Alash Orda

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Alash Orda is the autonomous Kazakh government established by the liberal-nationalist Alash party in December 1917. Alash was the mythical ancestor of the Kazakhs, and Alash Orda (Horde of Alash) long served as their traditional battle cry. His name was adopted by the Kazakh nationalist journal, Alash, that was published by secularist Kazakh intellectuals for twenty-two issues, from November 26, 1916, to May 25, 1917. Alash Orda then was taken as the name of a political party founded in March 1917 by a group of moderate, upper-class Kazakh nationalists. Among others, they included Ali Khan Bukeykhanov, Ahmed Baytursun, Mir Yakub Dulatov, Oldes Omerov, Magzhan Zhumabayev, H. Dosmohammedov, Mohammedzhan Tynyshbayev, and Abdul Hamid Zhuzhdybayev. Initially, the party's program resembled that of the Russian Constitutional-Democrats (Kadets), but with a strong admixture of Russian Menshevik (Social Democrat) and Socialist-Revolutionary (SR) ideas. Despite later Soviet charges, it was relatively progressive on social issues and demanded the creation of an autonomous Kazakh region. This program was propagated in the newspaper Qazaq (Kazakh ), published in Orenburg. The paper had a circulation of about eight thousand until it was closed by the Communists in March 1918.

After March 1917, Alash Orda's leaders dominated Kazakh politics. They convened a Second All-Kirgiz (Kazakh) Congress in Orenburg from December 18 through December 26, 1917. On December 23, this congress proclaimed the autonomy of the Kazakh steppes under two Alash Orda governments. One, centered at the village of Zhambeitu and encompassing the western region, was headed by Dosmohammedov. The second, headed by Ali Khan Bukeykhanov, governed the eastern region from Semipalatinsk. Both began as strongly anti-Communist and supported the anti-Soviet forces that were rallying around the Russian Constituent Assembly (Komuch): the Orenburg Cossacks and the Bashkirs of Zeki Velidi Togan. In time, however, the harsh minority policies of Siberia's White Russian leader, Admiral Alexander Vasilievich Kolchak, alienated the Kazakh leaders. Alash Orda's leaders then sought to achieve their goals by an alignment with Moscow. Accepting Mikhail Vasilievich Frunze's November 1919 promise of amnesty, most Kazakh leaders recognized Soviet power on December 10, 1919. After further negotiations, the Kirgiz Revolutionary Committee (Revkom) formally abolished Alash Orda's institutional network in March 1920. Many Alash leaders then joined the Communist Party and worked for Soviet Kazakhstan, only to perish during Stalin's purges of the 1930s. After 1990 the name "Alash" reappeared, but as the title of a small Kazakh pan-Turkic and Pan-Islamic party and its journal.

See also: central asia; kazakhstan and kazakhs; nationalism in the soviet union


Jackson, George, and Devlin, Robert, eds. (1989). Dictionary of the Russian Revolution. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Olcott, Martha Brill. (1995). The Kazakhs, 2nd ed. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Wheeler, Geoffrey. (1964). The Modern History of Soviet Central Asia. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

David R. Jones

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Alash Orda

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