History of Astana
The settlement of Akmoly (Russian: Акмолы), also known as Akmolinsky prikaz (Акмолинский приказ), was established on the Ishim River in 1830 as the seat of an okrug by a unit of the Siberian Cossacks headed by Fyodor Shubin. The name was possibly given after a local landmark—"Акмола" (Akmola) literally means a white grave in Kazakh—although this theory is not universally accepted. In 1832, the settlement was granted town status and named Akmolinsk (Акмолинск). In 1838, at the height of the great national and liberation movement headed by Kenesary Khan, Akmolinsk fortress was burned. After the repression of the liberation movement, the fortress was rebuilt. On 16 July 1863, Akmolinsk was officially declared an uyezd town. During the rapid development of the Russian capitalist market, the huge Saryarka areas were actively exploited by the colonial administration. To draft Regulation governing the Kazakh steppe the Government of the Russian Empire formed Steppe Commission in 1865. On 21 October 1868, Tsar Alexander II signed a draft Regulation on governing Turgay, Ural, Akmolinsk and Semipalatinsk oblasts. In 1869, Akmolinsk external district and department were cancelled, and Akmolinsk became a center of newly established Akmolinsk Oblast.
During World War II, Akmolinsk served as a traffic hub for the transportation of engineering tools and equipment from the evacuated plants of Ukrainian SSR, Byelorussian SSR, and Russian SFSR redirected to the Oblasts of the Kazakh SSR. Local industries were organized for war needs, assisting the country in providing the "Front Line" and the "Home Front" with essential material and equipment. In the post-war years many Russian-Germans were resettled here after being deported under the leadership of Joseph Stalin.
The city was designated the administrative and cultural center of the Virgin Lands Campaign led by Nikita Khrushchev in the 1950s, with the aim of turning the region into a second grain producer for the Soviet Union. In 1961, to commemorate the campaign, the city was renamed Tselinograd (Целиноград). The high portion of Russian immigrants in this area, which later led to ethnic tension, can be traced to the influx of agricultural workers at this time.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the consequent independence of Kazakhstan, the city's original form was restored in the modified form Akmola. After the capital of Kazakhstan was moved to Akmola on the 10 December 1997, the city was renamed "Astana" in 1998.
A day after the resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev on March 19, 2019, the Parliament of Kazakhstan voted unanimously to rename the city to Nur-Sultan in honor of him. However, Astana will keep the old name until the Constitution of Kazakhstan is amended.
- Pospelov, pp. 24–25
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