This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (May 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic[1]
Қазақ Советтік Социалистік Республикасы (Kazakh)
Казахская Советская Социалистическая Республика (Russian)
Flag of Kazakh SSR
Flag (1953–1991)
State emblem (1978–1991) of Kazakh SSR
State emblem
Motto: "Барлық елдердің пролетарлары, бірігіңдер!"
"Barlyq elderdıñ proletarlary, bırıgıñder!"(transliteration)
"Proletarians of all countries, unite!"
Anthem: "Қазақ Советтік Социалистік Республикасының мемлекеттік гимны"
"State Anthem of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic"

Location of Kazakhstan (red) within the Soviet Union
StatusSoviet socialist republic
Largest citiesKaraganda
Official languagesKazakh · Russian
Minority languagesUzbek · Uyghur · Tatar · Kyrgyz · Azerbaijani · Korean
State atheism
GovernmentUnitary Marxist-Leninist one-party soviet republic (1936–1990)
Unitary presidential republic (1990–1991)
First Secretary 
• 1936–1938 (first)
Levon Mirzoyan
• 1991 (last)[2]
Nursultan Nazarbayev
Head of state 
• 1936–1937 (first)
Ukakbai Zeldirbayuly K.
• 1990 (last)
Nursultan Nazarbayev
Head of government 
• 1936–1937 (first)
Uraz Isayev
• 1991 (Last)
Sergey Tereshchenko
LegislatureSupreme Soviet
• Elevation to a Union Republic
5 December 1936
16 December 1986
• Sovereignty declared
25 October 1990
10 December 1991
• Independence declared
16 December 1991
• Independence recognised
26 December 1991
HDI (1991)0.684
CurrencySoviet rouble (Rbl) (SUR)
Time zone(UTC+4 to +6)
Calling code+7 31/32/330/33622
ISO 3166 codeSU
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kazakh ASSR
Today part ofKazakhstan

The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, also known as Soviet Kazakhstan, the Kazakh SSR, or simply Kazakhstan, was one of the transcontinental constituent republics of the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1936 to 1991. Located in northern Central Asia, it was created on 5 December 1936 from the Kazakh ASSR, an autonomous republic of the Russian SFSR.

At 2,717,300 square kilometres (1,049,200 sq mi) in area, it was the second-largest republic in the USSR, after the Russian SFSR. Its capital was Alma-Ata (today known as Almaty). During its existence as a Soviet Socialist Republic, it was ruled by the Communist Party of the Kazakh SSR (QKP).

On 25 October 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh SSR declared its sovereignty on its soil. QKP first secretary Nursultan Nazarbayev was elected president in April of that year – a role he remained in until 2019.

The Kazakh SSR was renamed the Republic of Kazakhstan on 10 December 1991, which declared its independence six days later, as the last republic to secede from the USSR on 16 December 1991. The Soviet Union was officially dissolved on 26 December 1991 by the Soviet of the Republics. The Republic of Kazakhstan, the legal successor to the Kazakh SSR, was admitted to the United Nations on 2 March 1992.


The republic was named after the Kazakh people, Turkic-speaking former nomads who sustained a powerful khanate in the region before Russian and later Soviet domination. The Soviet Union's spaceport, now known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome, was located in this republic at Tyuratam, and the secret town of Leninsk (now known as Baikonur) was constructed to accommodate its personnel.


Stamp marking the Kazakh SSR's 40th anniversary


Established on 26 August 1920, it was initially called Kirghiz ASSR (Kirghiz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic) and was a part of the Russian SFSR. On 15–19 April 1925, it was renamed Kazak ASSR (subsequently Kazakh ASSR) and on 5 December 1936 it was elevated to the status of a Union-level republic, Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.

In September 1920, the Ninth Soviet Congress of Turkestan called for the deportation of illegal settler colonists in the Northern parts of the country.[3] The proposed land reform began in 1921 and lasted until 1927,targeting Russian settlers, Ukrainians and Cossacks in the region and from 1920 to 1922, Kazakhstan's Russian population dropped from approximately 2.7 to 2.2 million.[3] A further 15,000 Cossack settler colonists were deported between 1920-1921 as part of the process of returning control and sovereignty of land to the Kazakhs.[4]

On 19 February 1925 Filipp Goloshchyokin was appointed First Secretary of the Communist Party in the newly created Kazakh Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic. From 1925 to 1933 he ran the Kazakh ASSR with virtually no outside interference. He played a prominent part in the construction of the Turkestan-Siberia railway, which was constructed to open up Kazakhstan's mineral wealth.

After Joseph Stalin ordered the forced collectivization of agriculture throughout the Soviet Union, Goloshchyokin ordered that Kazakhstan's largely nomadic population was to be forced to settle in collective farms. This caused the deadly Kazakh famine of 1930–1933 in Kazakhstan which killed between 1 and 2 million people.[5]

In 1937 the first major deportation of an ethnic group in the Soviet Union began, the removal of the Korean population from the Russian Far East to Kazakhstan. Over 170,000 people were forcibly relocated to the Kazakh and Uzbek SSRs.[6]

Kazakhstani Korean scholar German Kim assumes that one of the reasons for this deportation may have been Stalin's intent to oppress ethnic minorities that could have posed a threat to his socialist system or he may have intended to consolidate the border regions with China and Japan by using them as political bargaining chips.[7] Additionally, historian Kim points out that 1.7 million people perished in the Kazakh famine of 1931–33, while an additional one million people fled from the Republic, causing a labour shortage in that area, which Stalin sought to compensate for by deporting other ethnicities there.[7]

Over one million political prisoners from various parts of the Soviet Union passed through the Karaganda Corrective Labor Camp (KarLag) between 1931 and 1959, with an unknown number of deaths.[8]

During the 1950s and 1960s, Soviet citizens were urged to settle in the Virgin Lands of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. The influx of immigrants, mostly Russians, skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazakhs to outnumber natives. As a result, the use of the Kazakh language declined but has started to experience a revival since independence, both as a result of its resurging popularity in law and business and the growing proportion of Kazakhs. The other nationalities included Ukrainians, Germans, Jews, Belarusians, Koreans and others; Germans at the time of independence formed about 8% of the population, the largest concentration of Germans in the entire Soviet Union. Kazakh independence has caused many of these newcomers to emigrate.


Following the dismissal of Dinmukhamed Konayev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan by the last Soviet general secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev, riots broke out for four days between 16 and 19 December 1986 known as Jeltoqsan by student demonstrators in Brezhnev Square in the capital city, Alma-Ata. Approximately 168–200 civilians were killed in the uprising. The events then spilled over to Shymkent, Pavlodar, Karaganda and Taldykorgan.

On 25 March 1990, Kazakhstan held its first elections with Nursultan Nazarbayev, the chairman of the Supreme Soviet elected as its first president. Later that year on 25 October, it then declared sovereignty. The republic participated in a referendum to preserve the union in a different entity with 94.1% voted in favour. It did not happen when hardline communists in Moscow took control of the government in August. Nazarbayev then condemned the failed coup.

As a result of those events, the Kazakh SSR was renamed to the Republic of Kazakhstan on 10 December 1991. It declared independence on 16 December[9] (the fifth anniversary of Jeltoqsan), becoming the last Soviet constituency to secede. Its capital was the site of the Alma-Ata Protocol on 21 December 1991 that dissolved the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States in its place which Kazakhstan joined. The Soviet Union officially ceased to exist as a sovereign state on 26 December 1991 and Kazakhstan became an internationally recognized independent state.

On 28 January 1993, the new Constitution of Kazakhstan was officially adopted.


Demographics of Kazakhstan from 1897 to 1970, with major ethnic groups. Famines of the 1920s and 1930s are marked with shades.

According to the 1897 census, the earliest census taken in the region, Kazakhs constituted 81.7% of the total population (3,392,751 people) within the territory of contemporary Kazakhstan. The Russian population in Kazakhstan was 454,402, or 10.95% of total population; there were 79,573 Ukrainians (1.91%); 55,984 Tatars (1.34%); 55,815 Uyghurs (1.34%); 29,564 Uzbeks (0.7%); 11,911 Moldovans (0.28%); 4,888 Dungans (0.11%); 2,883 Turkmens; 2,613 Germans; 2,528 Bashkirs; 1,651 Jews; and 1,254 Poles.

Ethnic Composition of Kazakhstan (census data)[10]
Nationality 1926 1939 1959 1970 1979 1989
Kazakh 58.5 37.8 30.0 32.6 36.0 40.1
Russian 18.0 40.2 42.7 42.4 40.8 37.4
Ukrainian 13.88 10.7 8.2 7.2 6.1 5.4
Belarusian 0.51 1.2 1.5 1.2 1.1 0.8
German 0.82 1.50 7.1 6.6 6.1 5.8
Tatar 1.29 1.76 2.1 2.2 2.1 2.0
Uzbek 2.09 1.96 1.5 1.7 1.8 2.0
Uyghur 1.01 0.58 0.6 0.9 1.0 1.1
Korean 0.8 0.6 0.6 0.6


The most significant factors that shaped the ethnic composition of the population of Kazakhstan were the 1920s and 1930s famines. According to different estimates of the effects of the Kazakh famine of 1930–1933, up to 40% of Kazakhs (indigenous ethnic group) either died of starvation or fled the territory.[11] Official government census data report the contraction of Kazakh population from 3.6 million in 1926, to 2.3 million in 1939.[12][13]


Upon the start of the Second World War, many large factories were relocated to the Kazakh SSR.

The Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site and Baikonur Cosmodrome were also built here.

After the war, the Virgin Lands Campaign was started in 1953. This was led by Nikita Khrushchev, with the goal of developing the vast lands of the republic and helping to boost Soviet agricultural yields. However it did not work as promised, the campaign was eventually abandoned in the 1960s.[14]


In the early days of the Soviet Union, Kazakh culture was both developed and restrained, and later many Kazakh cultural figures were imprisoned, exiled, or killed in Joseph Stalin's purges. However, after the Stalinist era, Nikita Khrushchev's efforts to reinvigorate internationalism and furtherly weaken Kazakh culture were controversial in the Kazakh SSR.[15] Kazakhs viewed his internationalist goals as a call for "Russification".[15]

Beginning in 1937, the Soviet Government began a series of forced deportations of ethnic minorities, such as Soviet Koreans, the Volga Germans and various other minorities to the Kazakh SSR, a programme that ended only with Stalin's death in 1953.



  1. ^ Historical names:
    • 1936–1991: Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (Russian: Казахская Советская Социалистическая Республика; Kazakh: Қазақ Советтік Социалистік Республикасы, romanized: Qazaq Sovettik Sotsialistik Respublikasy)
    • 1991: Republic of Kazakhstan (Russian: Республика Казахстан; Kazakh: Қазақстан Республикасы, romanized: Qazaqstan Respublikasy)
  2. ^ On 24 October 1990, article 6 on the monopoly of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan on power was excluded from the Constitution of the Kazakh SSR
  3. ^ a b Martin, Terry (2001). The Affirmative Action Empire. Cornell University. p. 60.
  4. ^ Martin, Terry (2001). The Affirmative Action Empire. Cornell University. p. 61.
  5. ^ Volkava, Elena (26 March 2012). "The Kazakh Famine of 1930–33 and the Politics of History in the Post-Soviet Space". Wilson Center. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  6. ^ Chang, Jon K. (31 January 2018). Burnt by the Sun: The Koreans of the Russian Far East. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 157–158, 170–171, 236. ISBN 978-0-8248-7674-6.
  7. ^ a b Kim, German N. (1 January 2003). "Koryo Saram, or Koreans of the Former Soviet Union: In the Past and Present". Amerasia Journal. 29 (3): 23–29. doi:10.17953/amer.29.3.xk2111131165t740. ISSN 0044-7471.
  8. ^ Peter Ford (25 May 2017). "Dark Tourism in Kazakhstan's Gulag Heartland". The Diplomat.
  9. ^ Конституционный закон Республики Казахстан от 16 декабря 1991 года № 1007-XII «О государственной независимости Республики Казахстан»
  10. ^ Dave, Bhavna (11 March 2012). "Minorities and participation in public life: Kazakhstan". Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Во время голода в Казахстане погибло 40 процентов населения". Радио Азаттык.
  12. ^ "Äåìîñêîï Weekly - Ïðèëîæåíèå. Ñïðàâî÷íèê ñòàòèñòè÷åñêèõ ïîêàçàòåëåé". Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Äåìîñêîï Weekly - Ïðèëîæåíèå. Ñïðàâî÷íèê ñòàòèñòè÷åñêèõ ïîêàçàòåëåé". Archived from the original on 16 March 2010. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  14. ^ Durgin, Frank A. Jr. (1962). "The Virgin Lands Programme 1954–1960". Soviet Studies. 13 (3). JSTOR: 255–80. doi:10.1080/09668136208410287.
  15. ^ a b Olcott, Martha (30 November 2011). "Kazakhstan's Soviet Legacy". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 16 February 2022.

Further reading