Monday, March 14, 2022

Kazakh Activists Increasingly Drawing on Ideas of Pre-Soviet Alash Orda Movement

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 10 – Many analysts have concluded that the reason that the East European and Baltic countries have overwhelmingly done so much better in recovering from communism is that they had a past to return to rather than having to invent something entirely new, the task that stood before most former Soviet republics.

            That is what makes so interesting and important efforts by people in some of the latter to recover their own democratic pasts and seek to build on them. Such attempts in Azerbaijan and Georgia have attracted some attention ( and

            Now, at a time of transition, some in Kazakhstan are doing the same, looking back to the Alash Orda government and movement at the time of the Russian Civil War as a model and even forming a new political party committed to realizing the national liberation goals of that long ago group.

            For some time, Kazakh intellectuals have been intrigued by the Alash Orda and its articulation of an independent state committed to democracy and national liberation ( But now there are signs that this interest is spreading and becoming politically relevant.

            In an article for the Central Asian Bureau of Analytic Research, Kazakh historian Kamil Smagulova traces this growth, including in the form of the Oyan.Kazakhstan movement, and argues that this trend will only continue as films and publications about the Alash Orda movement appear (   

            Smagulova argues that this interest in the Alash Orda not only gives Kazakhs a basis within their own history for democratic development but also and perhaps even more important roots that in a movement that viewed democracy as a key dimension of independence and national self-determination.

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