«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»
N.A.Nazarbayev

On How Kazakhstan Ended up as part of Tsarist Russia

1858
On How Kazakhstan Ended up as part of Tsarist Russia
The Russian colonization of Kazakhstan began long before the official adoption of the citizenship of Russia by the Kazakhs in the seventeenth century.

Cossacks and Russian peasants freely settled parts of western, northeastern Kazakhstan. The second stage of colonization begins immediately after the oath of the Kazakhs of the Younger Zhuz of allegiance to the Russian throne. The territory of Kazakhstan is flooded with Cossack troops, military fortifications, fortresses, outposts, redoubts and distant lines are being built. This military-Cossack colonization was carried out in the interests of, first of all, commercial and industrial entrepreneurs. The developing Russian manufactory needed cheap raw materials and large markets. All this was in the East. We will be discussing the issue of the correctness of the decision taken by Abilkhair Khan on the accession of the Kazakh Khanate to the Russian Empire, before expressing his position and saying a definite “for” or “against” and the economic situation that developed at that time. Then, as today, the territory of modern Kazakhstan lay between the two largest and very strong, both politically and militarily, states - on the one hand, the Russian Empire, on the other - China. And, to restore the picture of the events of bygone days and further relations between the two states, Russia and Kazakhstan, we will first come back a few centuries ago and recall the tragic events of the almost complete extermination of the Dzungars.

Almost simultaneously with the Kazakh Khanate, in 1635 the Dzungarian state emerged, populated by peoples of Mongolian origin practicing Buddhism. It should be mentioned that from 1599 to 1750, the Dzungars carried out raids on Kazakh lands and were not at all peaceful neighbors. During the spring of seventeen and fifty six, the Qing army, led by the Mongol prince Tseren, entered the territory of Dzungaria. Scattered detachments of Oirat princes could not hold back the enemy. Began a brutal massacre. The Manchu army destroyed everything in its path, methodical extermination of the Dzungars was carried out, nomads escaped, leaving the borders of the Russian borders. The Oirat people, the number of which, according to various estimates, numbered from 600 thousand to one million people, was almost completely exterminated. Only fourty thousand Dzungars managed to escape.

The Chinese exterminated everyone on their way - they killed men, raped women, spared no children, burned houses, slaughtered livestock. Soon famine reigned in the country, some began to die of starvation, while others died of smallpox. Dzungaria was literally littered with corpses, its waters were reddened by human blood shed, and the air was full of smoke from burning ulus, forests and grass. Oirat princes led bloody man-made wars. This took advantage of the enemy neighbors. Thus, according to a prominent scientist Barthold, the last nomadic empire of Central Asia perished. The Chinese historian Shang Yue noted that this victory was won by the most ruthless, almost total extermination of the population of Dzungaria. In the heyday of Dzungaria, more than two hundred thousand families, or more than six hundred thousand people, lived, after the military defeat, thirty percent were destroyed by Ching troops, forty were extinct from smallpox, and the dzhungars escaped from death and were forced to flee to the Kazakhs and within Russia. So by resorting to bloody terror, the Manchus seized the northern part of the Tien Shan.

On May 2, seventeen and fifty six, Empress Elizaveta Petrovna signed a decree on the admission of Russian Oirats and Altaians to Russian citizenship. Many of them were resettled in the nomadic Volga Kalmyks. The fall of Dzungaria dramatically changed the political situation in Central Asia. A new page has begun in the history of the peoples of this region. And who knows, if the Khan Council of the Kazakhs had not decided to join the Russian Empire, what fate had the fate prepared for the Kazakhs. Of course, that fateful decision came at a great price: the life of the Kazakh tribes, who had led nomadic lifestyles since ancient times, has changed, the rules of state and political arrangement, which have not yet been traditional for Kazakhs, have emerged. And, perhaps, it was the difficult choice of Abulkhair Khan and his supporters that allowed the preservation of the Kazakhs as a nation, as an ethnic group with rich cultural and historical traditions 

Close and benevolent relations of the Kazakh and Russian peoples have historical roots and are explained by objective reasons of a socio-political, economic and humanitarian-cultural nature. Kazakhstan is involved in the orbit of the Russian Empire from the thirties and fourties of the eighteenth century. After the Volga region was annexed to the Russian Empire, the borders of Russia came very close to the territory of the Kazakh Khanate. Naturally, this contributed to the intensification of trade and economic contacts between the two states. Neighbors were engaged in barter: the Kazakhs purchased household items that were not produced in a nomadic economy, such as fabrics, some household items and food in exchange for livestock and livestock raw materials.

Land caravan roads through Mangyshlak and Ustyurt, the waterway along the Volga and the Caspian Sea began to play an important role in the expansion of economic ties between Russia and Central Asia and Kazakhstan. Trade routes that passed through the territory of Kazakhstan gained more and more important international importance, as they connected the countries of Eastern and Western Europe with Central Asia. The development of Western Siberia by Russia, the construction of cities and fortified lines there led to the expansion of Russian-Kazakh economic and political ties. Through the Kazakh nomads, trade and diplomatic exchanges between Russia and the states of Central Asia were gradually established. According to some reports, in the seventeenth century. Over fifty embassies proceeded through the Kazakh steppes in both directions.

Russia sought to ensure the security of transit trade routes with Central Asia and other countries of the East. Therefore, the Russian government showed a genuine interest in the political situation in the Kazakh steppes and the relations of the Kazakh Khanate with its neighbors. In turn, the Kazakhs, who were subjected to ruinous raids by neighboring feudal states, were also interested in ties with Russia as a strong ally. Discussion of these issues marked the beginning of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Russia. So, for example, in fifteen and ninety four Kul - Mohammed was sent to Moscow from Khan Tevekkel as an ambassador. He managed to conclude a friendly agreement with Russia, which guarantees the Kazakh Khanate protection in return for guarantees of loyalty to Russia. The embassy of Stepanov, in 1595 sent in response to the request of Khan Tevekkel for protection, also contributed to the consolidation of Russian-Kazakh relations. It should be noted that during this period, over three thousand Kazakhs lived in Kazakhstan, united in zhuzes.

Senior zhuz, estimated about seven hundred thousand people, traditionally occupied the territory from the upper and middle reaches of the Syrdarya to Semirechye inclusive. The average Juz occupied the regions of Central and Northeastern Kazakhstan and the middle course of the Syrdarya. Its number was about one thousand and two hundred and one thousand and theree hundred people. Younger zhuz occupied the lower reaches of the Syrdarya, the coast of the Aral Sea, the northern part of the Caspian lowland and the lower reaches of the Urals. The domestic economic and foreign policy situation of Kazakhstan was very difficult at that time. According to Shoqan Ualikhanov, the first decade of the eigthteenth century was a terrible time in the life of the Kazakh people. Khiva and Bukhara threatened the Kazakh Khanate from the south, and the Dzungarian Khanate posed a serious danger from the east. In addition, the difficult economic and political situation in Kazakhstan, due to the ongoing internal conflicts and unstable relations with the rulers of Central Asia, significantly weakened the Kazakh Khanate. The divisions of rivals for power and pasture lands and the cities of khans, sultans and other representatives of the steppe elite slowed down the pace of social and cultural development, hindered the creation of conditions for strengthening statehood in Kazakhstan and significantly reduced the defense capability of the Kazakh Khanate.

In 1723, the Dzungar tribes attacked the loose and fragmented Kazakh zhuzes. This year entered the history of the Kazakhs as “Aqtaban shubyryndy” - "Great disaster", accompanied by brutal destruction and devastation. In these tragic circumstances, three Kazakh zhuz united under the leadership of Abulkhair Khan. It was created by the national militia of the Kazakhs. By that time, the Kazakh militia won several important victories and began to gradually push the Dzungars from their land. In the spring of 1730, the combined units of the three Kazakh zhuzes inflicted a crushing defeat on the Dzungars during the Battle of Anrakai, which occurred southeast of Lake Balkhash. However, the threat of new attacks remained relevant. A way out of this situation could be sought only in strong ties with a stronger state. Abulkhair understood that the Russian Empire was the only real force capable of protecting the khanate torn by contradictions. It should be recalled that at that time Russia significantly strengthened its position in the world community. She had a number of diplomatic successes, as well as a victory over Sweden in the Northern War.

In addition, the appeal Abilhair was due to economic problems. The Kazakhs, who had been wandering for centuries in the floodplain of the Ishim, Irtysh, and Yaik rivers, were interested in maintaining a stable and non-conflict situation. This was necessary to maintain herding, since this occupation requires constant mobility. In the case of the adoption of the Kazakhs in Russian citizenship could be resolved and these issues. In addition, the Kazakh steppe has long been a transit territory for caravan trade between the Russian state and Central Asian possessions. The restoration of traditional trade, its revival was another reason for the appeal of the Kazakh Khan to the Russian empress.

Thus, the entry of the Kazakh Khanate into Russia was a historically justified step. According to a well-known historian  Bekmakhanov, the Kazakh people, who for many years had been facing an alternative - whether to be subordinate to Tsarist Russia or the Central Asian khanates, - chose the first path. This choice was made in an atmosphere of intense political struggle within Kazakh society only after the last hopes of defending their state independence had disappeared. The question of admitting the Kazakhs to Russian citizenship was first put before the Russian government by the khan of the Younger Zhuz, Abilkhair khan. This zhuz was located on the border with the Russian Empire, its trade and political ties with Russia were the most stable. Negotiations on the entry of the Younger Zhuz into Russia began in the mid-twenties of the eighteenth century. On September 8, 1730, the envoys of the Younger Zhuz were received by the Empress Anna Ioanovna. Their request for the inclusion of the Younger Zhuz into the Russian Empire was granted by a decree of the Empress of February 19, 1731. On the part of the Kazakh Khanate, an act of voluntary accession of the Younger Zhuz to Russia was signed on October 10, 1731. This date went down in history as the beginning of the accession of Kazakhstan to Russia.

The accession of the Senior and Middle Zhuzes to Russia has been delayed for many years. Legally joining the Senior Zhuz was held on June 10, 1734 in accordance with the Empress decree. However, the remoteness of the latter from Russia significantly complicated their practical entry into the Russian Empire. As a result, by the beginning of the nineteenth century a significant part of the Senior Zhuz fell under the authority of the Kokand ruler Alim Khan.

In 1818, the Senior zhuz again asked to be accepted into Russian citizenship. In May 1824, Emperor Alexander I signed a letter of acceptance of fourteen Sultans of the Senior Zhuz, who wandered in Semirechie, into citizenship. In 1830, the population of several parishes of the Middle zhuz took the oath. Then, throughout fifteen years, almost all other genera of the Senior zhuz entered Russian citizenship. It should be noted that accession to Russia was the only way out of the current situation, since the risk of losing statehood was very great. Naturally, the Russian Empire, wishing to protect its new possessions, took a number of m