- Kazakhstan in the Russian Empire
Russian traders and soldiers began to appear on the northwestern edge of Kazakh territory in the
17th century, when Cossacksestablished the forts that later became the cities of Oral (Ural'sk) and Atyrau(Gur'yev). Russians were able to seize Kazakh territory because the khanates were preoccupied by Kalmyks( Oirats, Dzungars), who in the late 16th century had begun to move into Kazakh territory from the east. Forced westward in what they call their Great Retreat, the Kazakhs were increasingly caught between the Kalmyks and the Russians. Two of Kazakh Hordes were depend of OiratHuntaiji. In 1730 Abul Khayr, one of the khans of the Lesser Horde, sought Russian assistance. Although Abul Khayr's intent had been to form a temporary alliance against the stronger Kalmyks, the Russians gained permanent control of the Lesser Horde as a result of his decision. The Russians conquered the Middle Horde by 1798, but the Great Horde managed to remain independent until the 1820s, when the expanding Kokand Khanateto the south forced the Great Horde khans to choose Russian protection, which seemed to them the lesser of two evils.
Russian Empireelaborated a new imperial policy, announced in the Gorchakov Circular, asserting the right to annex "troublesome" areas on the empire's borders. This policy led immediately to the Russian conquest of the rest of Central Asia and the creation of two administrative districts, the "General-Gubernatorstvo" ( Governor-Generalship) of Russian Turkestanand that of the Steppe. Most of present-day Kazakhstan was in the Steppe District, and parts of present-day southern Kazakhstan, including Almaty(Verny), were in the Governor-Generalship.
In the early
19th century, the construction of Russian forts began to have a destructive effect on the Kazakh traditional economy by limiting the once-vast territory over which the nomadic tribes could drive their herds and flocks. The final disruption of nomadismbegan in the 1890s, when many Russian settlers were introduced into the fertile lands of northern and eastern Kazakhstan. In 1906 the Trans-Aral Railwaybetween Orenburgand Tashkentwas completed, further facilitating Russian colonisationof the fertile lands of Semirechie. Between 1906 and 1912, more than a half-million Russian farms were started as part of the reforms of Russian minister of the interior Petr Stolypin, putting immense pressure on the traditional Kazakh way of life by occupying grazing land and using scarce water resources. The Russian settlements have distorted the fundamentally important routes of nomadic seasonal repositioning that Kazakhs have employed for many centuries. Russian appropriation of Kazakh-raised livestock was not uncommon, as was forced separation of young Kazakh women from the tribes to work as slaves or as entertainers.
Starving and displaced, many Kazakhs joined in the general
Central Asian Revoltagainst conscription into the Russian imperial army, which the tsarordered in July 1916 as part of the effort against Germanyin World War I. In late 1916, Russian forces brutally suppressed the widespread-armed resistance to the taking of land and conscription of Central Asians. Thousands of Kazakhs were killed, and thousands of others fled to Chinaand Mongolia. Some have succeeded, but many have failed and died in travel.
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