The Alash Autonomy (1917–1920)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.
During this period, the Russian administrator Vasile Balabanov had control much of the time with General Dootoff.
In the Soviet Union (1920–1991)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)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 in Ukraine, for which it may have provided a model, because peasants had slaughtered their livestock in protest against Soviet agricultural policy. In that period, over a million Kazakhs 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
Waves of European arrivalsMany 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.
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.
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)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". 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 eraIn 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.
Relationship with RussiaIn 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 AmericaKazakhstan 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 . 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. .
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.