Communist Dictatorship in Kazakhstan (1920-1991)
The communist policy in Kazakhstan mirrored Tsarist Russia’s colonial policy with new brutality. After suppressing the national movement and incorporating Kazakhstan into the Soviet Union, communist rulers aimed to eradicate the Kazakh identity.
During 1921-22, more than 2 million people suffered from famine due to the communists’ ineffective agricultural policy. Hunger deaths and mass exodus reduced Kazakstan’s population by more than one million. Even worse was the agricultural collectivization that resulted in the resettlement or starvation to death of 1.75 million people, i.e. 52% of the population. Collectivization was accompanied by terror: during 1929-33, extrajudicial punishment commissions or „troikas“ had at least 3,386 people executed and 13,151 were sent to Siberian prison camps.
Another wave of terror hit Kazakhstan in 1937-38, this time focusing on Kazakh intellectuals. Deported population was replaced by Soviet settlers, russification intensified and the Kazakh language was transferred to Cyrillic alphabet. As a result, the share of ethnic Kazakhs in the population fell to 29% and Russian was declared an official language. Kazakhstan’s disaster was abetted by environmental carelessness, including above-ground nuclear testing and destruction of the Aral Sea.