Staunton, June 22 – Kazakh men have a long tradition of marrying women of a different nationality, most often in the 20th century ethnic Russians. Kazakh women joined in that practice only at the end of Soviet times and even more than men married representatives nationalities from beyond the borders of the former USSR.
These patterns, which Moscow celebrated as evidence that its nationality policy was working, were generally described in terms of mass numbers, but those members of the Kazakh elite who married non-Kazakhs may represent an even more important one because they symbolized for others a departure from national endogamy.
· QMonitor journalist Bakhyt Zhanabergen provides a list of some of the most important of these elite inter-ethnic marriages by ethnic Kazakhs which gives some idea of how diverse these have been and points to the way in which this trend has expanded from men to women in the last three decades (qmonitor.kz/society/4220). Among them are:
· Alikhan Bukeykhanov, the leader of the Alash National Democratic Party, married a Russian who was the daughter of a political exile in Siberia in 1902.
· Akhmet Baytursynov, another Alash leader, married an ethnic Russian who taught in a joint Kazakh-Russian school near Kustanay.
· Turar Ryskulov, a Bolshevik and Soviet leader in Central Asia and Kazakhstan, had in succession three ethnic Russian wives.
· Mustafa Shokay, a leader of the Kokand autonomy, married a Russian from Tashkent and fled to Paris. He lived there until his death in December 1941. She died only in 1969.
· Zhusipbek Aymauytov, author of the first Kazakh novel, was married in succession to two Russian women.
· Mukhtar Auezov, another Kazakh novelist, was married four time. Two of his wives were ethnic Russians.
· Olzhas Suleymenov, author of Az I Ya, also married an ethnic Russian.
· Dzhamila Stkehlikova married a Czech man and moved to Prague where in 2007 she became the first minister of a Czech government of non-Czech origin.
· Asel Tolenova, a Kazakh born in Alma Ata in 1976, married US exchange student Shaun Roberts. He became an American specialist on Central Asia; and she became chief of protocol to US President Joe Biden.