Home Expert opinions On the origins of social and political movements in Kazakhstan at the beginning of the twentieth century.

On the origins of social and political movements in Kazakhstan at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The beginning of the twentieth century has seen a further intensification of the colonization and the aggravation of the national question in Kazakhstan. Despite the fact, that ethnic minorities were accounted for almost 57% of total population in Russia, the national oppression in Kazakhstan was the most aggressive among the neighboring States.

The beginning of the twentieth century has seen a further intensification of the colonization and the aggravation of the national question in Kazakhstan. Despite the fact, that ethnic minorities were accounted for almost 57% of total population in Russia, the national oppression in Kazakhstan was the most aggressive among the neighboring States. It could be expressed as a complete lawlessness of colonized people, the pursuit of different national cultures and the forced Russification of the people. Most of the people were left in ruins or sentenced to extinction.

To prevent the growth of the national liberation movement in the outskirts of the empire, including Kazakhstan, the tsarism regime started a resettlement policy; this led to a radical change in the ethnic composition of the population of the Steppe. Thus, according to the census of 1897, the total amount of Russians in the Steppe region was equal to 20% and in 1917 was already close to 42%. During the same period, the growth of the Kazakh rural population was equal only to 17.6%, while the amount of peasants and Cossacks increased for almost 4.5

The penetration of Russian capital into the Steppe region contributed to the demographic changes in the country. Thus, more than 18 thousand workers have worked in the 197 mining enterprises. Moreover, there were about 20 thousand workers in the railroad industry.

The colonial oppression of Kazakh people (during which the duties and taxes were increased, the land was confiscated and a crisis of the cattle husbandry has begun to develop), has led to the growing discontent among the indigenous population. Also, it could be said, that the special situation in Russia made a significant effect on the course of events in Kazakhstan.  The most important factor was the revolution of 1905-1907. The agrarian unrests, which worried tsar's officials, had been happening in Semipalatinsk, Akmola, Turgay and Ural regions and therefore alarmed the king’s officials. The Farmers of Bayanaulsk and Pavlodar counties were openly against the usurpation of communal lands. Moreover, they were demanding the redistribution of the lands of feudal lords. On this basis, the czar’s administration sent a punitive expedition into that area. In June 1905, the military governor of Semipalatinsk area reported the following to the governor general of Steppe region: “The steppe is restless, Kyrgyz are closely watching for everything that happens in Russia, the people from neighboring regions as well as the people from Bukey Horde get into to the Steppe region.”

The unrest among the Perovsk railway workers happened on Dzhusaly station in Karmakchi village, on the Vosnesensk mine in Ust-Kamenogorsk County. The railway workers were striking along with the printing workers of Uralsk in June 1905, Perovsk train shed was striking as well later in August. People were demanding the reduction of working hours and the salary increase. The strike movement was gathering the strength while becoming more organized. The first trade unions were created.  Also, the first Social Democratic Parties were organized in Perovsk, Kustanay, Aktobe and other cities of Kazakhstan.


Social and economic conditions of the early twentieth century in Kazakhstan were inevitably leading to the growth of national movement. It was dissimilar, and both the traditional elite and generating Kazakh intelligentsia entered into struggle to be a leading part in it. By the beginning of the century the main core of university graduates and schools of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Warsaw, Kazan, Omsk, Orenburg stood out in the ranks of it. A. Bukeikhanov, a major political figure, a prominent scientist and economist, founder of the party "Alash", the member of the Central Committee of the Cadet Party and the Muslim Fraction in the State duma became a leader of nationwide liberal democratic opposition.

There was a consolidation of the Turkic peoples based on the awakening of national consciousness. I-III congress of Muslims of Russia was called, the “Muslim party Society” was formed, but as a part of the State Duma - Muslim parliamentary faction was created in 1905-1906. The Delegates Congress of five areas (except Semipalatinsk one) of the region, which adopted the program of the Cadet party, was held in December, 1905 in Uralsk. Thus, the leaders of the national movement led by A. Bukeikhanov, A. Baitursynov and B. Karataev made ​​an attempt to aim the national liberation movement in the direction of the struggle for a constitutional monarchy and liberal reforms. At the same time they criticized the tsarism policy, particularly agrarian one.


For example, a member of the State Duma B. Karataev protested against the confiscation of land from the Kazakhs. He said in his speech: " In our country, aggravated agrarian issue is wanted to be resolved with the help of resettlement of peasants into the territory of the steppe regions, namely in the Uralsk, Turgay, Akmola and Semipalatinsk regions ". While talking with the general administrator in agriculture and land planning the Kazakh deputy asked for at least temporarily stopping of resettlement of Russian peasants in Kazakhstan. But it was stated that the relocation would continue, there were a plenty of lands in Kazakhstan, and it was unproductively used by nomadic people and nomadic way of life of the Kyrgyz (Kazakhs) had to be stopped in the XX century.

Representatives of peasant-democratic direction grouped around the "Aikap" magazine, which had been published in 1911-1915. M. Seralin was a publisher and editor of it (1871-1929). Zh. Seydalin, B. Karataev, S. Toraigyrov, S. Seifulin, B. Maylin and many others collaborated in this magazine. However, the magazine had been publishing for about five years and ceased existing because of lack of funds. The "Kazakh" newspaper, published from 1913 to 1918, expressed the ideas of the liberal-democratic direction. The leader of the Kazakh Constitutional Democratic Party and the National Movement of the Kazakh people scientist and economist A. Bukeikhanov, A. Baitursynov, M. Dulatov and many others cooperated in this party. In the main, agrarian issue, they stood for the requirements of the abolition of state ownership of land and its transfer to the ownership of the Kazakhs, prohibition to sale the land. In the socio-political part the liberal-democratic direction stood up for the evolutionary development of society. In general, despite the different opinions regarding the development of socio-economic and socio-political life of the region, the "Aikap" magazine and the "Kazakh" newspaper were able to express on their pages the nationwide ideas and interests of the Kazakh people under colonial outlying districts of the empire.

After the collapse of autocracy the Provisional Government, continuing, in fact, tsarism policy, could not solve the national problem and didn’t aspire to resolving the agrarian question. The issue of self-determination or autonomy of the Kazakhs, like the other oppressed peoples, it did not even try to put forward. This was the reason that A. Bukeikhanov publicly announced his resignation from the Cadet party in the "Kazakh" newspaper. He emphasized three points: "The Cadet Party stands for the transfer of land to private ownership. The transfer of land to private hands in our conditions will lead to the fact that after some time, as it has happened in Bashkiria, plots of land will be transferred to a neighboring peasant, and the Kazakhs will become poverty-ridden. The Cadet Party is opposed to a national autonomy. We, having held banner of Alash, are striving to form a national autonomy... The Cadet Party is opposed to the separation of church and state, and I support the separation of church and state. Differences on these three items ... were clearly revealed. I decided to resign from the Cadet Party and organize the "Alash" party”.

The leaders of the Kazakh liberal movement, taking into consideration the rapidly changing situation and accelerated process of polarization of political forces, decided to accelerate the carrying out of the Public Kazakh Congress. The first Public Kazakh Congress, where all the representatives from almost all regions of Kazakhstan participated in, had been held in Orenburg on July, 21-26, 1917. There were 14 issues on the agenda. The main attention of the delegates was paid to the problem of national autonomy, land issue solvation, the preparation for the Constituent Assembly and the establishment of the Kazakh political party. A month before the congress there were a series of articles published in the newspaper "Kazakh", in those articles different views on the issue of autonomy were stated. A. Baitursynov and M. Dulatov stood up for the establishment of an independent autonomous Kazakh state. Bukeikhanov gave preference to the Kazakh national-territorial autonomy of the republic. This view was supported by the majority. The first Public Kazakh Congress was constituted in the Kazakh national and political party "Alash". Alikhan Bukeikhanov, Ahmet Baitursynov and other representatives of the Kazakh intelligentsia of bourgeois-democratic direction became its leaders. The following representatives of scientific and creative intelligentsia also entered the party: M. Tynyshpaev, M. Zhumabaev, Sh. Kudaiberdiev, G. Karashev, S. Toraigyrov, H. Gabbasov, A. Ermekov, J. and H. the Dosmukhammedovs etc.

Since the new party was guided by national interests, making the rise and development of economic and cultural life of the Kazakh people a cornerstone of their activity, at that time it became an influential political force. The results of the elections to the Constituent Assembly, which took place in late 1917, served the evidence of it. Thus, for example, in Semipalatinsk the most of votes were won by the party "Alash" (3304), while the party "Ush Zhuz" took just one vote. More than 700 Kazakhs-workers of Ekibastuz factory "Alash" gathered 705 votes, while not a single had been submitted for the Socialist Party. In Omsk, the number of votes were distributed in that way: throughout the county 16,600 people voted for "Alash", 300 - for the party "Ush Zhuz", in the city 80 votes were for the first one, and for the second party - 60 people.

Thus, in the end of 1917 the political leadership of the national liberation movement in Kazakhstan mostly belonged to the only organized party – the National Democratic Party "Alash". Naturally, the process of formation and establishment of the party with all its features was compressed in time, and then interrupted by the rapid development of revolutionary events, that led to the October revolution. Therefore, talking about the party "Alash" there should be such a determination, as a movement, because the Alash movement was the main leading force throughout the national liberation struggle of the Kazakh people of the early XX century.

Tragic feature of the socio-political life of Kazakhstan in the middle of 20-ies of the XX century was the fact that since that time the Stalinist ideological machinery began to implement the wide-ranging measures aimed at eradicating a historical memory of nations and the physical destruction of the carriers of this memory - the prominent representatives of the national intelligentsia. It is known that the peoples of the Soviet East and part of the Volga region used the Arabic alphabet for centuries. In the late 20-ies, according to the order from administration, it was replaced by Latin alphabet, and then by Cyrillic one in 1940. The political persecution of members of the party "Alash", as well as the senior officials of the republic gradually increased with the strengthening of the totalitarian regime. Policy of pressure on the republic increased and became particularly harsh with the advent of F.I. Goloschekin to the administration of the republican Communist Party directed here in September, 1925.

Under the different pretexts, the prominent state and public figures of Kazakhstan were removed from the republic in 1927-1929: N. Nurmakov, T. Ryskulov, S. Hodzhanov, M. Murzagaliev. 44 persons from among so-called former figures of “Alash-Orda” were arrested on a false charge in the end of 1928. Another group of national intelligentsia (about 40 people) was arrested in September-October, 1930.

 The legal process against the following leading party and soviet officials of the former Karkaraly region, which took place in November, 1937 in Karaganda, had a great resonance: A. Asylbekov, N. Nurseitov, M. Gataullin and many others. However, the fates of main mass of “public enemies” were decided at the meetings of the group of three of the Military board of the USSR Supreme Court. The following prominent state and public figures of Kazakhstan were subjected to repression on a false charge in 1937-1938 – T. Ryskulov, N. Nurmakov, S. Hodzhanov, U. Kulumbetov, U. Dzhandosov, A. Dosov, A. Asylbekov, Zh. Sadvakasov, L. Mirzoyan, A. Safarbekov, Zh. Sultanbekov, T. Zhurgenov, N. Syrgabekov, Z. Toregozhin and many others. Kazakh science and culture suffered irreplaceable losses. A. Bukeikhanov, A. Baitursynov, M. Dulatov, M. Zhumabaev, S. Seifullin, I. Dzhansugurov, B. Mailin, S. Asfendiyarov, K. Zhubanov, Zh. Shanin, T. Shonanov, K. Kemengerov became the victims of repressions. Thus, totalitarian regime, which had replaced the colonial one, gained a foothold in all spheres of social and political life of Kazakhstan in 20-30-ies.

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Altin Ualtaeva
Altin Ualtaeva
The senior researcher at the Institute of History and Ethnology named after C. Valikhanov
The candidate of historical science