Turks in Kazakhstan

Turks in Kazakhstan
Total population
(97,015 (2009 census)
150,000[1] to 180,000[2]
Plus 9,593 Turkish nationals[3])
Regions with significant populations
Turkish, Kazakh, Russian

Turks in Kazakhstan are ethnic Turks who live in Kazakhstan.


Ottoman migration

The First All-Union Census of the Soviet Union in 1926 recorded 8,570 Ottoman Turks living in the Soviet Union. The Ottoman Turks are no longer listed separately in the census, it is presumed that those who were living in Kazakhstan have either been assimilated into Kazakh society or have left the country.[4]

Meskhetian Turks migration

Turks in Kazakhstan according to official censuses
Census Turks % of Kazakh population
1939 523[5] 0%
1959 9,916[6] 0.1%
1970 18,397[7] 0.1%
1979 25,820[8] 0.2%
1989 49,567[9] 0.3%
1999 75,950[10] 0.5%
2009 97,015[10] 0.6%

During World War II, the Soviet Union was preparing to launch a pressure campaign against Turkey. Vyacheslav Molotov, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, demanded to the Turkish Ambassador in Moscow for the surrender of three Anatolian provinces (Kars, Ardahan and Artvin).[11] Thus, war against Turkey seemed possible, and Joseph Stalin wanted to clear the strategic Turkish population situated in Meskheti, near the Turkish-Georgian border.[11][12] Nationalistic policies at the time encouraged the slogan: "Georgia for Georgians" and that the Meskhetian Turks should be sent to Turkey "where they belong".[13][14] By 1944, the Meskhetian Turks were forcefully deported from Meskheti and accused of smuggling, banditry and espionage in collaboration with their kin across the Turkish border.[15] Thus, large settlements of Meskhetian Turks were formed in Kazakhstan and they were not permitted by the Georgian government of Zviad Gamsakhurdia to return to their homeland.[13]

In the last Soviet Census, conducted in 1989, there were 207,500 Meskhetian Turks in the Soviet Union and over 23.8% were registered in Kazakhstan.[16]


Although the last Soviet census recorded a low figure of 207,269 Turks, this may have not counted all ethnic Turks, because for many years, Turks were denied the right to register their nationality in legal documents. Thus, in Kazakhstan, only a third of them were recorded as Turks on their passports. The rest had been arbitrarily declared members of other ethnic groups.[17][18]

According to academics there are 150,000 Turks who reside in Kazakhstan. 45,000 in Almaty, 40,000 in South Kazakhstan, 36,000 in Zhambil and 10,000 in Qyzylorda.[19]


Due to historical links between Turkish and Kazakh people, the Turks living in Kazakhstan are well provided. The Hoca Ahmet Yesevi International Kazakh-Turkish University was established in Turkistan of Kazakhstan in 1993 and has around 20,000 students. It is one of the leading universities in the country. There is also 28 Kazakh-Turkish high schools, one university and one primary school which are operated by private Turkish foundations. There is also one Turkish Language Teaching Center in Almaty.

See also


  1. Aydıngün et al. 2006, 13.
  2. Al Jazeera (2014). "Ahıska Türklerinin 70 yıllık sürgünü". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  3. Rep. of Turkey Ministry of Labour and Social Security. "YURTDISINDAKI VATANDASLARIMIZLA ILGILI SAYISAL BILGILER". Retrieved 2009-10-27.
  4. Akiner 1983, 381.
  5. Демоскоп Weekly. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1939 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР". Retrieved 2011-02-13.
  6. Демоскоп Weekly. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1959 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР". Retrieved 2011-02-13.
  7. Демоскоп Weekly. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1970 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР". Retrieved 2011-02-13.
  8. Демоскоп Weekly. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1979 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР". Retrieved 2011-02-13.
  9. Демоскоп Weekly. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года. Национальный состав населения по республикам СССР". Retrieved 2011-02-13.
  10. 1 2 Агентство РК по статистике. "ПЕРЕПИСЬ НАСЕЛЕНИЯ РЕСПУБЛИКИ КАЗАХСТАН 2009 ГОДА" (PDF). p. 10. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
  11. 1 2 Bennigsen & Broxup 1983, 30.
  12. Aydıngün 2002, 50.
  13. 1 2 Kurbanov & Kurbanov 1995, 237.
  14. Cornell 2001, 183.
  15. Tomlinson 2005, 107.
  16. Babak, Vaisman & Wasserman 2004, 252.
  17. Khazanov 1995, 202.
  18. Babak, Vaisman & Wasserman 2004, 253.
  19. Blacklock 2005, 7.


  • Akiner, Shirin (1983), Islamic Peoples of the Soviet Union, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-7103-0025-5 .
  • Atabaki, Touraj; Mehendale, Sanjyot (2005), Central Asia and the Caucasus: transnationalism and diaspora, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-33260-5 .
  • Aydıngün, Ayşegül (2002), "Ahiska (Meskhetian) Turks: Source of Conflict in the Caucasus?", The International Journal of Human Rights, 6 (2): 49–64 
  • Aydıngün, Ayşegül; Harding, Çigğdem Balım; Hoover, Matthew; Kuznetsov, Igor; Swerdlow, Steve (2006), Meskhetian Turks: An Introduction to their History, Culture, and Resettelment Experiences (PDF), Center for Applied Linguistics .
  • Babak, Vladimir; Vaisman, Demian; Wasserman, Aryeh (2004), Political Organization in Central Asia and Azerbaijan: Sources and Documents, Routledge, ISBN 0-7146-4838-8 .
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  • Blacklock, Denika (2005), Finding Durable Solutions for the Meskhetians (PDF), European Centre for Minority Issues .
  • Cornell, Svante E. (2001), Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, Routledge, ISBN 0-7007-1162-7 .
  • Council of Europe (2006), Documents: working papers, 2005 ordinary session (second part), 25–29 April 2005, Vol. 3: Documents 10407, 10449-10533, Council of Europe, ISBN 92-871-5754-5 .
  • Council of Europe (2007), Parliamentary Assembly: Working Papers 2007 Ordinary Session 22–26 January 2007, Council of Europe, ISBN 92-871-6191-7 .
  • Khazanov, Anatoly Michailovich (1995), After the USSR: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Politics in the Commonwealth of Independent States, University of Wisconsin Press, ISBN 0-299-14894-7 .
  • Kurbanov, Rafik Osman-Ogly; Kurbanov, Erjan Rafik-Ogly (1995), "Religion and Politics in the Caucasus", in Bourdeaux, Michael (ed), The Politics of Religion in Russia and the New States of Eurasia, M.E. Sharpe, ISBN 1-56324-357-1 .
  • Minahan, James (1998), Miniature Empires: A Historical Dictionary of the Newly Independent States, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-313-30610-9 .
  • Tomlinson, Kathryn (2005), "Living Yesterday in Today and Tomorrow: Meskhetian Turks in Southern Russia", in Crossley, James G.; Karner, Christian (eds.), Writing History, Constructing Religion, Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 0-7546-5183-5 .
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