.196.
  4. ^ Robert Conquest, The harvest of sorrow, p.193
  5. ^ Timothy Snyder, ‘Holocaust:The Ignored Reality,’ in New York Review of Books 16 July 2009 pp.14–16,p.15
  6. ^ Conquest, Robert, The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine; page 198 of Chapter 9, Central Asia and the Kazakh Tragedy (Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press in Association with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies & London: Century Hutchison, 1986) ISBN 0-09-163750-3
  7. ^ Hiro, Dilip, Between Marx and Muhammad: The Changing Face of Central Asia, Harper Collins, London, 1994,
  1. ^ a b c d Curtis, Glenn E. "Early Tribal Movements". Kazakstan: A Country Study. GPO for the Library of Congress. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Curtis, Glenn E. "Russian Control". Kazakstan: A Country Study. GPO for the Library of Congress. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Curtis, Glenn E. "In the Soviet Union". Kazakstan: A Country Study. GPO for the Library of Congress. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 

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