Talk with Anara about Kazakhstan (Part II)

I found out a little more about the December 16, 1986 demonstration that isn’t much talked about openly among the Kazakh people, just bits and pieces are shared amongst themselves. In any case, it was called a student uprising and many Kazakh people were imprisoned from 1986 until Nazarbayev became president of the new country in 1991. Those who were jailed were finally released after five years. If Russians, who lived in Almaty at that time, are asked about this event, they are somewhat dismissive about it. However, a memorial commemorating Kazakh independence is on Mir (Peace) Street, close to the five-star Ankara Hotel, in Almaty.

There was a movie originally titled Izgoi which means “Social Outcast” in Kazakh but the title was changed to “Running Target.” Most Kazakh people know about this film which was based on the 1986 Kazakh revolt against Moscow power and domination over Kazakhstan. Kunaev had been a Kazakh leader for many years. However, the communist leader who was meant to replace Kunaev in 1986 was Kalbin, who was a Russian. Kalbin had been sent down to Almaty from Moscow to rule over the Kazakhs with the hidden agenda to destroy any remnants of the Kazakh language and culture. Fortunately, Nazarbayev replaced this forbidding influence from the north and has been a leader representing Kazakhstan since 1997.

Anara’s father was an assistant to the famous movie director, Talgat Timenov. (He worked with Bonderchuk when they produced the movie “The Nomads” about 5-6 years ago.) Anara’s mother, Encar, knows the Kazakh actor who played the boy who had escaped from the Soviet police during the 1986 demonstration and had wandered around in the steppes. In this fictional account perhaps based on a true story, the boy was protected by a Russian woman acted by a famous Russian actress Nona Marzdukova until he was captured again and put in jail.

What was interesting to me is that Anara was only 10 years old when the 1986 demonstration happened, back then Stalin and Lenin were highly revered. Anara’s father knew better that these two early leaders of the Soviet Union were responsible for killing millions of people, not just in Kazakhstan, but throughout the former S.U. There was a huge disappointment for Anara to find out from her father that they, as school children, had been lied to for so long from their Moscow-approved history books. So strange for her to have this new knowledge that Stalin killed millions of people.

Anara wishes now that she had listened to her Kazakh father more. She grew up in a time when history was changing very quickly. She knows very well about Russian history and culture but admits she doesn’t know much about her own Kazakh history, as rich as it is. History continues to change in present day Kazakhstan, I want to know as much as I can about its past history. My Kazakh students and friends, like Anara, are my best informants.

1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    J. Otto Pohl said,

    Kunaev was a thouroughly corrupt leader who became the established communist party boss of Kazakhstan and the first Central Asian member of the politburo under Brezhnev. Gorbachev removed him as part of an anti-corruption campaign. The claims that Gorbachev sent Kolbin to destroy Kazakh culture or that Kunaev was anything other than a corrupt satrap of Brezhnev are simply revisionist history. Corruption in Central Asia became largely controlled by native communists like Kunaev in the 1960s and 1970s. These same people still rule all of Central Asia. Nazerbaev is the new Kunaev. While attacking the one attempt to remove corruption in Central Asia by Gorbachev is a good way to shore up the current regime in Kazakhstan it also completey avoids the issue of authoritarianism and corruption by Kazakhs both under Soviet and post-Soviet rule.


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