During the Soviet era (1920–1991), some
Kazakh folklore was allowed to live on, but Kazakh
culture was helplessly mutilated when the very
foundation - nomadic life on the steppe - disappeared.
However, most Kazakhs still learn today to play the
national instrument dumb - a two-stringed lute.
The Kazakh nomadic culture has given rise to oral
traditions of song, poetry and storytelling. In the
past, professional skaldes, acynes, long and partly
improvised epic songs, which often began with a loud,
drawn out scream.
Latest population statistics of Kazakhstan, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
In the 19th century, the Russian-influenced poet Abaj
Kunanbajev connected with the traditions of the Akinians
and recorded Kazakh songs. The blind acne Djambul
Djambayev (1846–1945) dictated numerous songs of tribute
to Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
Around the turn of the century, a written literature
on Kazakh began to emerge. The author Muchtar Äuezov
(1897–61) is known for the great poem Abaj, which
commemorates the national poet Kunanbajev.
The contemporary poet Olzjas Sülejmenov is a
connoisseur of Kazakh history but writes in Russian. He
became involved in the opposition to Semipalatinsk in
the late 1980s (see Modern History) and later joined
politics. The award-winning author Abdi-Zhamil Nurpeisov
is best known for Blood and Sweat (in Swedish 2013) as
from the beginning three short stories, written in the
1960s. Blood and sweat is described as an epic tale of
life in a Kazakh village. The ultimate duty (in Swedish
2013) concerns the environmental disaster at Lake Arals
(see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment).
Since independence in 1991, song festivals have been
held, where acynes from China and Mongolia have
participated. In those countries, more traditional
Kazakh culture remains than in Kazakhstan. Kazakhs who
live in the cities are heavily battered. Many people no
longer speak their own language. Kazakhstan was a feared
place of refuge during the Stalin era, to which many
Russian intellectuals, such as the late Nobel laureate
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, were deported after surviving
camps in Siberia.
All children must be registered
The Tokayev government decides that all children born on Kazakh land should
be registered, regardless of the nationality of the parents. It reports the UN,
which commends the decision as an important step away from statelessness.
Tokayev promises legislative changes in the democratic direction
President Tokayev announces that the demand for permission from the
authorities for demonstrations will be abolished, and that the penalties for
hate speech and slander should be lowered as well as it will be easier to
register new political parties.
Police arrest about 40 people participating in demonstrations organized by
the banned group of Kazakh Democratic Elections (DCK) on Independence Day. It
reports media and opposition activists. The protesters protest against the
rulers and demand that President Nazarbayev be deprived of his great political
influence. Voices are also heard protesting China's investments and presence in
Kazakhstan, and accusing Beijing of persecuting ethnic Kazakhs in Xinjiang
Province in western China.
Demonstrations are held in Almaty and Nursultan against the government and
China's increasing presence in the country. The protest actions are organized by
the banned group Kazakhstan's democratic elections, led by regime critic Mukhtar
Abljazov. The police arrest a total of 26 participants.
Tokayev gives Nazarbayev more power
President Tokayev gives Nazarbayev's far-reaching influence in appointing a
number of important key positions. According to the decision, the president
should be consulted when appointing ministers and heads of government agencies.
Exceptions are made for the foreign, home and defense posts. The powerful
National Security Committee (KNB), a kind of successor to the Soviet-era KGB, is
an example of a government agency that can now only get a new head with
Easier to demonstrate
President Tokayev eases the restrictions imposed on peaceful demonstrations
in connection with the elections three months ago (see June 2019).
Debt relief for the poorest
President Tokayev decides that the country's poorest households should have
debt written off for a total of millions of dollars. A quarter of a million
people will have their debts fully written off, while thousands of others will
have debt relief. Some analysts believe that Tokayev orders the amortization of
debt to increase its popularity among the country's poor after the mass
demonstrations in connection with the election when 4,000 people were arrested.
Worried when Tokayev swears presidential speech
Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev swears the presidential plea in Nursultan. At the same
time, at least a hundred protesters are arrested in Almaty. The authorities
state for media that nearly 1,000 people have been sentenced to prison or other
punishments for participating in the demonstrations in connection with the
presidential election criticized by international election observers.
Tokayev wants to strengthen ties with Moscow
President Tokayev presents his political agenda for the next term. The
Government will give priority to closer cooperation within the Eurasian Economic
Union (EEU) and strengthen relations with Russia. General health care will be
improved, wages will be increased and work against corruption should be
Tokayev wins the presidential election
As expected, President Nursultan Nazarbayev's hand-picked successor, diplomat
and acting president Kassim-Jomart Tokayev, in the recent election for the
presidential post. Tokayev gets 71 percent of the vote against 16.2 percent for
the second election, journalist Amirzjan Kosanov. In third place with 5.1
percent comes Daniya Jespajeva, who is Kazakhstan's first female presidential
candidate. The electoral authority states the turnout to be 77.5 percent.
Protests erupt in Almaty and Nursultan against the election, which the
protesters believe has been settled in advance. About 500 people are arrested.
According to OSCE election observersthe election does not hold international
standards because of a lack of respect for fundamental rights, including the
arrests of peaceful protesters, and widespread irregularities in the voting
process. However, Tokayev thanks the police for the strike against the
protesters, which he believes are ruled by regime opponents in exile.
IS Kazakhs are transported home
Acting President Tokayev reports to the media that 231 Kazakhs linked to the
Islamic State (IS) have been transported to Syria's homeland in recent days. 156
of them are children, the majority under six. 18 are orphans. In January, 47
Kazakh citizens were reportedly returned home. It is unclear what happens to
them after returning home. In the years of IS propaganda, there have been videos
over the years showing how Kazakh children were trained as warriors.
Opposition candidate is approved
Amirzhan Kosanov is approved by the electoral authority as a candidate for
the opposition party National Conscience (Ult Tagdyry) in the June 9
presidential election. Assessors believe that the regime allows an opposition
candidate to stand in order to avoid questioning the legitimacy of the elections
or arranging for further protest actions.
Protesters call for boycotts
Hundreds of people walk the streets of Almaty and Nursultan (formerly
Astana), demanding that the June presidential election be boycotted and all
political prisoners released. The protesters believe that real opposition will
not be able to take part in the elections, which they say have the sole purpose
of giving Tokayev a clear mandate to continue leading the country.
The Social Democrats boycott the presidential election
The opposition Social Democratic Party (NSDP) boycott the new election for
the presidential post in June. The party says that all contenders for Tokayev
will only be exploited by the ruling Fatherland's light as puppets to legitimize
the election of their presidential candidate.
Tokayev elected as presidential candidate
The Government of the Fatherland Lights will elect Acting President
Kassim-Jomart Tokayev as his candidate in the June 9 presidential election. The
election comes after President Nursultan Nazarbayev publicly gave his support to
Tokayev, who is closely allied with the Nazarbayev family. Tokayev has
previously been a diplomat, foreign minister, prime minister and president of
New election to the presidential post in June
President Tokayev announces that presidential elections will be held on June
9, that is, almost a year in advance. At his sudden departure (see March
2019), Nursultan Nazarbayev said that Tokayev would sit out the current
term, that is until April 2020, but Tokayev explains that he has been in contact
with the powerful president and that he has approved the new election. Assessors
say that Tokayev is likely to run for office, win and continue to run
Nazarbayev's policies, but that he needs a stronger mandate for his rule, which
he would get through a electoral victory. Nazarbayev has retained the title of
"Leader of the Nation", he is still chairman of the Government Party of the
Fatherland Light and sits for life as chairman of the influential Security
Saghyntajev gets top job
24th of March
President Tokayev appoints former Prime Minister Saghyntaiev as his new Chief
of Staff. Saghyntaev was recently dismissed as Prime Minister by President
Nazarbayev (see February 2019). Nazarbayev has continued to
have great political influence through his life-long and constitutional status
as "the nation's leader". The title means that he leads a powerful Security
Council and is chairman of the Government Party of the Fatherland.
Astana is renamed Nursultan
President Tokayev's first decision is for the capital Astana to be renamed to
the Nursultan (Sultan of Light in Kazakh) to honor Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Parliament votes for Tokayev's proposal to change its name.
President Nazarbayev resigns
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled Kazakhstan since independence
from the Soviet Union in 1991, is leaving unexpectedly. He will be replaced by
Senate President Kassim-Jomart Tokayev, who will be running for office until
March 2020. Nazarbayev does not say why he is choosing to step down right now.
Nazarbayev's daughter Dariga Nazarbajeva replaces Tokayev as president of the
Senate, the second highest post after the president. Regime-critical protests
are being carried out in the larger cities.
Nazarbayev replaces the government
President Nazarbayev dismisses Prime Minister Saghyntaev and his government.
The reason is that Kazakhstan does not experience economic development despite
the country's large natural resources. The Kazakh economy plunged when oil
prices dropped significantly in 2014, and the country has since struggled to get
the economy on its feet. Western sanctions against Russia since 2014 have also
contributed to Kazakhstan's problems. Some analysts believe that even social
unrest, with protests for better living conditions, has contributed to
Nazarbayev's decision to change government. New Prime Minister will be Askar
Mamin, who was previously the first Deputy Head of Government, Transport and
Communications Minister and Mayor of Astana.