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Ydyrys Mustambayev. Defender of Abai and Magzhan

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Ydyrys Mustambayev. Defender of Abai and Magzhan
Little is known about Ydyrys Mustambayev’s life.

He lived a short life, held high positions at the dawn of the emergence of the republic, had a conflict with Goloshchekin, was accused of being a follower of Sadvokassov, first volunteered to defend the heritage of Abai and became another victim of the bloody Stalinist regime. Qazaqstan Tarihy website will tell about the life of public figure and literary critic Ydyrys Mustambayev.

He was born in November 1898 in Semipalatinsk. His father Mustambay, being an orphan at a young age, worked as a farm laborer for the traders of the famous Semipalatinsk merchant Tynybay Kaukenov, tended their cattle, which eventually led him to Semipalatinsk. He also sent his unsteady, but clever son Ydyrys in a madrassah at Tynybay’s mosque. Later, he did not prevent his son's desire for Russian education. In 1918, Ydyrys graduated with honours from a two-class Russian-Kazakh school in Semipalatinsk. And during the bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1917 and the October socialist revolution, Ydyrys Mustambayev worked as a telegrapher in the Semipalatinsk postal and telegraph dispatches.

After the establishment of Soviet power in Semipalatinsk, on the eve of the New Year, he was nominated to the Council of City Deputies from workers of postal and telegraphic consignments of Semipalatinsk, and in April 1918 was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Council of Deputies of Alash district and was elected to the presidium of the Council of Deputies of Semipalatinsk district.

Being engaged in establishment of the Soviet power, Ydyrys Mustambayev took an active part in establishment of the republic. During the years of building up Kazakh autonomy, the questions "In what direction should the work of party and Soviet organizations be carried out?", "What social groups supervise the issues of power management?", "How will we protect the national interests?", which disturbed the souls of ordinary people, were heard more often.

Despite the appearance of the Decree on creation of the Kazakh Soviet autonomy, definition of its territory, election of Soviet leaders and creation of corresponding authorities, Semipalatinsk and Akmola provinces were not included in the Kazakh Soviet Autonomous Republic. The leaders of the Siberian Revolutionary Committee did not recognize Kazakhstan's right to these lands and constrained the process of joining the region to Kazakhstan. At the same time, representatives of other nationalities that were part of the leadership of Semipalatinsk province began to express similar sentiments to Sibrevkom. In such difficult situation exactly people like Mustambayev has made many efforts to return the region to the country.

Ydyrys was also remembered for laying the foundations of the modern prosecutor's office. Due to the lack of legal staff, the prosecutor's office recruited competent and responsible employees, who proved themselves excellently in party and Soviet work. So, Mustambayev was appointed a prosecutor of Ural Province. Young Ydyrys, who had no legal education, was assisted by well-known lawyers Bakhytzhan Karatayev and his younger brother Aron Karatayev. Later, Mustambayev married Shahzoda Karatayeva, B. Karatayev's daughter, but due to political persecution of Ydyrys they had to divorce soon after the wedding.

Shortly after Ydyrys took up his duties as a provincial prosecutor, he involved a large number of representatives of local nationalities in the activities of the prosecutor's supervision bodies, thus allowing Kazakhs to choose the appearance of social and political life in the country.

After his transfer to Akmola Province in 1924 as a local prosecutor, he also made every effort to activate the duties of the provincial supervisory body. On these posts Ydyrys repeatedly showed the prosecutor the necessary determination and firmness, thanks to which his figure was popular among the people. While holding the position of provincial prosecutor, he did not disregard the social and economic situation of the people. One of the issues of nomadic Kazakhs, to which he paid special attention in his reports, was the issue of hunger and the need for its further prevention. He emphasized the need for a thorough study of the causes of the famine of Kazakhs in Akmola province in the mid-20s of the twentieth century.

The years 1924-1925 in the history of Kazakh people are known for the final unification of all Kazakh lands and transfer of the center of Kazakh autonomy to Akmeshit. Under public, popular enthusiasm, April 18, 1925 by the decision of local RCP(b) Mustambayev was elected chairman of Syrdarya provincial executive committee. This period, in fact, was one of the most responsible periods of his short life. The country's leadership entrusted 27-year-old Ydyrys with the leadership of the executive committee of the whole province.

In Syrdarya City Executive Committee, which became one of the brightest pages of his life, he worked a little over a year. In general, during these years in different parts of Kazakhstan there were disagreements and conflicts: struggle for power in the regions, accusations of groupism and nationalism. Besides, when Syrdarya province became a capital province, Mustambayev found himself in the epicenter of intense political struggle. As head of the regional executive committee, he put the interests of the nation first and fought for them, which attracted the attention of Philipp Goloschekin, who did not like the bold ideas and steps taken by Ydyrys. In his work he was constantly looking for flaws, and he was tracked down himself.

During Goloshchekin's speech on a theme about internal political situation in the country during the joint plenum of Kazkraykom and regional supervision commission in November 1926, he accused the Kazakh party’s chaptrer in ‘grouping’, and the large Kazakh national figures Sultanbek Kozhanov, Zhalau Mynbayev and Smagul Saduakassov named it instigators. He went to great lengths to expose them as ‘group leaders’ who impede the development of Soviet construction in Kazakhstan. As the chief prosecutor, Goloshchekin expressed his dissatisfaction with Saduakassov’s work. Saduakassov accused the latter directly of the fact that he was allegedly engaged in counterrevolutionary activities under the guise of fighting with Europeans. Goloshchekin spoke about Mustambayev: 

 "Here is another leader, but not a provincial one, but a provincial comrade Mustambayev, after the fifth conference went to the resort. From there he wrote to one of his comrades: "Comrade Goloschekin cannot be trusted in any way. Communism cannot be built in Kazakhstan by Ezhov."  

Time has shown that the insightful characteristic of Mustambayev on Goloshchekin and Ezhov turned out to be prophetic. In any case, but from now on Goloshchekin called Mustambayev as a supporter of Smagul Saduakassov of ‘provincial level’. On the other hand, Ydyrys himself often in the circles of other builders of Soviet Kazakhstan accused Goloshchekin of dictatorship and of not considering anyone's opinion.

 If to consider Mustambayev’s political activity, it is possible to notice that he was familiar with traditional economy of his people, and therefore, he opposed ‘Goloshchekin’s’ "experimental methods of organization of aul farms" with settlement of Russian peasants on the Kazakh lands, policy of realization of forced settling of the population, continuous collectivization of bai farms etc.

Despite the fact that Ydyrys was busy day and night in the social and political field, he was also a great connoisseur of Kazakh fiction. He was well versed in literary issues and often shared his views from the press pages. Speaking about his fiction, his literary works, one should separately tell about his merits in defense of Abai heritage. Scientist Token Ibragim, who worked his whole life in Abai Museum, told the story:  

"In 1922, the article "Abai is the head of feudals" was published. I do not remember the author of the article, but I remember the man who opposed it well. He was Ydyrys Mustambayev. In the times when Auezov has not yet come to Abai studies, when there were hard time for Alashordinians and it was dangerous to speak publicly, the only one who defended the heritage of Abai was Ydyrys Mustambayev".

  In 1920s, he actively participated in the literary life of the country. During these years, he became the author of extensive critical articles on "The Great Poet Abai", "On Fiction", "Our disputes", "On Criticism and the press", "On the poet Abai and the philosopher Ilyas", "Abai", "Philosophy of Kazakh poet Abai and his criticism" and many others on the pages of newspapers "Qazaq tili", "Enbekshi Qazaq", "Soviet Steppe" and magazines "Jana Adebiet" and "Qyzyl Kazakhstan".  In the works, Mustambayev fiercely exposed those who tried to deny the rich heritage of Kazakh literature, those who tried to erase the name of Abai from the history of the country and put it into oblivion. He did not despair even when he was accused of defending a representative of the feudal class.

Along with the fact that Mustambayev defended the heritage of Abai from attacks by haters; he also fought against the haters of the folk poet Magzhan Zhumabayev in his works. He was not afraid to speak, even being a victim of ‘Golovoshchekin’ persecution and having received accusations of ‘group’, ‘nationalism’, ‘trotskyism’. He spoke out about all the criticism that fell on Zhumabayev's poem ‘Toksannyn Toby’ on the pages of the newspaper "Soviet Steppe", in the article "Zhumabayev and ‘ninety’, published in May 1929. In a voluminous, deep in meaning analytical article of Mustambayev defended the heritage of poet Magzhan from slander and gave him a fair assessment. But he did not manage to escape from the accusations: if he was politically persecuted for his attempt to stand up for Alash's figures, he was accused of "propaganda of works and philosophies of poet-nationalist and hidden critic of Abai's Marxism".

 The persecution of the Kazakh intelligentsia began long before 1937. Beginning from 1929, Alash figures were arrested by groups: leaders were sent to firing ranges, and less significant were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. And those who interceded for them, to the extent possible, appreciated their work and their place in history received false accusations of "nationalism", "groupism" and "deviation from the party course" from Golovoshchekin’s activists.

In July 1932, Mustambayev was appointed director of Kazakh Geological Exploration Institute in Semipalatinsk. This position was the last in the bright life of the figure. He was arrested by employees of JSPD on January 17, 1933 in Moscow, where he arrived to participate in the Board of Directors of higher educational institutions. Within a month he was interrogated, and on February 18, 1933 he was sent at the disposal of the Almaty JSPD. He spent four months interrogated in a special department of the Kazakh JSPD, and was accused of "creating a counter-revolutionary organization connected with higher educational institutions and units of the Red Army, with the aim of overthrowing the Soviet government in Kazakhstan and separating it from the USSR". During the investigation, he pleaded not guilty to the creation of the so-called "counter-revolutionary organization". He spent another seven months in JSPD. Finally, in July 1933, he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges under Article 58, paragraphs 2 and 11 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR.

The persecution that began in Kazakhstan in the late 1920s and early 1930s resumed in 1937. The repressive machine of the administrative and command totalitarian regime not only did not distinguish between black and white, raking everyone in one pile, but also invented the frightening term "Enemy of the people", through which it exterminated the best sons of the country. From now on, all the cases of those who had previously been arrested on false charges and served their sentences were studied, reviewed and investigated again. However, the punishment was now much more severe. Among those whose cases were again in the hands of investigators was Ydyrys Mustambayev, who, before serving his sentence, was sent back for questioning.

The accusations, taken on the repeated investigation in July 1937, were closely connected with political events in Kazakhstan of 1930s. In particular, groundless accusations of "connections with Trotskyism followers", "organization of youth against the Soviet power" and "organization of armed uprisings against the Soviet power" continued.

Well acquainted with the hypocrisy of the punitive forces of JSPD/NKVD, which under the guise of fighting crime were exterminating all the colors of the nation, Mustambayev did not plead guilty to any of the political charges. When asked by the investigator, "Do you recognize your active participation in the counter-revolutionary activities of the nationalist organization? I know nothing about nationalist organizations directed against the Soviet power, and I have never been a member of such organizations".

It did not save Ydyrys Mustambayev. He was sentenced to execution on November 16, 1937, by a decree of JSPD of Almaty region "for participation in a national terrorist uprising against the Soviet government and the establishment of a spy-sabotage organization. Served his people, who fought for national interests, Mustambayev was imprisoned at the age of 34, where he spent the next five years, and at the age of 39, he became one more innocent victim of the bigoted Soviet attitude to human lives.

Dana Tugambekova

Author: Ayan ADEN